Chapter 42 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 505

Yossarian

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Major Danby assures Yossarian that his deal with the colonels is still on, but Yossarian assures him that he is breaking his word because it is an “odious deal.” Yossarian wants to be sent home because he flew his required missions, not because he was stabbed by a crazy girl or because he is stubborn. He assures the nervous Danby that the colonels will not court-martial him because they filed an official report that made Yossarian a hero.

Danby assures Yossarian there are always multiple official reports, some of which make Yossarian a criminal; the colonels can create and choose any official report which suits their needs. If Yossarian is court-martialed, the colonels will accuse him of many crimes he did not commit and will produce false witnesses to testify. Danby is a university professor who encourages Yossarian to hold fast to his ideals and values, despite the fact that people are not always good. Yossarian must think only about what is best for “the welfare of [his] country and the dignity of man.” Being court-martialed will benefit neither and, in fact, damage both.

Yossarian fought to save his country, and now he intends to fight himself. He is confident the war will be over soon; his country is no longer in danger, but he is. When Yossarian asks Danby if he would take the deal, Danby eventually admits he would never let anyone send him home, but he would also never be court-martialed or fly more missions. All those who might have helped Yossarian are now in league with one another and will not help him.

The chaplain bursts into the room to announce that Orr was found washed ashore in Sweden after weeks at sea. Yossarian realizes Orr rowed to Sweden to escape the war. The chaplain is encouraged and resolves to persevere until the war ends. Yossarian hopes Clevinger might have done the same thing and is still hiding in the clouds somewhere.

Orr practiced for this grand escape by getting shot down on every mission. Yossarian is dismayed that he never suspected Clevinger’s cleverness. Yossarian tells Danby he is going to fly to Rome and then get to Sweden. He is not shirking his responsibilities; he is embracing his obligation to save his own life.

The chaplain brings Yossarian’s uniform and proudly announces he will now bother the commanders in Yossarian’s place. Danby fears both men have gone crazy, but the chaplain believes it is a miracle that he is now strong enough to triumph over his superiors. While in Rome, Yossarian will try to find Nately’s whore’s kid sister and take her with him to Sweden.

Danby gives Yossarian some money, and the chaplain says he will meet Yossarian again after the war. Yossarian insists he will be vigilant every moment so he will not get caught. As Yossarian leaves, Danby screams at him to jump. He does, just as Nately’s whore stabs at him, missing him by mere inches. Yossarian runs off. 

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Chapter 41 Summary