Catch-22

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Catch-22 Chapter 33 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Yossarian walks the streets of Rome; he misses Nurse Duckett and is upset he cannot find Luciana. He comes upon a group of middle-aged officers, “big-shots,” who are “socializing” with Nately’s prostitute. They won’t let her leave until they’ve visibly annoyed her, but Nately’s prostitute is too tired to be annoyed. This angers the big-shots.
Yossarian returns to Rome as a way of connecting with the people he misses, especially Luciana. But of course Luciana is never to be found again, and the prostitutes with whom the men consort have quickly found new partners (however undesirable).
Themes
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Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Nately, Yossarian, and Dunbar throw the officers’ clothing and identifying badges out the window onto the street; the officers are forced to pad around the apartment naked, covering themselves with their hands or pillows. The big-shots think this is a “splendid tactic,” since without their badges they cannot be identified, and Yossarian and company do not have to obey their orders. They say they have grown tired of Nately’s prostitute anyway, and let her go.
The officers here are presented as total buffoons, although they are strangely more receptive to Yossarian and the others than Cathcart is on Pianosa. These officers in Rome, at the very least, recognize Yossarian’s clever strategy in throwing their clothes out the window.
Themes
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Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
It turns out that Nately’s prostitute’s ennui is simply caused by a lack of sleep. She sleeps well and awakes to find Nately—and her aspect is completely changed. She looks at him lovingly and is totally refreshed. Nately falls in love even more deeply.
Although it is hard to believe, all Nately’s prostitute really needed was a good night’s rest. Her total fatigue mimics the combat fatigue of many of the soldiers on rest leave in Rome.
Themes
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Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
But there is trouble immediately. Nately wants the prostitute to dress when she is out of the room—she had been accustomed to walking around the halls and rooms of the apartment house naked, in between “clients”—and now that she’s his “girlfriend,” he no longer wants her to work as a prostitute. She tells Nately he’s crazy, and he tells her the same.
Nately is not content to wait even a moment before trying to change his now girlfriend. Nately’s prostitute does not understand why Nately is so hell-bent on keeping her from working as a prostitute—to her, it is a reasonable enough way to make money, especially in the chaos of wartime.
Themes
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Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
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After much argument and fighting throughout the apartment, Nately’s prostitute agrees not to sleep with other men, including Captain Black (who had been her other primary suitor), but she does not agree to stop being friends with the old man—the anti-American coward with whom Nately spoke previously. Nately is still upset, but he accepts this compromise.
Nately at least exacts this concession from his new girlfriend. Presumably he is wealthy enough to be able to provide for her, and she no longer needs to work. Nately wants, above everything else, to establish a normal “family” life with his girlfriend in Rome, despite their immediate circumstances.
Themes
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Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon