Chapter 27 Summary

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Nurse Duckett

Nurse Duckett is a “tall, spare, mature, straight-backed woman,… very lovely and very plain.” She is an intelligent, responsible, and capable woman. Yossarian pities her and decides to help by making sexual advances to her. Dunbar joins in the game until he knocks himself out in an attempt to grope her; now he actually suffers from the condition which he has been faking in order to avoid flying missions.

The doctor in charge scolds both men for their behavior, but of course Yossarian and Dunbar soon get him quite confused and he sends Yossarian to the psychiatrist, Major Sanderson. Sanderson encourages Yossarian to describe the recurring dreams he claims to have (which are actually Dunbar’s); however, Yossarian deftly turns Sanderson into the patient and Sanderson reveals his own violent sex dreams.

Yossarian tries to discover other people’s dreams which he can claim as his own with Sanderson. When Yossarian shares the chaplain’s rather normal, fearful dreams about his wife and children, Sanderson is appalled and believes anyone who dreams such things should not be allowed in the military. Yossarian slyly suggests that perhaps Sanderson should ground him and send him home. Yossarian also learns that Sanderson thinks Yossarian is actually Fortiori, the man whom Yossarian regularly kicks out of his bed just because he can.

Yossarian continues his strategy to earn a discharge and soon gets Sanderson so confused and upset that Sanderson shouts that Yossarian “ought to be taken outside and shot.” Back in the ward, Dobbs tells Yossarian that new soldiers are “pouring in” and hundreds of pilots, gunners, and bombardiers are waiting to leave in a “replacement center” in Naples, ready to go home after flying just forty-five missions. Though Dobbs has only two more missions to fly, he begs Yossarian to help him kill Colonel Cathcart. Dobbs shouts as he waves a gun and tears run down his face; he is desperate to act but is too afraid to act alone.

The chaplain comes to visit Yossarian; he has asked Doctor Daneeka for help, but Daneeka is too worried about his own fears to offer any help to others. Instead Daneeka suggests that the chaplain go to the mainland to see Wintergreen, a mail clerk who is successful in the military because he refuses to help anyone.

When Yossarian sees Sanderson again, the angry psychiatrist tells him he is a “frustrated, unhappy, disillusioned, undisciplined, maladjusted young man” who “thinks he is too good for all the conventions of society.” Yossarian agrees that he is immature and has a “morbid aversion to dying.” In a grand irony, Sanderson discharges Fortiori for being crazy while Yossarian and Dunbar must return to combat.

Daneeka is distraught because the Germans are close to surrendering and he will be sent to the Pacific—his worst fear. Yossarian tells Daneeka that the hospital psychiatrist certified that he is crazy; he believes Daneeka will not let a “crazy man out to be killed.” Daneeka wonders who would go except for a crazy man. 

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Chapter 26 Summary


Chapter 28 Summary