Catch-22

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Catch-22 Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Yossarian has another flashback, this time to his training before the war. To get out of physical exercise, he also checked into the hospital for an appendix ailment; they had to keep him under observation for five days. In that time nothing could be proved wrong with him.
Appendix ailments, like liver ailments, are serious enough to require medical intervention, and this intervention tends to last a few days, while tests can be run. Yossarian uses such faked conditions to manipulate the army.
Themes
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife, with whom Yossarian is having an affair, comes to visit him in the hospital over Thanksgiving. She asks what Yossarian is thankful for, and he can find nothing. He curses God generally, and Scheisskopf’s wife becomes nervous, saying he shouldn’t do that. Although she doesn’t believe in God, she says, the God she doesn’t believe in is a just God.
An interesting catch-22. Although Scheisskopf’s wife believes God is not real, she nevertheless believes that her fictional God behaves as a real God would—therefore it is useful not to curse this (fictional) God, perhaps on the off chance that he is real, after all.
Themes
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Yossarian finds a soldier who declares he sees everything twice, and decides to imitate that man’s ailment. When Yossarian makes his own declaration, the nurses and doctors snap to attention. Meanwhile, the Soldier Who Sees Everything Twice actually dies, and his family is coming to visit him. The doctors ask Yossarian to stand in for the dying soldier, to make his family feel better for having visited.
It is never actually explained what this soldier’s ailment is, although it sounds like a kind of post-traumatic stress (although they are only in boot camp at this point). Of course, ironically, the soldier is actually “duplicated” when he is impersonated by Yossarian, during the family’s visit.
Themes
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
They wrap Yossarian in bandages, to make him unrecognizable, and bring in the family, a mother, father, and brother. Yossarian insists that his name is Yossarian, and the father seems almost to accept that his son’s name is actually Yossarian and not Giuseppe. But ultimately the parents decide that Yossarian must be delirious.
Yossarian does such a good job insisting his name is Yossarian, even the father of the boy seems almost to question just exactly what his son’s name is—although perhaps he does this in order not to disturb his (reputedly) dying son.
Themes
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
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His “family members” give Yossarian advice, since they believe he will die. They tell him to be strong in heaven, not to be pushed around by others there for his Italian heritage. His mother tells him to dress warm for his trip to the afterlife.
An instance of black humor. This Italian family believes that, even in heaven, there is a possibility that anti-Italian discrimination might exist.
Themes
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon