Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters
General Peckem is a "perceptive, graceful, sophisticated
man who is sensitive to everyone's weaknesses but his own and finds everyone
absurd but himself." With the arrival of Colonel Scheisskopf, General
Peckem is delighted to have two colonels with him. He feels that this will
bring him more prestige and increase his power. He tries to be witty but
Colonel Scheisskopf is unimpressed. All he cares about is to hold parades
and when he can send for his wife. This setting soon brings problems as
rivalry develops between the colonels..
Colonel Cargill and Colonel Scheisskopf attend the preliminary
briefing that Major Danby is holding. The mission requires that the squadron
bomb a defenseless village in order to create a roadblock. When the men,
led by Yossarian and Dunbar, raise objections, Colonel Korn threatens them
with another dangerous mission over Bologna.
Not having any choice in the matter, the men resign themselves
and carry out their orders. Dunbar, however, drops his bombs elsewhere.
Fortunately for him, no one can prove that he did this deliberately.
Yossarian is promoted to being lead bombardier and is assigned
to fly in the plane that is piloted by McWatt. Although he is confident
that McWatt is a good pilot, he is bothered by the man's playfulness while
he is flying. On one flight, when McWatt jokingly flies his plane very close
to a mountain range, Yossarian becomes so furious that he almost chokes
McWatt out of anger. Even though Yossarian apologizes after he regains his
composure, he is very upset over this incident.
McWatt, an easy-go-lucky type of a guy, continues his "sport"
of buzzing. One day when Yossarian is off duty and lying around on the beach
with some of the other men and a couple of the nurses, he sees McWatt flying
his plane. As usual, he buzzes the beach, flying over a raft on which sat
Kid Sampson. Within moments a bizarre event happens. Sampson jumps up and
prankishly tries to touch the wings of the plane. At that exact moment,
the plane comes even closer and a propeller cuts Sampson's body in half.
Everyone on the beach seems to panic and everyone just starts to run. Yossarian
looks up at the plane and sees that McWatt is circling the beach and instead
of landing the plane, he is starting to climb higher. At first the men think
that he just doesn't want to land because he is afraid of the consequences
that he would suffer, but soon Yossarian realizes what he is doing. He starts
to yell at the plane and sees McWatt dip his wings once in salute. Then
there is the sound of a loud crash as McWatt flew into a mountain and committed
Chapter thirty-one is an account of beaurocratic absurdities
that occur after McWatt's crash. Doc Daneeka's name was on the passenger
list and was presumed dead. Even though he is alive and everyone knows it,
condolence letters are sent to his wife and she is given various sums of
money such as life insurance, social security, etc. Daneeka contacts her
personally but somehow the mail is crossed and she gets the impression that
his letter was written prior to his death. Since the official announcements
to her do not change, she is convinced that she is a "widow".
She collects the money that she thinks is coming to her husband's consternation,
she moves to a different location without leaving a forwarding address.
Thanksgiving starts off with a delicious dinner which is provided
by Milo but ends up with riotous brawls. The episode causes some men to
be injured and results in them having to be hospitalized. In the hospital,
the subject of "the soldier in white" resurfaces and he is associated
with the concept of "disappearance" of people.
Nurse Duckett tries to tell Yossarian that she overheard a
conversation concerning Dunbar that "they're going to disappear him."
Yossarian can't make any sense of what she is saying nor does she understand
the meaning of he words either. Yossarian decides to warn Dunbar anyhow,
but he is nowhere around.
In chapter thirty-five, the reader again sees Milo who has
distinguished himself with his strong business sense and has earned a great
reputation of being an extraordinary mess officer. To everyone's surprise,
he asks to fly more missions as he only has five to his name. When he goes
to speak to Colonel Cathcart, he talks in a very patriotic manner however,
his motives soon surface and it becomes quite obvious that he is only concerned
about his reputation. After discussing his business and what would be entailed
if he did not return, the conversation changes from himself flying more
missions to some of the other men flying more missions for him and giving
him the credit. As a result of this conversation, Nately and Yossarian's
names come up and Nately is chosen to fly more missions. Surprisingly Nately
doesn't mind because he wants to stay overseas so that he can be near his
These chapters illustrate how superiors who are in charge
and whose only interest is to upgrade themselves, abuse the power that they
hold over others. It also shows how little regard is placed on human life
and the stupidity of the beaurocratic system.
The theme of insanity is again discussed when Yossarian doesn't
understand Dunbar's disappearance or Nately's reasoning of wanting to risk
his life and fly more missions so that he can stay near his "whore"
whom he loves and doesn't want to leave.