Chapter 3 Summary
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 508
Only Orr and the dead man are there when Yossarian returns from the hospital. The dead man bothers him, but no one will admit the dead man ever existed—which of course he no longer does. Orr is trying to repair a gas leak in the stove and tells a frustratingly convoluted story about walking around with crab apples in his cheeks when he was a kid because he wanted round cheeks. Yossarian knows Orr will never tell him why he wanted round cheeks.
General P.P. Peckham is responsible for sending out the U.S.O. troops. He has moved his headquarters to Rome and spends his time scheming against General Dreedle. Dreedle refuses to obey Peckham’s ridiculous orders (such as requiring that all tents be pitched along parallel lines leading directly back to the Washington Monument.) It is a battle of wills until a mail-clerk begins throwing away all communications from Peckham, so Dreedle wins. To regain his status, Peckham sends out more U.S.O. troops than ever before and expects the troops receive them enthusiastically.
Yossarian’s group is not enthusiastic. Every day men ask Sergeant Towser if their orders to go home have arrived; some of these men have even flown fifty missions, but they are still waiting and worrying, for they know Colonel Cathcart might raise the required number of missions at any time.
Colonel Cargill, a former marketing executive, is in charge of improving morale; however, he is notorious for being an abject failure at his job. He is “a self-made man who owes his lack of success to nobody.” He commands the officers to attend the U.S.O. show and orders them to have a good time.
Yossarian almost feels sick enough to return to the hospital; he feels even sicker when he flies three more missions and Doc Daneeka still refuses to ground him. Daneeka is depressed himself at having to be here, but he is Yossarian’s friend and would help him if he could. Daneeka tells Yossarian all about the people, including Cathcart, who insist that forty missions should be enough to complete a tour of duty. He tells Yossarian to “smile and make the best of it,” like Havermeyer. It is a terrible thought. Havermeyer refuses to take evasive action on a mission; though he never misses, Havermeyer is a hazard to himself and others. Yossarian’s only goal each time he flies is to come back alive, but he used to be a lead bombardier and the men loved flying with him. Yossarian never cares whether he hits the target or not, as long as someone else does and the mission does not have to be re-flown.
Havermeyer shoots field mice in his tent at night with the gun he stole from the dead man in Yossarian’s tent. He sets the bait, waits until the creatures look directly at him and then smiles as he blows them to pieces. His tent mate, Hungry Joe, has been driven nearly crazy by Havermeyer.