Catch-22

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Catch-22 Chapter 40 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
But there’s is a catch, of course—a catch-22. Cathcart and Korn tell Yossarian that he will be sent home only if he pretends that he is friends with Cathcart, Korn, and the other officers—if Yossarian will agree to say only good things about the group and about the military generally. They believe Yossarian will find this deal quite loathsome.
The final catch-22 in the novel. Yossarian believes, at first, that this catch is totally manageable—he believes he is willing to lie about his affection for his commanding officers, because it is a small price to pay for his freedom. He will later change his mind.
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
Korn, who takes this opportunity to ridicule Cathcart, and to demonstrate to Yossarian that he has been in charge of Cathcart’s decision-making process all along, says that they have enough information against Yossarian to court-marshal him, especially after Yossarian went AWOL to Rome. But they would prefer that he left quietly.
Because Yossarian has now broken military regulations in a well-documented way, going AWOL to Rome, Korn and Cathcart believe they can blackmail him into accepting their final offer—thus getting Yossarian out of their hair while ensuring that they themselves continue to look good.
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 worry that, if Yossarian were court-marshaled, other soldiers would rally to his cause. Thus they ask simply that Yossarian leave their office, and the military, pretending that he has no complains with the military leadership. They will allow him to be honorably discharged, to fly no more missions, and to go home immediately. Yossarian has some doubts about the deal, but he quickly accepts it.
Cathcart and Korn do not want Yossarian to be a martyr—they know that he is popular among the men, now more so than ever, and they fear that Yossarian’s unwillingness to fly missions will infect the others, keep all the group’s soldiers on the ground, and in so doing stop them—Cathcart and Korn—from achieving their own ambitions.
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
When Yossarian is leaving their office, however, he is attacked by Nately’s prostitute, who has been lying in wait for him once again. Yossarian is stabbed several times, until Korn and Cathcart emerge and frighten her off, thus keeping Yossarian from dying.
Just when Yossarian least expects it, Nately’s prostitute arrives. She wounds him more severely than he has ever been wounded in combat. She does so because she thinks he was responsible for Nately’s death, which is not true. But at this moment, when Yossarian has agreed to take the deal from Korn and Cathcart, it can be argued that he is not living up to his responsibility he has taken on to refuse to fly as a kind of defiance of the treatment of his fallen and still living friends. So in a sense the Nately’s prostitute is not entirely wrong to attack him.
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
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