Chapter 41 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 508

Snowden

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Yossarian wakes in the hospital as people argue over whether he needs surgery. Nearly all of them are clearly inept, so Yossarian pretends to be unconscious so no one will take any action. Eventually he has to protest their outrageous suggestions; they finally anesthetize him so they can do what they want with him.

Yossarian wakes up in a private room with Colonel Korn assuring him that their deal is still in effect, assuming Yossarian lives. Yossarian promptly vomits and Korn rushes off in disgust. Later, he is roughly awakened by a “strange man with a mean face” who claims that he has Yossarian’s “pal.”

Yossarian wakes later and the chaplain says Yossarian’s wound is minor, so he will be able to leave the hospital in a few days. The chaplain has been spending most of his time hiding out and praying; he offers to get Yossarian whatever he needs. Everyone is proud of Yossarian for stopping the “Nazi assassin” who was hiding out, waiting to kill Korn and Colonel Cathcart.

Yossarian laughs and explains the “assassin” was just Nately’s girlfriend who has been trying to kill Yossarian ever since Nately died. Yossarian explains the deal the colonels offered him, and the chaplain is at first appalled. Yossarian assures the chaplain he does not intend to take the deal because he does not want to be credited with saving Cathcart’s life. Yossarian will either fly more missions or desert and let the authorities catch him.

Yossarian asks about the man who claimed to have his “pal,” but soon he realizes that all his friends have been killed, all but Hungry Joe. The chaplain has to tell Yossarian that Hungry Joe “died in his sleep while having a dream.” A cat was lying on his face.

In the middle of the night, another mean man dressed as a patient tells Yossarian that he has his pal. Yossarian lunges ineffectually at the man who slithers away with a “malicious laugh.” A troubled Yossarian cannot sleep, as he remembers helping Snowden, a man who was wounded in the rear section of the airplane they were flying.

The jagged, football-sized gash in Snowden’s thigh is gruesome, and Yossarian discovers the morphine in the first aid kit has been taken by Milo Minderbinder (in trade for something else, of course). Yossarian fashions a tourniquet and is quite composed as he does something he actually knows how to do. The leg is an appalling mess, but Yossarian is relieved to see the blood coagulating and believes Snowden is in no danger of dying. Snowden moans in pain, but all Yossarian can offer him is aspirin.

Snowden keeps moaning that he is cold and his lips are turning blue. Yossarian then discovers that Snowden has another wound. He unzips Snowden’s flak suit and screams as Snowden’s insides pour out into a “soggy pile.” He knows there is nothing he can do and covers Snowden with the white nylon of Snowden’s parachute, trying to keep him warm. 

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