Chapter 38 Summary

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Kid Sister

Yossarian has refused to fly any more missions and is marching backwards with a gun on his hip. Captains Wren and Piltchard take him off the list for the next mission but report his refusal to Group Headquarters. Colonel Cathcart is disturbed to hear Yossarian’s name again, but Colonel Korn just laughs and says Yossarian has no choice but to fly more missions. That does not matter to Yossarian, so they begin by sending him to Rome for a few days to recover from Nately’s death.

When Yossarian tells Nately’s whore that Nately has been killed, she stabs at him with a potato peeler.” She assumes Yossarian is the one who killed him, and she is so crazed that Yossarian is afraid he might not be able to defend himself against her prolonged attack with various items. Finally she collapses in her desolation and cries out her grief and anguish. Yossarian awkwardly consoles her and she is docile for a moment before she tries to kill him again.

The woman’s kid sister also attacks him, and Yossarian knows he must leave. He throws the younger sister at the older and narrowly escapes. He is covered with cuts and goes to wash the blood off; when he emerges from the bathroom, the woman is waiting to ambush him with a steak knife. He eludes her and makes Hungry Joe fly him back to Pianosa; he is astonished to discover Nately’s whore has stowed away, disguised as a mechanic. She tries to stab him again, so he holds her down as Hungry Joe flies them back to Rome. Yossarian dumps her on the runway before the plane, without stopping, continues back to Pianosa. Yossarian spends the evening in the officer’s lounge, warily watching for her to reappear. She does, disguised as a local farmer. Hungry Joe flies far behind enemy lines and Yossarian straps Nately’s whore to a parachute and “shoves her out the escape hatch.” He is confident she will not be bothering him again.

He nearly faints when he sees a figure crouching near his tent. It is a pilot; he encourages Yossarian to remain firm in his resolve not to fly any more missions. Next Appleby emerges from the shadows to tell him that the commanders are bluffing; they will not court martial him for his refusal because Yossarian is a hero for twice bombing the bridge at Ferrara. Havermeyer is the next person to come out of hiding to talk to him, and others do the same, worried about flying their own missions and encouraging Yossarian to remain strong in his resolve.

During the day, however, few will even acknowledge him. Captain Black tells Yossarian that he tried to find Nately’s whore when he was in Rome, but the authorities cleared all of the prostitutes out of the building where she lived. Yossarian is distraught that the woman’s kid sister is now living on the street and he leaves to go find her. 

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