Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters
Yossarian, an American bombardier during World War II, has
faked a liver ailment and has been hospitalized on the island of Pianosa.
He prefers the safe environment of the ward over the dangerous B-25 bombing
missions and plays the role of an ailing service man admirably well. To
his delight, some of the other men in the ward have faked their illnesses
also and since they were actually quite healthy, the men were able to enjoy
each other's company and had a fun time.
This pleasant atmosphere was spoiled when the Texan was brought
into the ward. He was a good-natured, likable person but an incessant talker.
After a while, he became so unbearable that Yossarian and some of the other
"patents" couldn't stand him anymore and they told the doctor
that they felt well enough to resume active duty.
After his release from the hospital, he remembers the conversation
that he had with Clevinger, an officer in his unit. He recalls that they
were arguing about the senselessness of the war and that he had told Clevinger
about his feelings of expecting to be killed. Clevinger said that Yossarian
was being paranoid and psychotic.
He meets Doc Daneeka and tells him that he is unfit for duty
and needs to be sent home. Daneeka tells him that his must first complete
the required number of missions before he can be sent home. He also tells
him that Colonel Cathcart has again raised the requirements and that he
should make the best of the situation. Yossarian pleads to be grounded,
but it is to no avail. He then begins to think of the position that he holds
in the plane when they go on their mission and he becomes terrified for
Yossarian also learns from Doc Daneeka the clause of Catch-22.
"'Catch-22...says you've always got to do what your commanding
officer tells you to.
"'But Twenty-seventh Air Force says I can go home with forty missions.'
"'But they don't say you have to go home. And regulations do say you
have to obey every order. That's the catch. Even if the colonel were disobeying
a Twenty-seventh Air Force order by making you fly more missions, you'd
still have to fly them, or you'd be guilty of disobeying an order of his.
And then the Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters would really jump on
The reader is introduced to a maze of characters and learns
how each one deals with the concept of war. Yossarian, the main character,
presents the main theme, the absurdity of the war. Colonel Cathcart personifies
bureaucratic power in that he can arbitrarily raise the required number
of missions and prevent the men from leaving.
The story jumps from one incident to another and is told in
the form of recollections. This causes events to seem jumbled and not clear.
The main theme of he novel is introduced in Chapter Six.