Catch-22 Summary and Analysis
Chapter 22: Milo the Mayor
Yossarian lost his nerve on a mission once because everyone on his plane, including Snowden, Huple, and Dobbs, did as well. Yossarian remembers crying “Oh God!” as the plane fell. Dobbs cried for help, and when Yossarian went to the bay, he saw Snowden dying. One day, Dobbs approaches Yossarian and asks him for his support to murder Colonel Cathcart. Yossarian agrees in principle, but as Dobbs decides to initiate a bloodbath, Yossarian changes his mind.
Dobbs's flying ability is just as bad as Orr's. Milo once sends Yossarian on a mission with Orr to distract Orr from observing where he picks up the eggs. Yossarian feels that such business is stupid and fails to understand how Milo buys eggs from Malta at seven cents and sells them at a profit for five cents. Milo responds with a complex argument about how everyone owns the syndicate and how he profits as the middleman. He finally orders Yossarian to go with Orr to meet two women waiting at the airport. Yossarian curses the mission but goes anyway.
When Orr and Yossarian arrive at the hotel, there are no rooms available. Moreover, people are crowding the streets to see Milo because he is their mayor. Apparently, he has manipulated the market so Palermo is now the world's third-largest Scotch exporter. In turn, the grateful masses now worship him and have voted for him to rule their city.
Milo talks briefly to his assistant deputy, although Yossarian is severely exhausted and only wants to sleep. Orr starts putting horse chestnuts in his cheeks and tells Yossarian the story of the whore who beat him. The men begin to travel to various places where Milo holds positions of power, including Malta and Oran, but cannot find any vacant rooms. Finally, they arrive at a hotel in Cairo where Milo purchases an entire crop of Egyptian cotton. Milo then forces Yossarian to eat some green red bananas and orders him to load the entire crop of bananas before it spoils. On the way, Milo engages in various other transactions on behalf of his syndicate and consequently gives away the bananas.
Chapter 23: Nately's Old Man
Nately comes back with his whore and two of her girlfriends. He tries to pass off the other two to Aarfy and Yossarian. Aarfy offers to throw them out, but Hungry Joe comes in, and they all go away to one of the apartments where there are lots of beautiful women. Unfortunately, Nately meets an old man who declares that America will be defeated and Italy will triumph. Nately is even more shocked when he discovers that this old man shot Major -- de Coverley in the eye. Oddly, though, this old man reminds him of his dad, although they are nothing alike. Suddenly, while they are arguing, Nately realizes that Yossarian and Dunbar have disappeared. He looks around forlornly for the woman he loves. Unfortunately, she has disappeared.
Nately is from an old-money family and has been raised in a happy, sheltered environment. He has never known the evils or hatred of the world. His father is an ebullient sage who decided to send his son to the Air Corps to avoid the casualty-heavy parts of the war. Instead, Nately finds himself with intolerable companions and in love with a whore.
Nately tries to sleep with the whore, but this time she is too bored. By the time he gets into bed with her, her younger sister follows them and tries to imitate her. Nately feels embarrassed as the kid sister follows her older sister, taking off her clothes and not being frightened by her sister's constant jealousy. Eventually, the whore grows bored and wanders off with two of her friends. Nately tags behind with the sister until he returns to the place where Yossarian, Dunbar, and Hungry Joe are sitting around with the nasty old man.
Chapter 24: Milo
Milo busily peddles his business to various officers in the squadron. He tempts them with the offer of delicious food from lamb chops to tangerines, with only a small down payment and a promise of a pilot and plane to pick up the materials. His M&M Enterprises quickly flourishes. Countries from both sides rush to do business with this syndicate. Milo's slogan is, “Everybody has a share in the syndicate.” Milo also begins to make unscrupulous deals in which he is contracted by both sides to fight the other. He is paid commissions by each to maintain the operation.
Since Milo's planes have freedom of passage, Milo lets his planes sneak attack without alerting the German antiaircraft gunners until the planes are in range. Consequently, Mudd is killed, and Yossarian blames Milo. Milo argues that as a businessman, he has the right to profit from the mission, and since M&M belongs to everyone, he has an obligation to defend the interests of both sides.
Meanwhile, other troubles have arisen. Milo's purchase of Egyptian cotton is causing M&M to go bankrupt because there is no market for it. Milo decides to resolve the issue by having his planes bomb his own outfit and destroy the cotton. This creates a fury among all women, children, and decent people, but Milo calms them down by pointing out that he can reimburse the government for the damage, and furthermore, since the government belongs to the people in a democracy, they should just eliminate the middleman and give the money straight to the people.
The men watch Snowden's burial. Afterwards, Milo tries to persuade Yossarian to put his clothes on. After being rebuffed, Milo continues to bemoan the losses due to the cotton. Yossarian tells him to bribe the government into buying it. After initially hesitating, Milo gradually warms to the idea.
Chapter 25: The Chaplain
The chaplain begins to wonder whether there is a God and becomes afraid of people with loud voices. He feels that he is awkward and ugly, although he is actually quite handsome. He also thinks about whether he has had a memory lapse and could be Washington Irving. Questions about death and the creation gnaw at him.
The chaplain ponders his conversation with Yossarian about his first memory and deja vu, recalling that he had no friends before he met Yossarian and Dunbar. He feels unappreciated as a human being by the others in his squadron except Sergeant Whitcomb, who abuses the chaplain's feelings. The only source of happiness in his life is his wife and children. The chaplain adores his wife and yearns to be with her.
He lacks any spine to stand up for himself. After being humiliated by Colonels Cathcart and Korn and Corporal Whitcomb, the chaplain goes to see Major Major. There, Sergeant Towser asks to see Major Major in his office. After a while, he realizes that he is the victim of a practical joke. He returns only to discover from the cruel Sergeant Whitcomb that Major Major came and left the chaplain a message. Whitcomb says that he has torn up the message and says it is related to Yossarian's appeal to Major Major about Colonel Cathcart's increase of the number of missions.
The frustrated chaplain goes outside where he finds a mysterious stranger begging the chaplain not to kill him. It turns out to be Captain Flume, who is terrified that Chief White Halfoat will slice his throat. Captain Flume tells the chaplain that he has been living in the forest, suffering from starvation and cold.
The chaplain returns and finds that Corporal Whitcomb has been promoted to Sergeant by Colonel Cathcart. He says that Cathcart wants to speak to the chaplain about forbidding Whitcomb from sending out the letters of condolence. In fact, Cathcart believes that this brilliant idea will get him into The Saturday Evening Post. The Colonel even begins to criticize the chaplain for his stupidity, inability to delegate any of his powers, lack of initiative, failure to listen but instead finding fault, and being dour. As the chaplain leaves, Colonel Cathcart suddenly becomes inspired to volunteer his squadron for Avignon again since will be casualties and he could get into the Post.
When the chaplain goes to the officers' club on Colonel Cathcart's recommendation, General Dreedle criticizes him.
Chapter 26: Aarfy
Actually, Yossarian is to blame for causing Nately to fall in love with the whore. After the mission to Bologna is cancelled, Nately goes to the apartments rented by de Coverley, where he meets and falls in love with the whore. Aarfy makes fun of him, and Yossarian pities him. Nevertheless, Nately declares that he will marry her, whatever his parents may say.
Aarfy is the amiable lead navigator who tends to get lost. Aarfy also tries to ingratiate himself to Nately's father, who is very wealthy, by befriending Nately. Despite his materialistic eye, he is stupidly oblivious to the dangers of war. When Yossarian is wounded in the thigh, Aarfy keeps asking what is going on.
Eventually, McWatt assists Yossarian and gives him morphine injections to reduce the pain. When Yossarian wakes up in the ward, he does not see Dunbar but instead Second Lieutenant Anthony T. Fortiori. Dunbar arrives and chases out the intruder. He invites Yossarian to sleep in Warrant Officer Lumley's bed, but Yossarian becomes sick. When he attempts to leave, Nurse Cramer orders him to go back at once. She says his body belongs to the government. Yossarian protests, but Nurse Duckett drags him back by the ear.
Chapter 27: Nurse Duckett
Nurse Duckett is a New England, levelheaded, independent girl whom Yossarian finds attractive. One day, he puts his hand underneath her dress and she screams. Then, Dunbar comes from behind and grabs her bosom. She flees, and in the chase, Dunbar falls over and is knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, Colonel Ferredge is hollering at him and Yossarian. Dunbar tries to excuse Yossarian by saying he has dreams about fish. The disgusted colonel leaves and sends the staff psychiatrist, Major Sanderson. They discuss the details of Yossarian's fish dream, in which hand he holds the fish, his feelings toward the fish, and sex dreams. Finally, Yossarian explains that these dreams originated with Dunbar, and Major Sanderson snarls at him and leaves.
Yossarian asks others to generate dreams for Major Sanderson. The chaplain describes one about his wife dying and his children being murdered. When Yossarian tells this to Major Sanderson, he becomes extremely disgusted at Yossarian. Moreover, Major Sanderson continues to insist that Yossarian is Fortiori with a stone in his salivary gland.
Meanwhile, Dobbs insists that Colonel Cathcart must be killed immediately. He describes the plan in detail and quite loudly, despite Yossarian's begging that he speak more quietly. Dobbs confides into Yossarian that the chaplain said Cathcart had volunteered them for the Avignon mission again. Yossarian says he will wait and see what he can do, although nothing can be done.
Sanderson returns and decides that Yossarian has various mental illnesses, including a multiple personality, an aversion to dying, misery, persecution, greed, and maniac depression--and is basically crazy. He agrees to send Yossarian home, but instead sends the actual Fortiori home. The infuriated Yossarian goes to Doc Daneeka and explains the situation. Doc Daneeka admits that he does not care and says that if the crazy people do not fly the missions, who will?
Chapter 28: Dobbs
Yossarian tells Dobbs that he wants to kill Colonel Cathcart, but Dobbs now refuses because he has enough missions to go home. Yossarian points out the futility of the situation, but Dobbs still refuses. Meanwhile, Orr's plane has gone down, but the life jackets do not work because Milo removed the carbon dioxide cylinders to make strawberry and pineapple shakes. Sergeant Knight recounts when Orr discovered all the goods that were available in the life raft. Finally, Orr takes out a blue oar as small as a Dixie spoon and begins to row away.
When Orr returns, he is again working on the faucet and promises that Yossarian will have a nice warm stove. Yossarian asks Orr why he keeps on flying if he crashes each time. Instead, Orr replies that it might come in handy and later on asks Yossarian to join him. They also talk about the whore hitting Orr on the head, but Orr still refuses to explain what was really going on.
Yossarian feels sorry for the small, ugly Orr. He wonders how Orr will fend for himself. Yossarian's mind wanders back to the upcoming Bologna mission while Orr patiently fixes the faucet. Suddenly Orr asks Yossarian if his leg still hurts. Orr offers to tell him why the whore was hitting him but ends up teasing Yossarian by asking him whether he has slept with Nately's whore and his whore. Shortly afterwards, Orr crashes his plane on the next mission. However, much to everyone’s shock and Yossarian's fears, Orr does not ever return.
Chapter 22 begins with another flashback by Yossarian of Snowden's death and includes a description of Milo and his ever-expanding syndicate. At the end of this chapter, Milo purchases the Egyptian cotton. The connection among the various plot elements remains unclear. When Milo creates havoc by bombing his own side to be rid of the unprofitable crop of Egyptian cotton, Yossarian reacts to the death of the innocent people as he does to Snowden's death, with fear and indignation. This is how, in Yossarian’s mind, the events are linked. Milo denies any responsibility and claims that it is good for the syndicate. Colonel Cathcart will reason to himself that someone will die in the mission, so it might as well be his men, for he still cares only for earning enough glory to become a general.
Another peculiar paradox of this chapter is that despite his great political power, Milo seems to be unable to obtain a room. The reader has to wonder whether this is a subterfuge by Milo to coerce Yossarian and Orr to fly everywhere for his business interactions. What is amazing, though, is that just through his business transactions, Milo has converted economic power into political power. The seemingly unprofitable transactions for the syndicate turn out to be personally profitable for Milo as he slowly gains control of a city and, by controlling trade, starts to control the world. Ironically, while both sides in the war are engaged in pointless military engagements and inner squabbling for medals, Milo is effectively taking over the world without anyone noticing.
The setting for the strange incidents that take place in Chapter 23 are the apartments, which are labeled a “paradise.” The description of this place will heavily contrast with that in Chapter 39 when Yossarian returns and finds the apartments and city destroyed. Another parallel situation of beauty and horror arises in comparing Nately's old man and Nately's father. This opposition hints at the abrupt switch Nately will undergo after he wins over the whore. He transforms from a nice, affable person like his dad to a dominating, nasty man who tries to control the whore.
The conversation itself provides much food for thought. The old man questions all of the beliefs that Nately has been taught to believe from his youth. He points out the wasted expenditure of wars and argues that losing wars is actually more profitable in the long run. He also questions the point of having ideals and practically switches sides each time to stay alive. The old man correctly sees de Coverley for what he is, a useless, stupid beggar. These practical notions and his refusal to conform to institutional thinking bear a remarkable similarity to Yossarian's strange arguments, such as the claim that everyone who is trying to kill him is the enemy. In fact, the arguments between Yossarian and Clevinger nicely parallel those of Nately and the old man. In each case, the outcast is dismissed by most people as crazy, and his beliefs as absurd, whereas the man who dresses well speaks the thoughts of the institution. Nevertheless, while the declarations of the former seem subversive and radical, they turn out to be true in the strange world where Catch-22 operates.
Nately's character and background are explained quite well at the end of the chapter. While he has the veneer of sophistication, his isolated, elitist childhood caused him to experience no hardships and to be unable to recognize evil. At first, Nately and Clevinger have similar behavior patterns, but their backgrounds and reasoning lead to different fates. Both have remarkable faith in their superiors and believe every word they say. Nately is very upset when he discovers it is the old man who injures Major -- de Coverley and defends him passionately against the old man's criticism. Likewise, despite Yossarian's contradictions, Clevinger wholeheartedly believes Lieutenant Scheisskopf when the latter says he does not mind being corrected. However, while Clevinger may lack common sense and suffer from intellectual isolation, he is naïve and gullible like Nately. Nately, without much intellectual development, cannot think for himself.
The rapid growth of Milo’s fame and his syndicate are further documented in Chapter 24. As Milo expands and slowly takes over the world, clearly his success depends upon the greed of the officers, who are more interested in eating delicious food than winning the war. This abuse of power, along with other previous examples, highlights ways that the officers are selfish and are using the name of the country and patriotism to coerce their subordinates into furthering their own interests. If nothing else, Milo's success on both sides proves that greed is universal and that free trade knows no boundaries. The wiping out of the slogans written on the airplanes—“Courage” and “Truth”--to be replaced by the label “M&M Enterprises,” proves that money, not ideals, runs the war. Milo’s planes have save passage. If there is a profit to be made, then the transaction is justified. For Milo, every military operation is a financial endeavor in which someone can profit, and it might as well be he.
The Egyptian cotton fiasco and Milo's subsequent self-bombing mission underscore how most people are willing to overlook atrocities conducted on even themselves, if the price is high enough. Yossarian, though, recognizes Milo's false justification for the bombing and continues to protest the death of Mudd. Appropriately, the two men witness the burial of Snowden, who died because Colonel Cathcart had volunteered his men for the dangerous missions just to win accolades for himself.
The seemingly disparate episodes in Chapter 22 of Yossarian's flashback and then his insane trek with Milo are now even better tied together. Milo in many ways resembles Colonel Cathcart, especially in their attitudes' towards men's lives. Lives are expendable when it comes to achieving whatever goals they wish. This point of view will be underscored when, at the end of the book, Milo and the Colonel unite together to run the syndicate.
Unlike many of the other chapters, much of Chapter 25 actually does center around the character named in the title. Its mood and content are also much more introspective than the more descriptive and arbitrary narration generally used throughout the book. The pace of the plot slows down considerably, relatively speaking, since much of it is concerned with troubling issues such as the existence and omnipotence of God, the worth of a man's life, and the power of memory. The last two themes, in particular, are the driving forces behind Yossarian's refusal to fly more missions and his nightmares of Snowden's death. The conversation between the chaplain and Yossarian is particularly interesting. It touches on the confusion of the timeline created by the war. The chaplain has lost a sense of when certain events occurred. This confusion is reflected in large measure in the disjunction of the retelling of the incidents throughout the entire book. It also is telling that the slower, more contemplative pace of this chapter is so rare, as one might expect for such characters during wartime.
The chaplain represents the loss of conformity to traditional social values in light of the war. He longs for his wife and does not sleep with the various prostitutes to satiate his physical desire. That much is fine, but he feels displaced in this insane, cruel world of war and cherishes his Eden away from this mess. Unfortunately, Corporal Whitcomb seeks to subvert the authority of the kind, good chaplain. Rather than serving the holy chaplain, Corporal Whitcomb goes to the diabolical Colonel Cathcart. In return for his betrayal, Cathcart gives him a promotion to Sergeant.
Captain Flume’s experience suggests the downfall of a man who has committed a sin. Like Adam and Eve, who suffer after being banished from Paradise, Captain Flume is in fear of life, cold and starving. While he lives in the woods, he is suffering from malnutrition and is freezing. But has he really sinned? The problem seems to be Chief White Halfoat, who has threatened him. Flume cannot wait for winter in the hope that Halfoat will die of pneumonia and he can return to camp.
As for the chaplain, he wonders about the existence of God and whether he is even a good chaplain. He questions why the Bible is a special book unlike other literature, such as British or American books from the nineteenth century. The choices of books he considers are particularly interesting because they focus upon characters, such as Ethan Frome, who are trapped in life-threatening or personally agonizing situations because of ill luck or social and historical circumstances.
Chapter 26 is another digression. Aarfy is paradoxical. He has enough sense to pursue a rich girl and mocks Nately for his stupidity for falling in love with the whore; he can plan for the long term with hopes to profit from his friendship with Nately. Yet, Aarfy seems to lack common sense and ability to recognize the obvious. He constantly gets lost, in the air during a battle and on the streets of Rome. It is fair to wonder whether he is a dullard after he cannot recognize when Yossarian has been shot in the groin, though he could be feigning stupidity just to see Yossarian in pain.
The bed switching in the hospital is especially amusing. First, there is complete disregard for individuality and military rank. Dunbar pulls rank just to get a desirable bed. Despite his spite for military rank, Yossarian uses rank to scare off an inferior warrant officer. When Yossarian tries to resume his former identity, he is denied this right by Nurse Cramer. This loss of self-identity is underscored when she tells Yossarian that he does not own his body--it is the property of the U.S. government. This denial of basic human rights nicely summarizes the basis for the coercive power of the military bureaucracy and is especially hypocritical, because the basis of World War II was to restore basic human rights of the oppressed. Military life is not supposed to be like the civilian life the military men are fighting for, but the contrast is there, all the same.
When Major Sanderson, the psychiatrist, comes to investigate him, Yossarian engages in another subterfuge to try to get out of flying missions. He succeeds in convincing the doctor that he is crazy. Ironically, while Dunbar creates the havoc that attracts so much attention to Yossarian in the first place, Dunbar's earlier bed switching creates so much confusion that A. Fortiori (a strange play on the philosophical term a fortiori or roughly “in light of the evidence”) is dismissed rather than Yossarian in a case of mistaken identity.
Major Sanderson, the war psychiatrist, provides even more rationale to satirize the medical institution. Like the other doctors, he is incompetent in his field and lacks common sense to figure out the obvious, such as that Yossarian is not A. Fortiori or that Dunbar is the man next to Yossarian and not a persona of Yossarian. As a psychiatrist, Major Sanderson is also more amusing than the other doctors. He interprets all of Yossarian's actions as signs of various mental illnesses. Simple, meaningless actions such as Yossarian rejecting a cigar are blown up into being symptoms of insanity and are analyzed in immense detail. As a follower of Freud, Major Sanderson tries to diagnose in terms of sexual repression. His ignorance, though, results in absurdly false diagnoses, such as Yossarian being impotent, which underscores the incompetence and untrustworthiness of the medical institution. Gradually, Yossarian begins to realize Major Sanderson's incompetence and decides to play a game with him so Yossarian can be grounded. The deception succeeds, but Yossarian's game fails, ironically, because of the mistaken identity, and he foiled again by the Catch-22.
This chapter is particularly interesting in that it parallels the initial encounter between Yossarian and Orr. The two men are again talking about the same odd subjects: the whore and Orr's constant crashes whenever he flies. Curiously, Orr is also engaged in the seemingly fruitless activity of repairing the stove with its ever invisible parts. However, a crucial event has occurred since the initial conversation in the book: Orr has picked up on the very absurd notion of rowing to Switzerland in a boat, using an oar that is as small as a Dixie spoon. Of course, this idea makes no sense whatsoever and appears to be a joke. But Orr's subsequent disappearance forces the reader to seriously consider if what is impossible has indeed happened and Orr has escaped in such an odd fashion.
The most important scene, though, is when Orr magically discovers all the wonderful goods that are available in the lifeboat. While the other men merely dismiss Orr as a loon, Orr retains his composure. He may be acting or even be mad, but there is a method to his madness. Strangely, Orr cleverly uses the logic of Catch-22 to his advantage. Just as Colonel Cathcart indefinitely raises the number of missions each time but leaves an improbable hope for his men that they still might leave, Orr decides that against the odds, he also can hope that he too will escape under insane conditions.
Dobbs, the title character, plays a very minor role in this chapter. His main function is as the narrator of the episode in which Orr discovers the food supplies in the lifeboat. Dobbs's attitude towards Orr is that of the normal person. He derides Orr as being a loon and merely laughs at the entire situation as being absurd. These comments reflect what would be “normal” under general conditions, but Orr is the one who triumphs in the end, successfully escaping from the clutches of Colonel Cathcart. This crazy result shows the crazy illogic of the war.
Catch-22 Essays and Related Content
- Catch-22: Major Themes
- Catch-22: Essays
- Catch-22: Questions
- Catch-22: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Joseph Heller: Biography
- Catch-22 Summary
- About Catch-22
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 1-7
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 8-14
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 15-21
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 22-28
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 29-35
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 36-42
- Plot Structure in Catch-22
- American Anti-War Sentiment
- Related Links on Catch-22
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
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