Catch-22

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Catch-22 Chapter 38 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Yossarian, after Nately’s death, vows not to fly any more missions. He announces this to Piltchard, Wren, Cathcart, and Korn. Cathcart suggests they disappear Yossarian, as they did with Dunbar, but Korn argues, instead, that they should send him on rest leave to Rome.
Nately’s death is enough for Yossarian—he no longer wishes to fly at all. It is clear that Nately’s demise in the air brings back echoes of the Snowden Incident, which is recalled with greater frequency in these closing chapters.
Themes
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
There, Yossarian encounters Nately’s prostitute, who is extremely distraught to hear of Nately’s death, and who blames Yossarian for it. They begin having an enormous altercation, with Nately’s prostitute nearly killing Yossarian. He finally holds her down and tells her he was not responsible for Nately’s demise, but she won’t listen.
Nately’s prostitute has never been more in love with Nately than after finding out that he has died. This perhaps lends truth to the maximum that one “doesn’t know what one has till it’s gone.”
Themes
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
After more fighting, Yossarian lands on top of Nately’s prostitute, who pretends that she wants to make love to him. Yossarian is tricked, and she nearly succeeds in killing him. Nately’s prostitute pulls out a bread knife, as does her kid sister, who also enters.
Again, the kid sister enters at the least opportune moment—in this case, for Yossarian, who seriously appears that he might die at their hands.
Themes
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Yossarian is chased out into the street by the two women. And as he races to get to the plane to get back to Pianosa, they hide in wait for him and almost stab him on numerous occasions throughout Rome. Yossarian eventually escapes back to Pianosa, but does not know that Nately’s prostitute has hidden herself away in his plane. He discovers her in mechanic’s overalls and manages to subdue her, push her onto the plane, and fly (with Hungry Joe) back to Rome. Hungry Joe holds the plane on the taxiway of the Rome airport, and Yossarian pushes her out of the plane there; the two then high-tail it to Pianosa, where Yossarian tells the other officers about Nately’s prostitute’s behavior.
Yossarian’s dangerous encounter with Nately’s prostitute and her kid sister is followed by this long slapstick sequence, which, again, is not intended to seem realistic, but which is rather used by Heller for comic effect, perhaps to lessen the horror of Nately’s death, perhaps to lighten what appears to be the ever-more serious mood of the novel. Nately’s prostitute is perhaps the most consistent character in the novel—willing to follow Yossarian to the ends of the earth.
Themes
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
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Nately’s prostitute returns to Yossarian’s tent and nearly kills him again before being subdued by other officers. Yossarian is informed that he was going to be court-marshaled by his superiors, for refusing to fly, but his medal of valor and 71 missions make such a case difficult to prosecute.
Despite his complaining, Yossarian has assembled a significant war record, a certificate of merit, and a promotion in the field—thus making it difficult to argue he has been a derelict soldier.
Themes
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Yossarian lies in his tent and other officers come to him in the night, congratulating him for the stand he is taking against Cathcart and Korn. Appleby and even Havermeyer, who loves flying missions, both tell Yossarian they hope he succeeds. They are worn down by all the flying, and by constant brushes with death.
Most shocking of these visitors is Havermeyer, who no longer enjoys flying missions, shaken as he is by McWatt’s death, Nately’s, Dobbs’, and Kid Sampsons’.
Themes
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Yossarian runs into Captain Black one day, when he (Yossarian) has decided once again to flee to Rome, and is walking through the camp backward while brandishing his pistol to make clear that he is getting on a plane to Rome and that no one can make him fly any more missions. Black informs Yossarian that Nately’s prostitute is no longer lying in wait for him, on Pianosa or in Rome, and that the whole apartment complex, run by the old man, where prostitutes gather has been broken up. Yossarian is worried about Nately’s prostitute and her kid sister, and goes to Rome to investigate.
Yossarian cannot bear to hear that things in Rome might not be the same—that the war has affected this former paradise, and taken away the possibility that soldiers might go there on rest leave. For Yossarian, war at least seemed bearable if there was a place nearby where he could fully relax, where he could pretend that he might not die in combat at any moment.
Themes
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon