At the end of Thanksgiving that year, Yossarian punched Nately in the face—but he claims it was Sergeant Knight’s fault. Milo prepared an especially lavish meal for the soldiers, who became drunk and full, and began fighting with one another. Yossarian goes to sleep; he wakes up to the sound of machine-gun fire, from a gun emplacement put by Milo in the hills of Pianosa.
It seems that every party or meal Milo plans turns into a crazy, drunken bacchanalia. Milo is perhaps the most commonly exaggerated character in the novel. He is a caricature of a businessman, rather than a plausible representation of one.
Yossarian decides to find the person shooting the machine-gun. Yossarian begins climbing the hill, and Nately, who has also followed the gunfire, comes up behind him suddenly. He reaches out to Yossarian and surprises him; Yossarian punches him in the face and knocks him out cold.
Nately, as per usual, is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though Nately is trying to help, he is clocked by Yossarian, who mistakes him for the machine-gun culprit.
Yossarian runs into Dunbar, who has also been seeking out the machine-gun culprit. Dunbar claims Sergeant Knight is responsible, and they vow to find him. But first they help Nately to the hospital, and end up visiting him there a few days later.
Yossarian’s sense of brotherhood is here on display. He never intended to hurt Nately, and he immediately regrets the accident.
During the hospital visit, Yossarian runs into the chaplain, who has faked an illness (Wisconsin shingles) in order to gain bed-rest. The chaplain, according to the narrator, has sinned for the first time, and he enjoys it. Yossarian leaves the chaplain and sees another Soldier in White, wrapped entirely in gauze. Yossarian begins screaming, saying that the Soldier in White has returned.
The chaplain here has attempted his first “sin.” He appears intoxicated with his decision to break the rules, although this experiment will not last. It is not exactly clear what causes the chaplain to return to the straight-and-narrow life, but it might have something to do with his later run-in with the military police.
Yossarian’s dismay sparks pandemonium in the hospital, with others shouting that the Soldier in White is back. Only the Texan, apparently still in the hospital, is unperturbed. Members of the Military Police (MPs) arrive to quell the disturbance.
Although the MPs are called in to make things more peaceful, they will, from this point on, be more a cause of chaos than an alleviator thereof. The MPs will later arrest Yossarian in Rome.
Nurse Duckett pulls Yossarian aside and claims that Dunbar will be “disappeared” by military authorities, perhaps because of his recent unwillingness to follow orders (as in bombing the small village, above). Yossarian doesn’t understand but vows to protect Dunbar. When he leaves his meeting with Duckett, however, Dunbar has already been “disappeared” by military authorities.
It is not clear how Duckett knows this information. But Dunbar’s disobedience has not gone unnoticed, and now Dunbar is being silenced. It appears that the military is extremely good at listening in on the actions of its own. Again, the Army seems to be the enemy to some of its own soldiers, rather than an enemy to the Germans.