Summary — Chapter 6: Hungry Joe

Although Hungry Joe has already flown his fifty missions, the orders to send him home never come, and he continues to scream at night. Doc Daneeka ignores Hungry Joe’s problems and instead complains about having been forced to leave his clinic. Hungry Joe is mad with lust; his desperate attempts to take pictures of naked women always end in failure, as the pictures do not come out. In order to get women to pose for him, Hungry Joe pretends to be an important Life magazine photographer—ironically, he really was a photographer for Life before the war. Hungry Joe has flown six tours of duty, but every time he finishes one, Colonel Cathcart raises the number of missions required before Hungry Joe can be sent home. With each increase in the minimum number of missions, Hungry Joe’s nightmares stop until he finishes another tour. The narrator tells us that Colonel Cathcart is very brave about volunteering his men for the most dangerous missions.

Appleby, another member of the squadron, is equally brave in his Ping-Pong games. One night, Orr, Yossarian’s roommate, attacks Appleby in the middle of a game. A fight breaks out, and Chief White Halfoat breaks the nose of Colonel Moodus, General Dreedle’s son-in-law. General Dreedle so enjoys witnessing this abuse of his son-in-law that he keeps calling Chief White Halfoat in to repeat the performance and moves him into Doc Daneeka’s tent to make sure that Halfoat remains in top physical condition.

Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen gives Yossarian another definition of Catch-22, one that requires him to fly the extra missions that Colonel Cathcart orders, even though Twenty-seventh Air Force regulations demand only forty missions. The reasoning is that the regulations state also that Yossarian must obey all of Cathcart’s orders, and Cathcart has raised the number of missions again, this time to fifty-five.

Summary — Chapter 7: McWatt

McWatt, Yossarian’s pilot, manages to display a cheeriness in the face of war, even though he is perfectly sane. This contradiction leads Yossarian to believe that McWatt, who is smiling and polite and who loves to whistle show tunes, is the “craziest combat man” in the unit.

Yossarian gets a letter from Doc Daneeka about his liver that orders the mess hall to give Yossarian all the fresh fruit he wants. Nervous that his liver will improve—which would mean having to leave the hospital—Yossarian refuses to eat the fruit. Milo, however, tries to persuade Yossarian to sell the fruit on the black market, but Yossarian refuses. Milo explains to Yossarian his desire to serve the best meals in the entire world in his mess hall and his nervousness about his chef, Corporal Snark, who poisoned his entire previous squadron by putting GI soap in the sweet potatoes.

Milo becomes indignant when he learns that a C.I.D. (Criminal Investigation Division) man is searching for a criminal who has been forging Washington Irving’s name in censored letters. He thinks the investigation is a ploy to expose him for selling items on the black market. Milo wants to organize the men into a syndicate, a concept that he tries to explain to Yossarian by stealing McWatt’s bedsheet, ripping it into pieces, and redistributing it. Yossarian does not understand Milo’s version of economics, which largely involves cheating whomever he is trading with and then claiming moral superiority.