Chapter 30 Summary

Dunbar

Yossarian no longer cares where his bombs fall. Dunbar drops his hundreds of yards away from the village, an offense punishable by court martial if anyone can prove it. Dunbar never laughs anymore and is always “crude and surly and profane,” even in front of the chaplain. The chaplain tries to talk to Wintergreen about lowering the required number of missions, but Wintergreen refuses to see him, “too deeply involved with wartime activities to concern himself with matters so trivial.”

Yossarian is again the lead bombardier; he is paired with McWatt, whom he likes, and Aarfy, whom he does not. McWatt is generally unafraid and loves performing low-flying, outrageously risky maneuvers just for fun; he assumes Yossarian also enjoys this kind of flying. He does not. Soon Yossarian has his hands around McWatt’s neck, threatening to kill him; McWatt relents and says Yossarian is too tense and should go home, but of course no one will let him. Yossarian is ashamed of his behavior, but McWatt readily forgives him. He still plans to make his low-flying passes over the beach.

Yossarian often takes Nurse Duckett to the beach when he feels the need to touch her, and she is happy to oblige. She is always accompanied by her best friend, Nurse Cramer, who sits ten yards away from them, in a huff because she does not approve of Yossarian. When the couple swims, she swims, too, always maintaining her ten-yard distance. Duckett enjoys Cramer more now that Cramer refuses to speak to her. Duckett thinks Yossarian is wonderful and is “already trying to change him.” Yossarian is never lonely when he is with her.

Yossarian is not prepared for what happens one day when McWatt makes one of his usual low-flying passes over the beach. Kid Sampson is in the water and leaps “clownishly” up to touch the airplane. Something happens, perhaps the wind, and one of the airplane propellers cuts Kid Sampson absolutely in half. The scene is horrifying and grizzly; nearly everyone on the beach is sprayed by blood or worse as they panic to get out of the water and off the beach.

Doctor Daneeka was supposed to be in the airplane with McWatt, but Yossarian always ensures that Daneeka never has to actually fly, as required, and Daneeka is on the ground, stunned. McWatt and two other pilots had been on a training flight, but now McWatt takes the airplane to five thousand feet and slowly circles the landing field. Everyone on the ground stands in silence as they watch first one parachute and then another drop from the airplane. They wait for a third parachute, but it does not come.

Yossarian finally realizes what McWatt intends to do and runs along the beach, shouting futilely at him. McWatt slowly pilots his airplane into the side of a mountain. Colonel Cathcart is so distraught by the deaths of Kid Sampson and McWatt that he raises the number of required missions to sixty-five.