Catch 22

Joseph Heller

BACKGROUND

Had you gone to any anti-Vietnam War/anti-military protest during the 60’s, you would have found tie-dyed clothes, love beads, joints, and copies of Catch-22. Pacifists (peace-loving people) then and now consider this book one of the Bibles for their movement, because the story presents draft-dodging as righteous and the military as lame. Like the people who reviewed this book when it first came out in 1961, you’re gonna either love or hate this book. Both the story and the writing style are absurd. With this book, the expression "Catch-22" was introduced to the English language; it describes "a situation for which the only solution is impossible due to a circumstance which is part of the original situation." Like, you can’t go out until you finish your homework, but you can’t finish your homework until you go out and get it. The sequel to this novel is Closing Time.

 

MAIN CHARACTERS


Captain Yossarian: The main character. Nickname: yo-yo. A 28 year-old bombardier who is trying to get sent home so all the strangers who are trying to kill him won’t be able to kill him any more. The only sane one. Falls in love with every girl he meets. He’s always running to the hospital, pretending he’s sick, just so he won’t have to fight and risk being killed.

Chaplain Albert Taylor Tappmann: An Anabaptist who is the chaplain for Yossarian’s squadron. He thinks too much, to the point of freaking himself out. He feels that he will never be successful at anything; gets more confident at the end of the book. He just wants to go home to his wife and three kids. Tries to help Yossarian in his mission to go home. Accused of being Washington Irving and of stealing tomatoes from Cathcart.

Orr: Yossarian’s roommate who repeatedly takes apart and puts back together the stove in their tent. Believes there are flies in Appleby’s eyes. Simple guy.

Doc Daneeka: Doctor for Yossarian’s squadron. Bitches and moans about having to be in the military; he would rather be making big bucks as a doctor in the US instead of working for peanuts in the military. Hypochondriac. He is afraid that he will be sent to the Pacific Ocean. Everyone believes he died in a plane crash, despite the fact that he tells them he’s still alive.

Milo Minderbinder: He is 27 years old. He runs the mess hall. He also starts an international food import-export business called "M&M Enterprises, Fine Fruits & Produce" and its subsidiary "M&M Enterprises, Fine Pastry"; wherever he goes on business, he is elected to office (i.e. Mayor of Palermo; Vice-Shah of Oran). Only one who has the balls to talk to Major __ de Coverley.

Nurse Sue Ann Duckett: She works at the Base’s hospital. Hates Yossarian at first, but ends up going out with him later. Best friends with Nurse Cramer. Ends up getting engaged to a doctor.

Nurse Cramer: Yossarian claims she killed the soldier in white because she checked his temperature and found that he was dead. Best friends with Nurse Duckett. She keeps to herself when not on duty.

Lieutenant Dunbar: Accepts death as a fact of life. He gets disappeared.

The Texan: A really annoying patient in the hospital. He is the only one who talks to the Soldier in White.

The Soldier in White: Completely wrapped in gauze and plaster. No one is sure that there is even a body inside.

Havermeyer: Lives in the tent next-door to Yossarian and Orr. The best bombardier. His idea of fun is to shoot field mice. Always eating peanut brittle.

Clevinger: Book smart but not street smart.

Gus & Wes: Doc Daneeka’s assistants.

General P.P. Peckem: Tries to outbest General Dreedle. Likes listening to himself talk. Wants to be well known.

General Dreedle: He tries to outbest General Peckem. He bitches about his son-in-law, Colonel Moodus; he can’t stand him. He doesn’t go anywhere without his nurse or his son-in-law.

Colonel Moodus: General Dreedle’s son-in-law. He bitches about his father-in-law; he can’t stand him. Totally turned on by Dreedle’s nurse.

General Dreedle’s Nurse: A babe. General Dreedle uses her to tease Moodus into horniness.

Hungry Joe: Easily irritated. Always trying to take nudie pictures. Huple’s roommate. He has nightmares that Huple’s cat will suffocate him to death by lying on his face while he sleeps…. Probably because Huple’s cat is lying on his face while he sleeps. He wants to kill Huple’s cat.

Huple: 15 year-old pilot who lied about his age just so that he could fight in the war (like George Bush did).

Colonel Cargill: Orders his men to voluntarily go to the USO show so that the performers won’t feel unwanted.

Chief White Halfoat: Doc Daneeka and Flume’s roommate. Makes up his mind to die of pneumonia; he does. Threatens to slit Flume’s throat while he’s sleeping…. But he’s just kidding.

Appleby: Pilot and champion ping-pong player.

Aarfy: Lead navigator. Wants to work for Nately’s father after the war. He doesn’t sleep with nice girls.

Kraft: He’s dead.

Captain Flume: Chief White Halfoat’s roommate. Goes to live in the woods because he believes the Chief will carry out his threat to slit his throat while asleep.

Major Major Major Major: The squadron’s commander who doesn’t know what he is supposed to do in that role. He looks like old-time actor, Henry Fonda. He is strikingly unimpressive. Makes himself a recluse.

McWatt: He doesn’t mind being in the war.

Lieutenant Scheisskopf: All he cares about is his squadron winning military parades. Promoted to Lieutenant General.

Lt. Scheisskopf’s Wife: She is a sexpot who screws her husband’s men. She doesn’t believe in God.

Dori Duz: She does.

Ex-PFC Wintergreen: A mail clerk who has access to a mimeograph machine; this makes him the most powerful man in the European division of the US military because he can forge official letters. Later becomes an Ex-Sergeant.

Sergeant Towser: Major Major Major Major’s secretary. He runs the squadron because MMMM doesn’t.

Mudd: a.k.a. the dead man in Yossarian’s tent. He is caught in bureaucratic limbo because he was sent out on a mission and died before he was officially admitted into the squadron; thus, he can not officially get out.

Dr. Stubbs: Doctor for a different squadron on the Base. He feels that his job of saving people in war is a waste of time because we’re all going to die sometime anyway. (I know – total downer.)

Captain Black: takes pleasure in others’ misfortunes and in bursting other people’s bubbles. Organizer of the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade. Ultra-competitive with others; talks crap about his competitors so he will get ahead.

Major ____ de Coverley: He wears a patch over his eye. People are intimidated just by looking at him. That’s why no one knows his first name; everyone is afraid to ask him what it is. Everyone is just plain afraid of him, but no one knows why.

Kid Sampson: A pilot.

Piltchard & Wren: Joint squadron operations officers. They love being in the war; it’s just so exciting! They only get along with themselves.

Luciana: A whore in Rome that Yossarian falls in love with and bones. She has an invisible scar on her back.

Colonel Cathcart: He feels like everyone hates him. One second he’s happy, the next, he’s sad. He’ll do anything to become a general. His dream is to be featured in the Saturday Evening Post. Analyzes himself according to his accomplishments ("Feathers in my cap!!!!!") and his failures ("Black Eyes!!!"). Constantly raising the required number of combat missions his men are to fly. Owns a farmhouse in the hills with Colonel Korn.

Colonel Korn: Owns a farmhouse in the hills with Colonel Cathcart.

Corporal Whitcomb: Chaplain’s assistant. He doesn’t believe in God. He believes he can do Chaplain’s job better than Chaplain. He mistakenly believes that the Chaplain is being mean to him. Comes up with the idea of sending insincere form letters of condolence to families of dead soldiers.

Dobbs: the worst pilot in the squadron. He asks Yossarian to help him murder Cathcart, Korn, Appleby, Havermeyer, and McWatt. Dies in a mid-air collision with Nately.

Nately: One of the men in the squadron. He comes from a wealthy family. Very patriotic. He dies when Dobbs crashes into his plane in midair.

Nately’s Whore: A hooker in Rome whom Nately wants to marry. She tries to kill Yossarian.

Major Danby: Mellow guy. An idealist. Offers Yossarian "The Deal."

Michaela: A maid at the officers’ apartment in Rome. Aarfy rapes her and then throws her out the window.

 

PLOT

By the time you finish reading, you will be screaming "Stop the insanity!!" Catch-22 is a jumbled collection of the absurd things that happen to a group of American soldiers while they are stationed on the fake island of Pianosa (near Italy) during the Second World War. The main story is about this guy, Yossarian, and his desperate attempt to get sent home -- he is sick and tired of people he doesn’t know constantly trying to kill him. However, there is this wacky military regulation called Catch-22: if you didn’t mind flying in combat, you were considered crazy and could be grounded; if you were afraid of getting killed in combat, you were considered sane and had to fly. (The really wacky thing, though, is that Catch-22 doesn’t really exist, but everyone thinks it does.) Yossarian finally escapes by taking off for Sweden.

 

CHAPTER BY CHAPTER

CHAPTER 1

  • Yossarian is in the hospital, pretending he is sick. He decides to spend the rest of the war in the hospital.
  • The Texan is this guy who annoys everyone in the hospital to the point that everyone "gets better" to go back on active duty far, far away from him.
  • Yossarian censors letters written by enlisted men. To make it more exciting, he signs them off using the name Washington Irving.
  • Chaplain comes to ask Yossarian if he needs anything; Yossarian digs the Chaplain.
  • Yossarian and Dunbar watch a colonel and his female visitor.

CHAPTER 2

  • We are introduced to the men in Yossarian’s squadron.
  • The war gets Yossarian down. He seems to be the only one who realizes that there is a war going on.
  • Yossarian believes complete strangers are trying to kill him.
  • Yossarian feels like he is surrounded by lunatics.
  • Yossarian goes to Doc Daneeka to ask him to send him home. But Doc tells him to complete the required number of missions; then, he can send Yossarian home.

CHAPTER 3

  • Yossarian insists that there is a dead man in his and Orr’s tent.
  • Yossarian wants to kill Orr because he repeatedly takes apart and puts together a stove in their tent.
  • When he was growing up, Orr walked around with crabapples in his cheeks in order to make them bigger; no one knows why he would want big cheeks.
  • The incident at a brothel in Rome when a whore violently hit Orr over the head with a high-heal shoe for 15 minutes. The harder she hit him, the harder he laughed. No one could figure out what was up with that whole scene.
  • Layout of the squadron’s camp.
  • General Peckem brings USO troop to the base. No one wants to go.
  • Numerous times a day, the men ask if their orders to be sent home have arrived.
  • Colonel Cargill orders his men to voluntarily go to the USO show so that the performers won’t feel unwanted.
  • Doc Daneeka advises Yossarian to just deal with the situation; he is not going to help him get home.
  • Yossarian doesn’t care about carrying out his missions; he just wants to get back on the ground in one piece.
  • Hungry Joe loses it.

CHAPTER 4

  • Doc Daneeka wants to go back to the US and earn a whole lotta money; he hates being in the military.
  • The military bureaucracy is totally wacky.
  • Yossarian tries to figure out why people are trying to kill him all the time.
  • Dunbar likes shooting skeet because time passes slowly while he’s doing it because he hates shooting skeet (the opposite of "Time flies while you’re having fun").

CHAPTER 5

  • Doc Daneeka tells the story about the virgin and her husband who came to his office in the US because she couldn’t get pregnant. The reason was…. Well, let’s just say: whoever told them about "the birds and the bees" wasn’t detailed enough.
  • Chief White Halfoat hates whitey. When he was little, everywhere his family settled ended up having oil reserves underneath. Oil companies chased them around the country to make money off drilling oil.
  • Yossarian decides to go crazy. But in this loopy military world, crazy=sane, and sane=crazy, and crazy=sane again.
  • Catch-22: You are sane and rational if you are hip to the fact that you really could die during one of the missions. But since you’re sane, you can’t be grounded and have to fly.
  • Orr believes that Appleby has flies in his eyes. Appleby is relieved to find out that he doesn’t.
  • Yossarian believes the crawlway between his bombardier station in the airplane and the escape hatch is a part of the scheme to kill him. He wants to just sit on the escape hatch so he can escape immediately if he needs to.
  • The mission to Avignon. Sacre bleu! What a mess!

CHAPTER 6

  • Hungry Joe is always trying to take pictures of naked girls. They never come out because he forgets to put film in the camera, forgets to take the lens off, etc.
  • He used to be a photographer for Life magazine.
  • Kraft is dead.
  • Appleby and Orr have a brawl over a ping-pong game. Everyone starts to rumble.
  • Captain Flume is afraid his roommate, the Chief, is going to carry out the threat to slit his throat while he is asleep. Chief is just joking. Flume goes to live in the woods until winter (when it gets cold out, he’ll have to return to his tent).
  • Chief punches Moodus to get Dreedle off.
  • Catch-22 of having to obey orders, even if those orders contradict other orders.

CHAPTER 7

  • McWatt likes the war.
  • He annoys Hungry Joe by snapping cards while dealing. Hungry Joe thinks McWatt is doing it on purpose.
  • Yossarian is hooked up with dried fruit and fruit juices, due to the liver condition he claims to have. He ends up giving it away because he doesn’t want to get better.
  • Corporal Snark, a chef, is poisoning the squadron.
  • Milo wants to sell the fruit and juices that Yossarian is getting and share the profits with him.
  • The incident with half of McWatt’s bedsheet.

CHAPTER 8

  • Scheisskopf loves a parade.
  • His wife does the nasty with her husband’s squadron and keeps getting pregnant.
  • What the parade competitions were like at the cadet school in Santa Ana, where Yossarian trained before coming to Pianosa.
  • Yossarian hates parades.
  • Scheisskopf comes up with an innovation to marching: don’t let the arms swing.
  • Clevinger is brought in front of the Action Board on trumped up charges. The trial is like the "Who’s on First?" routine. Clevinger is found guilty.

CHAPTER 9

  • We learn about Major Major Major Major's life, from birth to the present time.
  • He became a Major in 4 days because the computer thought it would be funny to have a Major named Major Major Major Major.
  • There is a CID man working undercover to figure out who is signing "Washington Irving" on letters.
  • Major Major stops using Washington Irving and starts using John Milton.
  • Clevinger’s plane and crew are lost in battle.
  • No one likes Major Major. They don’t let him play in their reindeer games (i.e. basketball). Major Major wears a disguise, but he gets busted.
  • Major Major becomes a recluse, both in his work and his private life. He doesn’t want to deal with anyone.
  • Yossarian tries to get help from Major Major in getting the dead soldier’s things out of his and Orr’s tent. He also tries to get Major Major to help him get sent home. Major Major can’t help him at all.

CHAPTER 10

  • Clevinger bit it.
  • Appleby tattles on Yossarian for not taking some pill on the way to Pianosa.
  • The military is wacky bureaucracy (redundant).
  • Mudd is the dead man whose stuff is in Yossarian’s tent.
  • The Big Siege of Bologna (a city in Italy, not the food) happens.
  • Dr. Stubbs feels useless; what’s the point of saving wounded soldiers when they are going to die anyway?
  • Yossarian is positively certain that he is going to get killed.
  • Yossarian is seen as "a crazy bastard" who may be "the only sane one left."

CHAPTER 11

  • Captain Black takes pleasure in telling his squadron that they could die in their mission to Bologna. The squadron is really scared of going into combat without this prick chiming in.
  • He spreads rumors that Major Major is the Henry Fonda as well as a Communist.
  • He starts the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade. Everyone has to take an oath to do anything. Major __ de Coverley nixes the Crusade by saying, "Give everybody eat!"

CHAPTER 12

  • It keeps raining, so the mission to Bologna keeps getting delayed. The soldiers are on edge: they don’t want to prolong the inevitable.
  • The mission is cancelled after Yossarian goes into the planning room and moves the bomb line on the map up past Bologna. No one has a clue that it didn’t actually happen. What a bunch of morons.
  • Because he thought of asking for it, General Peckem is awarded a medal for capturing Bologna. The city wasn’t captured; Yossarian just moved the bomb line on the map.
  • Milo bought all the cotton in Egypt and now, he’s stuck with it. No buyers.
  • Yossarian tries to get Ex-PFC Wintergreen to forge a letter so the squadron doesn’t have to fly to Bologna. But no dice.
  • Yossarian confesses to moving the bomb line on the map.
  • Clevinger and Yossarian have an argument about war: Clevinger believes it’s about winning; Yossarian believes it’s about winning and staying alive. (I know: Clevinger died two chapters ago; Welcome to Catch-22.)
  • To Yossarian, the enemy is anyone who wants to kill you – whether he’s on your team or not.
  • The Germans newest weapon: a Lepage glue gun.
  • Chief steals Black’s car and they all go on a joy ride. They get into an accident because Chief wouldn’t turn the headlights on.
  • Yossarian sets up a fight between Hungry Joe and Huple’s cat. The cat runs off. Hungry Joe has a dream that the cat is suffocating him.

CHAPTER 13

  • No one gets Major ___ de Coverley. His very presence intimidates people.
  • He goes and rents apartments in Rome for the men to go to for some R&R and booty.
  • Yossarian falls in love with the maid in the lime-colored panties because he can have sex with her without falling in love with her. (Welcome again to Catch-22.)
  • Milo is the only one who has the balls to talk to Major __ de Coverley.
  • Milo has a fresh-egg festival.
  • Colonel Cathcart asks that Major Major be promoted, but he is denied. The military doesn’t want to lose their one Major Major Major Major.
  • The story of how Yossarian killed Kraft and his crew during the mission to Ferrara. He is promoted to Captain and given a medal so that Colonel Cathcart doesn’t have to deal with the problem that Yossarian had to try two times to bomb the city.

CHAPTER 14

  • The mission to Bologna finally happens.
  • After taking off, Yossarian breaks his intercom on purpose so they have to turn back to Pianosa.
  • Chief is stealing whiskey.
  • While the rest of the squadron is off bombing Bologna, Yossarian goes to the beach.
  • The mission to Bologna ends up being a piece of cake.

CHAPTER 15

  • Piltchard & Wren like being in the war. They hang out together.
  • The squadron has to do another mission to Bologna. Yossarian has to go this time.
  • Aarfy frustrates the crap out of Yossarian the whole mission.
  • Yossarian freaks out because he thinks Orr got shot down. After he spots Orr’s plane, he curses him out.
  • Yossarian is about to lose it. He goes to Rome to get laid by Luciana.

CHAPTER 16

  • Yossarian and his buddies are in Rome, partying with the local whores.
  • Luciana won’t put out for Yossarian until the morning. He doesn’t believe her.
  • Hungry Joe is gaga over Aarfy’s girl’s ring. When he finds out that Aarfy got her to throw the ring out, Hungry Joe almost kills him.
  • The next morning, Luciana shows up at Yossarian’s room. They get it on. He wants to marry her.
  • Yossarian and Luciana have a weird-ass conversation.
  • Hungry Joe walks in on Yossarian and Luciana and tries to take pictures. They manage to get away from him.
  • Luciana gives Yossarian her address. After she leaves, he rips it up. Then he regrets it because he wants to be with her. He can’t find her anywhere, so he goes back and boinks the maid in the lime-colored panties.
  • Yossarian goes back to Pianosa and apologizes to Hungry Joe for the incident in the bedroom.
  • Hungry Joe takes pleasure in telling him that Cathcart has raised the required missions from 35 to 40; Yossarian pissed, because he has 32 and thought he was almost done.

CHAPTER 17

  • To avoid flying the additional missions, Yossarian checks into the hospital. That is the only place he can relax, since no one makes him do anything while he’s there.
  • Yossarian believes Nurse Cramer killed the Soldier in White because she checked his temperature and found that he was dead.
  • Everyone trying to figure out who the Soldier in White is. Yossarian thinks it’s the dead man in his tent, Mudd. They are afraid he will start moaning.
  • Yossarian gives Nurse Cramer a hard time: how does she know there is anyone inside all the plaster and gauze?
  • Yossarian freaks out about all the different things that could kill him. He decides to stay in the hospital so that he can nip any illness in the bud.
  • Doc Daneeka refuses to help Yossarian get out of military, but he will think about it.
  • Doc Daneeka doesn’t know what his purpose is.
  • Yossarian can’t believe he’s lived so long, what with all the possible ways he could be killed. To him, Life is all about avoiding death.

CHAPTER 18

  • Yossarian is told he is healthy and has to go back on duty. He is saved by The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice who causes the joint to be quarantined.
  • Yossarian spends his best Thanksgiving ever in the hospital.
  • Yossarian goes off on God for including things that can kill you in His creation.
  • After the quarantine is over, Yossarian is told to leave. He claims he sees everything twice, so he gets to stay.
  • The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice dies.
  • A doctor asks Yossarian to act like the real Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice because that guy’s family came all the way from the U.S. to say goodbye to the dying man. In exchange, the doctor won’t tell everyone that Yossarian really is healthy.

CHAPTER 19

  • Colonel Cathcart wants the Chaplain to hold prayer sessions before missions; he wants them to pray for a tighter bomb pattern. Cathcart thinks that this will help him get featured in the Saturday Evening Post.
  • Cathcart decides not to do the prayer session thing. He doesn’t want to include enlisted men in them.
  • Chaplain discusses Yossarian’s situation with Cathcart. Cathcart advises Chaplain to tell Yossarian to deal with it and to have faith in God.
  • Cathcart and Yossarian don’t believe in God.

CHAPTER 20

  • Chaplain feels bad for not putting his foot down with Cathcart about the missions being increased all the time.
  • Chaplain and his assistant, Whitcomb, live in the woods.
  • Whitcomb thinks he can do the Chaplain’s job better than the Chaplain.
  • Whitcomb doesn’t believe in God.
  • Chaplain explores his feelings of "déjà vu" (already seen), "jamais vu" (never seen), and "presque vu" (almost seen).
  • Chaplain is under investigation for being Washington Irving.
  • Chaplain is unhappy about all the unhappiness in the world and how he can’t do anything about it.

CHAPTER 21

  • Cathcart has to figure out a way to deal with the troublemaker, Yossarian. The fact that Yossarian’s name has so many "s"s in it makes Cathcart suspicious.
  • Yossarian was naked when he received his Distinguished Flying Cross from General Dreedle.
  • Cathcart and Korn have a house in the hills.
  • No one has the balls to ask Major __ de Coverley what his first name is.
  • Cathcart does self-analysis, listing "Black Eyes!!!" and "Feathers in My Cap!!!!!"
  • Cathcart wants to be viewed as a leader, so he makes his men fly more missions than everyone else. He wants to be a General.
  • General Dreedle and Colonel Moodus bicker.
  • At the briefing before the mission at Avignon, Yossarian moans because he is in love with Dreedle’s foxy nurse. Everyone starts to moan and make other noises.
  • Dreedle orders that Major Danby be taken out and shot for moaning after everyone had stopped moaning. Moodus whispers to Dreedle why Danby can’t be shot. Danby is just taken out.
  • Since Danby is kicked out, Korn has to continue the briefing. He is trying to impress Dreedle to get a promotion. Korn makes Dreedle ill.

CHAPTER 22

  • Yossarian loses his nerve during the mission to Avignon.
  • Dobbs asks Yossarian to help him kill Cathcart before Cathcart kills them by assigning more combat missions. Dobbs just needs Yossarian to tell him to do it. Dobbs also wants to kill Korn, Appleby, Havermeyer, and McWatt. Yossarian talks him out of it; he thinks it would have been a great idea if Dobbs just did it without asking him first.
  • Yossarian, Orr, and Milo go all over the Mediterranean on business for M&M Enterprises. Everywhere Milo goes, he is treated like a god.
  • Everyone has a share in M&M Enterprises, even though it doesn’t make any profit.

CHAPTER 23

  • Yossarian, Nately, Dunbar, Aarfy, and Hungry Joe are in Rome with some whores. They go to an apartment that is like a harem; there are naked chicks everywhere – and there is this creepy Old Man and Old Woman there too. Random.
  • Old Man and Nately argue about whose country is better and about dying for one’s country. When they finish, Nately finds that everyone has left the building, and he is all alone.
  • Old Man was the one who injured Major __ de Coverley’s eye by throwing a rose at him during a parade. This pisses Nately off.
  • Major __ de Coverley is nowhere to be found.
  • We learn about Nately’s life from birth to present.
  • Nately hangs out with his whore and his whore’s 12 year-old sister.

CHAPTER 24

  • Milo explains how his business works.
  • Milo expands M&M Enterprises, though it’s on the verge of collapse due to the fact that Milo bought all the cotton in Egypt.
  • Milo signs a contract with the Germans and Americans so that he will make a profit off of their fighting.
  • Milo bombs the base on Pianosa because he made a deal with the Germans to do so.
  • Doc Daneeka treats Yossarian’s injuries from mission at Avignon.
  • Yossarian decides not to wear a uniform anymore; he walks around naked, wearing only crepe-soled sandals.
  • A naked Yossarian watches Snowden’s funeral from a tree.
  • Milo tries to pass off cotton as cotton candy; he is desperate to get rid of it. Instead, Yossarian tells Milo to bribe the government into buying all the cotton.

CHAPTER 25

  • Chaplain is feeling down on himself. He wants to go home to be with his wife and three kids.
  • He feels like he knew Yossarian in a previous life.
  • He freaks himself out by imagining bad things happening to his family.
  • He tries to make sense of the naked man in the tree during Snowden’s funeral. He thinks it is a sign from God.
  • He tries to talk to Major Major about Cathcart’s men having to fly more missions than others. But Major Major doesn’t see anyone while he’s in his office. Major Major goes to Chaplain’s tent to talk to him, but Chaplain is at Major Major’s office.
  • Chaplain runs into Captain Flume in the woods. Flume wants to know if Chief is dead yet, because if he is, Flume can return to his tent and not worry about Chief slitting his throat. Chaplain believe Flume is a sign from God.
  • Chaplain can’t tell what is real.
  • Cathcart promotes Corporal Whitcomb to Sergeant for coming up with the idea to send form letters of condolence to families of dead men. Cathcart thinks this will get him featured in the Saturday Evening Post.
  • Chaplain thinks about all the feelings of déjà vu that he’s had.
  • Cathcart goes off on Chaplain, naming all the guy's flaws.
  • What happened the night Cathcart tried to get Chaplain kicked out of the officers’ club.
  • Chaplain feels that his faith is being tested. But he stays strong due to his vision of the naked man in the tree and his encounter with Captain Flume in the woods.

CHAPTER 26

  • Nately is in love with a whore who doesn’t want to be with him.
  • Yossarian is shot in the thigh during the mission to Parma. He goes to the hospital.
  • He and Dunbar jump from bed to bed, assuming the identities of the men they kicked out of the beds.
  • Nurse Cramer believes that Yossarian’s body belongs to the US Government because they spent money on his training.

CHAPTER 27

  • We learn a little bit ‘bout Nurse Sue Ann Duckett.
  • Yossarian and Dunbar assault her.
  • Yossarian ordered to go to the psychiatrist, Major Sanderson, because he has a recurring dream about holding a live fish in his hand.
  • Everything reminds Yossarian of sex.
  • Dobbs wants to kill Cathcart.
  • Doc Daneeka thinks that there’s a plot to send him to a dinky island in the Pacific.
  • Chaplain goes to Wintergreen to get help in sending Yossarian home. Wintergreen says no.
  • Yossarian sent back to duty.
  • The Germans are getting their asses kicked. The end of the war is near.

CHAPTER 28

  • Yossarian goes to Dobbs to say he’s in for bumping off Cathcart. But now, Dobbs is almost done with all his missions and doesn’t want to kill Cathcart anymore.
  • Sergeant Knight tells the story about getting shot down and crash-landing in the water as a member of Orr’s crew during the second mission to Avignon.
  • Yossarian wants to kill Orr for repeatedly taking apart and putting together the stove in their tent.
  • Orr is shot down on almost every mission.
  • Yossarian actually likes Orr. He thinks his roommate is sweet.
  • Orr tells Yossarian that the whores don’t like him (Yossarian).
  • Orr asks Yossarian to be on his crew; but Yossarian doesn’t feel safe flying with him and says no way Jose.
  • Orr is presumed dead after getting shot down during the mission to Bologna. The rest of his crew survives.

CHAPTER 29

  • Peckem is oblivious to others. He spends his time trying to outdo General Dreedle.
  • Colonel Scheisskopf arrives in Pianosa. He is pissed off that he can’t have parades. He ends up postponing parades that were never held on the Base in the first place.
  • Just for kicks, Peckem gets Scheisskopf and Cargill to hate each other. He makes each man think that he is on his side.
  • Yossarian’s squadron doesn’t want to bomb a little town without first warning the innocent people who live there.
  • Cathcart thinks everyone is out to get him.

CHAPTER 30

  • Dunbar is feeling low. He doesn’t care about anything anymore.
  • Yossarian recalls Snowden’s death.
  • Yossarian goes off on McWatt for flying like a yahoo.
  • Yossarian and Nurse Duckett become hot and heavy.
  • McWatt buzzes the beach for fun. He gets too low and his propeller ends up cutting Kid Sampson in half. Everyone on the beach freaks out and runs back to the Base. They all watch as McWatt’s crew parachute out. Yossarian is the only one who realizes what’s going to happen next and tries to stop it. But it’s too late: McWatt crashes his plane into a mountain.
  • Because of the deaths of Kid Sampson and McWatt, Cathcart raises the required missions to 65.

CHAPTER 31

  • Doc Daneeka was listed as being on McWatt’s plane. Everyone thinks he’s dead, despite the fact that he is walking and talking, trying to convince everyone that he is alive.
  • Mrs. Daneeka gets a letter informing her of her husband’s death. Then she gets a letter from her husband telling her that he’s still alive. But the military tells her that he’s dead. She becomes rich, collecting her husband’s life insurance and pension.
  • Doc Daneeka relies on Sergeant Towser and Milo to help him eat; since he’s dead, he can’t get paid.
  • He sends another letter to his wife at the same time that Cathcart sends a form letter of condolence to her about her husband’s death.
  • Confused, Mrs. Daneeka packs up her kids and moves.

CHAPTER 32

  • It is winter.
  • Kid Sampson’s legs wash ashore; no one acknowledges it.
  • Yossarian thinks about all the people he’s ever known who are now dead.
  • He believes that Death will beat him in the end.
  • Yossarian gets four new roommates, now that Orr is dead. He hates them and kicks them out. Besides, the dead man is still in his tent.
  • Yossarian is stuck with his roommates who start calling him "Yo-Yo." They annoy him because they’re all so happy all the time. He tries to get the Chief to move in to annoy his roomies. But no.
  • Chief is prepared to die of pneumonia because his roommate, Flume, has moved back into the tent.
  • The roomies remove all the dead guy’s stuff from the tent. Yossarian is shocked how easily they did it; he fears that they will get rid of him just as fast. So, Yossarian goes to Rome with Hungry Joe.

CHAPTER 33

  • Yossarian misses Nurse Duckett while in Rome, so he ends up screwing around with a bunch of random whores.
  • Nately’s Whore is being held in a hotel room by military guys. They won’t let her go; they just want her to hate them. She doesn’t. Yossarian saves her.
  • After a good night’s sleep, Nately’s Whore falls in love with Yossarian.
  • Nately pulls a Manly Powertrip on his whore. They have a lovers’ quarrel. Everyone calls Nately crazy because he is trying to order people around.
  • Nately has to go to the hospital after Yossarian punches him in the nose.

CHAPTER 34

  • Everyone gets drunk and sick because there is so much booze and food for Thanksgiving.
  • Yossarian is awakened by some prankster in the hills shooting a machine gun. Pissed off, he goes up to shoot the jerk. On the way, Nately tries to stop him; that’s when Yossarian punches Nately in the nose. Dunbar had gone up to shoot the prankster, too.
  • Dunbar and Yossarian go into the hospital. Nately and his broken nose are there. Yossarian feels bad for having bopped him, but is amused at Nately’s bruised face.
  • Hungry Joe pretends he has appendicitis just so he can get into the hospital and take pics of Yossarian feeling up Nurse Duckett.
  • Nurse Duckett is to get hitched to a doctor.
  • Chaplain feels fabulous for lying about feeling ill. He decides that a lie can’t possibly be a sin because it felt so good to lie!
  • The Soldier in White is back. Everyone runs up and down the ward freaking out. They think that there’s no one inside. The Military Police are called in to calm everyone down.
  • Nurse Duckett tells Yossarian to meet her in the closet. He thinks he’s gonna get lucky, but he’s wrong. She wants to tell him that "They’re going to disappear Dunbar." No one knows who "they" are; no one knows what it means.
  • Yossarian tries to warn Dunbar, but he can’t find him. Eek!

CHAPTER 35:

  • Yossarian prays for the first time in his life.
  • Chief White Halfoat dies of pneumonia like he has been saying all along.
  • M&M Enterprises becomes the only game in town.
  • Milo asks Cathcart to assign him to more combat missions. Cathcart offers to run M&M with Korn while Milo is off fighting. But Cathcart doesn’t understand Milo’s briefing about running the business (you won’t either). Cathcart forbids Milo from flying so that Milo can continue running M&M.
  • Cathcart raises the required number of missions to 80 and hopes that Yossarian is killed.
  • The squadron is thrown into a mission bright and early the next morning. Dobbs crashes into Nately. The two of them and their crews die.

CHAPTER 36

  • After Nately dies, Chaplain thinks about Death 24/7.
  • Chaplain is taken to Group Headquarters to be asked questions about the serious crime he committed. No one knows what the crime is. It’s a totally Kafka-esque.
  • Chaplain is accused of being Washington Irving and of stealing a plum tomato from Cathcart (even though Cathcart gave him the tomato; Cathcart denies it).
  • Because he is being questioned, Chaplain must be guilty. They set him free.
  • Chaplain is as mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore!!!! He can’t deal with the ridiculous crap that goes on around him.
  • Chaplain goes to Korn to make a complaint against Cathcart for raising the number of required missions all the time. But Chaplain has no pull.

CHAPTER 37

  • General Peckem replaces General Dreedle.
  • Colonel Scheisskopf is promoted to Lieutenant General, making him the Big Kahuna. He wants parades.
  • Peckem is pissed off; he asks Ex-Sergeant Wintergreen to explain how Scheisskopf got promoted.

CHAPTER 38

  • Yossarian refuses fight anymore. He gets sent to rest in Rome.
  • He tells Nately’s Whore that Nately is dead. She tries to stab him to death. They have a knockout, drag-out fight for 2 ½ pages. Then they start to get it on; Yossarian starts to fall in love with her. Then she tries to kill him again. Then she starts to bawl; Yossarian comforts her. Then she tries to kill him again. Then the whore’s 12 year-old sister comes in and tries to kill him.
  • Yossarian escapes to the Red Cross’ men’s room. He cleans himself up. When he walks out, the Whore is laying in wait for him. Before she can try to kill him, he knocks her out.
  • Yossarian gets Hungry Joe and they get the hell out of Dodge. He feels safe.
  • When they arrive in Pianosa, Nately’s Whore – disguised as a mechanic – tries to kill him again. They shove her into the plane, fly back to Rome, dump her on the airport taxiway, and takeoff for Pianosa.
  • Yossarian always looking over his shoulder for Nately’s Whore. Sure enough, she tries to kill him again – this time, disguised as a Pianosan farmer. Hungry Joe and Yossarian get her back in a plane, fly her behind enemy lines, and dump her (with a parachute) out of the plane.
  • On his way back to his tent, random people pop out of the woods to ask him how he feels and why he doesn’t want to fly anymore. The same thing happens to him the next night.
  • Captain Black takes pleasure in telling the Yossarian that the brothel in Rome was busted. Yossarian goes back to Rome to find Nately’s Whore; he was starting to miss and have feelings for her (yeah – the one who was trying to kill him at the beginning of the chapter).

CHAPTER 39

  • Yossarian runs off without permission to Rome with Milo.
  • Milo gives him a hard time about not fighting in the war.
  • The Old Woman at the apartment tells him what happened. The military chased all the whores away.
  • The Old Man is dead.
  • Because Milo knows people who know people everywhere he goes, Yossarian asks him to find out where Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister is. Yossarian wants to take care of her.
  • They go to Milo’s friend, Luigi, the police commissioner. But when Milo finds out about the money that can be made from illegal tobacco, he takes off and leaves Yossarian.
  • The world is getting Yossarian down. He walks around Rome and sees all these weird and depressing scenes. Yossarian just wants a lady to give him some good lovin’.
  • He goes to look for Michaela. When he arrives at the apartment, he finds her dead on the sidewalk. Aarfy threw her out the window after raping her. Yossarian confronts him, pissed off.
  • The cops come, but they arrest Yossarian for not having a pass.
  • Yossarian is sent back to Pianosa. When he gets to Korn’s office, Yossarian learns that he is being sent home.

CHAPTER 40

  • But there is a catch to him being sent home: Catch-22.
  • Korn and Cathcart are annoyed at Yossarian because he has been a bad influence on the men. But they admire him for having the guts to refuse to fly.
  • Yossarian has to accept the lame deal or end up being court-martialed. The lame deal: Yossarian has to like Korn and Cathcart and be their pal. He has to say good things about them when he goes back to the U.S.
  • Yossarian accepts the lame deal.
  • In the hallway outside of their office, Yossarian is stabbed by a private – but it’s really Nately’s Whore!!

CHAPTER 41

  • Yossarian is in the hospital and asks not to be taken care of. They knock him out. Each time he wakes up, he sees different people sitting next to his bed.
  • Yossarian learns that he is a hero. The Chaplain tells him how proud everyone is for saving Korn and Cathcart from the Nazi assassin (Nately’s Whore).
  • Yossarian lets Chaplain in on the Deal.
  • Yossarian learns that he has a pal from the strange, mean man.
  • Hungry Joe was killed by Huple’s cat. While Hungry Joe was sleeping, the cat sat on his face and suffocated him.
  • Yossarian thinks about Snowden’s death.

CHAPTER 42

  • Yossarian tells Major Danby that the Deal is off. Danby tells him that they will convict him at the court martial by having people lie.
  • Yossarian decides to save his own ass. He gives Danby a taste of his own medicine by subjecting Danby to Catch-22.
  • Chaplain happily informs Yossarian that Orr is alive and in Sweden. This makes Chaplain believe in God again.
  • Yossarian realizes that Orr planned the escape.
  • Yossarian is going to run off to Sweden to live his life. But first, he is going to try to find Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister in Rome. He wants to take her with him.
  • Danby won’t stop him. He even gives Yossarian money.
  • Yossarian is scared about what his future holds, but to him, this means he is still alive.
  • On his way out, Nately’s Whore tries to stab him. She misses.
  • Yossarian is free at last!

 

THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART

  • The absurd manner in which this novel is written complements the absurdity of the subject matter therein.
  • Perhaps Heller intended the absurdity to frustrate readers as much as it frustrated Yossarian.
  • To whom does one have a greater allegiance: one’s country or one’s self? On a related matter: How do we define our identity? Are we who we think we are or who the military tells us? And further: What is the truth? Are we to trust our own senses to tell us what is real or are we to defer to what the "officials" tell us is real?
  • When one is able to exercise free will, he is responsible for anything that happens to him. Thus, there is no regret in any suffering which comes as a result of one’s own decisions. However, there is no comfort in the suffering that comes as a result of someone else’s decisions.
  • Consider the significance of Heller setting the novel on an island, which he acknowledges, is too small to accommodate all the action that takes place. Does he do this just to add to the sense of the absurd found throughout the novel or to further the sense of feeling trapped?
  • No one takes responsibility for anything. There is always someone else to be blamed. So, if this is the case, who’s in charge?
  • The only proper response to absurd and senseless situations is to be just as absurd and senseless. Since the military system is so crazy, the people in it are compelled to act absurd. In other words, if the norm is to be absurd, then acting absurd is the normal way to act. How else is anyone to survive?
  • Perhaps any bureaucracy is purposeful in being absurd and illogical, all in an attempt to cause people to feel more and more uncertain about their own sanity and their own judgment. When that happens, people end up relying on "someone else" to make decisions and tell them what is right and what is wrong. And that "someone else" is the bureaucracy – be it the military or the government.
  • Does the end justify the means? If the end is moral, does that make the actions required to achieve that end, by definition, "moral" (even if those actions are immoral in themselves)? Is Morality a subjective or objective concept?