Chapter 24 Summary
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 503
April is the best month for Milo Minderbinder because the produce is fresh and he is able to buy and sell many things officers want. Everyone is a shareholder in the syndicate, and all he asks from any of the commanders is the use of one plane and a pilot. When one of them refuses, Minderbinder tells General Dreedle and Dreedle immediately replaces the uncooperative leader with a decrepit officer who particularly likes litchi nuts.
No one understands how Minderbinder will get the items he promises them, as many of them are found only behind enemy lines; however, he knows where items are traded and is able to get them through a maze of cross-trading and traitorous dealing.
The twenty-seven-year-old genius has his own fleet of planes circuiting through Colonel Cathcart’s field, all bearing colorful banners on which words like Truth, Liberty, and Honor are painted next to M & M (for Milo and Minderbinder) Enterprises. Everyone thinks Minderbinder is “a jerk” because he volunteered for the mess hall job and now takes it so seriously; however, Yossarian thinks Minderbinder is a genius.
Minderbinder is able to travel freely and is a kind of double agent, profiting from information sharing. Yossarian accuses Minderbinder of killing the dead man in Yossarian’s tent before the man even unpacked his bags—and making a profit on it—but Minderbinder denies everything except the profit. Yossarian is outraged, but Minderbinder assures Yossarian that the Germans are not their enemies; they are also part of the syndicate and he must protect their shares as well as the Americans’.
Minderbinder buys too much Egyptian cotton and soon M & M Enterprises is on the verge of collapse; he makes a deal with the Germans and commands his pilots to bomb his own camp. He has gone too far and investigations ensue; he is in serious trouble until he pays the government for the damages. Doctor Daneeka morosely tends each patient, as he did the day of the Avignon mission, when Yossarian was covered with Snowden’s blood and body and refused to wear his uniform anymore.
Minderbinder tries to talk reasonably with the naked Yossarian, asking him to try his latest concoction: chocolate-covered cotton, Minderbinder’s last, desperate attempt to get rid of the cotton he overbought.
Yossarian convinces Minderbinder that the men cannot eat raw cotton and suggests he sell it to the government. After a moment of protest and internal deliberation, he agrees that the government can do business but wonders how to make the transaction happen. Yossarian suggests that he openly bribe the government and let the appropriate officials come to him to make a deal. Yossarian gives him several arguments to make to convince the government to buy the cotton. Minderbinder is energized at the prospect and leaves to begin. As he leaves, he quietly tells Yossarian that he wishes Yossarian would put some clothes on or he might start a trend—and then Minderbinder will never get rid of his cotton.