Chapter 7 Summary

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McWatt is Yossarian’s usual pilot and is probably the craziest combat soldier of all because he is “perfectly sane and still does not mind the war.” He wears red pajamas and “fleecy bedroom slippers,” whistles show tunes, sleeps on colored bedsheets, and is in a constant state of happiness.

McWatt is impressed with Milo Minderbinder, the mess cook who buys eggs for seven cents each and sells them for five cents. Minderbinder, however, is impressed with the letter Yossarian obtained from Doc Daneeka entitling him to take all the fruit and fruit juices he wants.

Yossarian’s admittedly imaginary liver condition is perplexing to the cook, but Yossarian explains that since fruit is good for his liver, he never eats it and gives it away to anyone who wants it. Aarfy takes the prunes because he never gets enough in the mess hall, and Nately takes boxes of fruit to his prostitute in Rome. She and her family sell it on the black market to buy gaudy costume jewelry, cheap perfume, dirty pictures, and raw whiskey.

Minderbinder wants to be Yossarian’s partner but is denied. He will talk to his cook, Corporal Snark, about serving more prunes. Snark is always complaining that his talents are being wasted here, and Minderbinder wonders why Snark was demoted. Yossarian says Snark once mashed hundreds of cakes of soap into the sweet potatoes to prove that the men did not know good food from bad. Because they ate the potatoes so eagerly, everyone got sick and missions even had to be canceled.

Minderbinder is appalled and wants to move Stark “to the administrative side” because he wants to serve “the best meals in the whole world.” It is a lofty goal, but Yossarian sees that the young man is absolutely sincere. In his moral code, it is a sin to sell things for as much as the market will bear.

Minderbinder is upset that a C.I.D. man is snooping around, but Yossarian assures him the man is looking for someone who is signing Washington Irving’s name when censoring letters (Yossarian).

Unlike Yossarian, the cook is more outraged about the possibility that the C.I.D. man might discover his black market activity than he is about the fact that Colonel Cathcart has raised the number of missions to fifty-five. Yossarian says that is because he does not have to fly missions. Yossarian plans either to see Major Major (who refuses to see anyone) or go back in the hospital.

One day Minderbinder hopes to create a mart, a place where people can buy and sell their goods, and each soldier will have a share in the venture. In the meantime, he is gathering bits of things, including a quarter of McWatt’s colored bedsheet, which he keeps as his profit for getting back half of it from the thief (who does not understand English) who stole the bedsheet that morning but traded it for some pitted dates that Minderbinder borrowed and returned to Yossarian—with interest.

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