Chapter 32 Summary

Yo-Yo’s Roomies

The cold weather has come, but Yossarian is warm because of Orr’s stove. No one has retrieved Kid Sampson’s severed legs from the beach. The weather is miserable and every mission is difficult. The first thoughts Yossarian has every morning are about Kid Sampson’s “moldering stumps” and about Snowden freezing and wounded at the back of the airplane. Each night before he sleeps, Yossarian tries to remember everyone he has ever known who is now dead; the numbers keep increasing. The Germans are still fighting, and he suspects he is going to lose.

Yossarian would stay comfortably alone if his tent were not invaded by members of the “two full combat crews” Colonel Cathcart requisitioned to replace McWatt and Kid Sampson. His four new roommates are “noisy, overconfident, emptyheaded kids of twenty-one” who all know one another and lived normal, upper-class lives before coming here; they are thrilled that the war has “lasted long enough for them to find out what combat [is] really like.”

Sergeant Towser begs Yossarian to accept his roommates or move in with Lieutenant Nately; however, Yossarian refuses to abandon Orr’s tent, as it would be the same as abandoning Orr. So, Yossarian is stuck with the “boisterous, immature young men.” They depress him because they are always in “high spirits.” The newcomers call him Yo-Yo and admire all authority. They have a good time and are never silent; they do not have “brains enough to be introverted and repressed.”

Soon their buddies regularly invade the tent and Yossarian no longer has a place to be alone with Nurse Duckett. Yossarian invites Chief White Halfoat to his tent, hoping Halfoat’s “threats and swinish habits” will drive the boys away, but Halfoat is making plans to go to the hospital and die of pneumonia. Doctor Daneeka is living in Halfoat’s tent, but he is not allowed to practice medicine and does not collect a paycheck, which amuses Halfoat. When Halfoat suggests that perhaps Yossarian should get Captain Black to “kick those kids out,” Yossarian’s attitude toward his four rambunctious roommates becomes protective, and he resolves to be more “tolerant and benevolent” toward them.

That feeling lasts until he returns to his tent and is horrified to discover that his roommates are burning Orr’s birch logs in the stove. The next day they get rid of the dead man in Yossarian’s tent by throwing the dead man’s cot and belongings outside into the bushes. They are so efficient that Yossarian is afraid they will dispose of him too, so he goes to Rome with Hungry Joe. They arrive the day before Nately’s whore wakes up in love after finally getting a good night’s sleep.