Chapter 26 Summary
Everything is Yossarian’s fault. If he had not moved the bomb line during the siege of Bologna, Major de Coverly might still be here and would not have “stocked the enlisted men’s apartment with girls who had no place to live,” and Nately would not have fallen in love with his whore.
The girl Nately is in love with is tall, firm, and voluptuous, but none of the other men want her “at any price.” When she leaves, Nately follows her, and Yossarian and Aarfy find them two hours later. The girl is dressing to leave and Nately is distraught; he tells his friends that the girl is bored with him and wants to go. Aarfy is derisive and says she is just a whore. Yossarian is more comforting, reminding Nately that they know where all the whores gather and can find her again. Nately is distraught and claims to be in love with her.
Aarfy continues to berate her and warns Nately that he is going to tell Nately’s father about her. Nately declares that he will not tell his parents anything about the girl until after he marries her. This really amuses Aarfy, an expert on love because he loves Nately’s father. Aarfy hopes befriending Nately will be enough to buy him favor with Nately’s rich, influential father after the war.
Aarfy is a “lead navigator who [has] never been able to find himself since leaving college.” He constantly gets himself and his crew lost and then magnanimously forgives all the men who berate him for getting them lost or leading them directly into the line of fire. On one mission, Aarfy navigated them into heavy flak and Yossarian gets hit in the groin. He screams at Aarfy for help, but Aarfy just looks at him quizzically and says he cannot hear him.
Yossarian continues to holler at him, and Aarfy continues to shout back that he cannot hear him. After several of these infuriating exchanges, Yossarian faints. He wakes to find McWatt hovering over him. McWatt has stopped the bleeding from the artery in Yossarian’s thigh and Nately is flying them home.
Yossarian wakes in the hospital in the bed next to Dunbar, who has pulled rank and switched beds with another patient so he can be closer to Yossarian. When he is able to walk, Yossarian also pulls rank and takes the bed of a patient near Dunbar’s real bed. Nurse Cramer catches him and insists he return to his own bed but does not allow him to do so. Yossarian claims it is his leg and he can do with it what he will, but Cramer assures him that his leg belongs the United States government, “no different than a gear or a bedpan.”
Yossarian is incensed and an argument ensues. Cramer threatens to drag him back to his bed by the ear, and he lets her do it.