Chapter 22 Summary

Milo the Mayor

Yossarian loses his nerve on the mission to Avignon which he flies with Snowden, Huple, and Dobbs. Huple, the pilot, is only fifteen years old, and Dobbs, the co-pilot, has no faith in him. As soon as they dropped their bombs, Dobbs goes berserk and wrests the controls from Huple. The plane dives and nearly crashes until Huple regains the controls and tries to guide them to safety. “Dobbs [is] the worst pilot in the world and [knows] it.” Suddenly there is a hole in the windshield of the plane and the radio-gunner, Snowden, is on the ground after he faints.

Dobbs is the one who instigates a plot to kill Colonel Cathcart because he had just raised the required number of missions to sixty. Although Dobbs has a complete plan to kill Cathcart, Yossarian is not interested. The only thing Dobbs needs from Yossarian is his approval. Dobbs can carry out the entire plan by himself. Dobbs is completely out of control and adds that he would also like to kill several others as long as he was killing Cathcart.

Yossarian tells Dobbs he might be willing to participate if he stops shouting and limits the bloodshed to Cathcart. A frantic and frustrated Dobbs leaves when Yossarian refuses to give his consent to the plan. Dobbs is almost as crazy as Orr.

Milo regularly takes Orr and Yossarian with him on his buying trips for supplies for his mess halls. All of his complicated, confusing chicanery results in a profit for his syndicate. Yossarian is surprised to learn that everyone is part of this syndicate. Milo needs Yossarian to get Orr away from town, so he arranges for both men to spend time with older, jaded women who advertise themselves as pre-teen virgins. Yossarian is not thrilled with the plan.

When they arrive in Palermo, Milo is received like a hero and endures the “tumultuous celebration with benevolent grace.” His secret is now out: Milo has been elected mayor of Palermo, and many other cities, for bringing Scotch to Sicily. The people do not drink the Scotch; they sell it. Because of Milo, Sicily is the third-largest exporter of Scotch in the world. That is why he was elected mayor. His office is in a barber shop and he has a deputy mayor.

Orr and Yossarian are left to fend for themselves and spend the night cramped in their airplane just to avoid the rain. This kind of thing happens in every city to which they fly, as Mayor Milo Minderbinder traffics and trades items from one city for other items in other cities in an endless string of stops, sales, trades, and purchases.