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by Joseph Heller

Captain John Yossarian Timeline and Summary

  • Yossarian plays sick to stay in the hospital away from combat duty. There, he censors letters. He meets the chaplain.
  • Yossarian tells Clevinger that everyone is out to kill him. Clevinger thinks he's mad.
  • Yossarian goes to Doc Daneeka to request that he be taken off active duty because he doesn't want to fly the missions. The doctor refuses.
  • Yossarian decides to go insane to avoid any more missions. Doc Daneeka tells him it won't work and introduces him to Catch-22.
  • Yossarian takes us back to Avignon for the first time. We learn that Dobbs went crazy and took the controls from Huple, almost getting the plane shot down.
  • Yossarian meets Milo Minderbinder because Doc Daneeka has issued an order that Yossarian must get all the fruit he wants from the mess hall because of his liver condition. Yossarian, however, doesn't really have a liver condition and gives most of his fruit away. Milo admires Yossarian for his business savvy and trusts him from that day forward.
  • Yossarian manages to get an interview with the elusive Major Major by pouncing on him. Yossarian asks Major Major to help him get taken off of duty. Major Major reluctantly refuses.
  • The scheduled Bologna mission scares Yossarian out of his mind.
  • Yossarian moves the bomb line so that it's past Bologna. The next morning, the mission to Bologna is cancelled and everyone rejoices.
  • In an attempt to avoid a Bologna mission, Yossarian escapes for a short while from the base with Hungry Joe, Nately, and Dunbar in a stolen car. However, they crash and are brought back to base.
  • We learn that Yossarian, in a mission over Ferrera, miscalculated and had to go over the target twice to hit it. This resulted in the death of Kraft. Yossarian still feels guilty about it.
  • However, Yossarian is awarded a medal for this mission by Colonel Cathcart. Ironic.
  • During the mission to Bologna, Yossarian cowardly turns his plane around and deserts the mission.
  • Captains Piltchard and Wren send Yossarian back to Bologna to complete his mission. He hits a lot of flak fire, freaks out, tries to get the stubborn Aarfy out of the nose of the plane, shouts directions to pilot McWatt, and just barely lands safely.
  • Yossarian worries about Orr, his roomie, who is always shot down during missions. He is relieved when Orr's plane comes sputtering in.
  • Yossarian heads to Rome for a rest leave.
  • There, he meets a beautiful Italian girl named Luciana and has an affair with her. Here, we learn that Catch-22 applies in Italy, too. Yossarian loses Luciana after their affair and goes crazy trying to find her.
  • We go back to the opening hospital scene.
  • Yossarian pretends to see everything twice so he can stay in the hospital.
  • He then pretends to be some dying son for the benefit of a visiting family whose son just passed away. They don't recognize that Yossarian is not their son and the conversation is surprisingly emotional.
  • One Thanksgiving, Yossarian argues with Scheisskopf's wife about God.
  • Yossarian is upset when Colonel Cathcart raises the number of missions to sixty.
  • Colonel Cathcart considers Yossarian a personal threat and resolves to take care of him.
  • We find out that after the Avignon mission, Yossarian showed up naked in formation to receive his medal because Snowden had bled all over his clothes. Besides Yossarian decided never to wear clothes again anyway.
  • During a mission briefing, Yossarian begins moaning with desire for a woman. His moans get louder and louder until all the men echo it.
  • Yossarian takes us back to relive the Avignon mission for a second time. This time, we discover that Snowden is the radio-gunner and that he is dying in the back of the plane. Also, the copilot Dobbs wanted Yossarian to help him murder Cathcart.
  • Yossarian refuses to help him kill Cathcart.
  • During a rest leave, Yossarian flies with Milo to Cairo. Milo is organizing things for his syndicate so the whole long rest leave is full of flying, packing, and unpacking. Yossarian never gets the rest he needs. He learns that Milo is a celebrity wherever he goes.
  • Yossarian confronts Milo about killing Mudd, but cannot make Milo see reason.
  • After Avignon, Yossarian attends Snowden's funeral naked and watches from a tree. Milo finds him and asks him to try chocolate-covered cotton. Yossarian pronounces it inedible and advises Milo to try selling his excess cotton to the government rather than passing it off as food. Milo agrees.
  • Yossarian injures his leg at Leghorn and gets hospitalized.
  • Yossarian feels up Nurse Duckett and later ends up dating her.
  • He is referred to an incompetent shrink who wants to send him home.
  • But the administration sends him right back into action.
  • Hearing about a second mission to Bologna, Yossarian agrees to help Dobbs kill Cathcart. But Dobbs no longer wants to do it.
  • Yossarian has a conversation with Orr while he fixes the stove. He knows something funny is up when Orr asks him to fly with him. Yossarian refuses. We learn later that Orr has been lost at sea.
  • Yossarian witnesses McWatt accidentally kill Kid Sampson with the propeller of his plane while flying low over the beach.
  • When fall comes, Yossarian is depressed, constantly gazing out to sea and thinking of his dead comrades.
  • He is annoyed when his new roomies come in.
  • He takes a rest leave to Rome, where he helps Nately rescue his prostitute from some Germans who are trying to make her say "uncle."
  • After a Thanksgiving celebration, Yossarian punches Nately in the nose for no good reason. He feels bad about it and apologizes to Nately in the hospital.
  • Yossarian hears from Nurse Duckett that they are going to "disappear Dunbar." This sounds bad.
  • Cathcart raises the number of missions to eighty and Nately is killed flying one of them. Yossarian takes his death particularly hard.
  • He refuses to fly any more missions.
  • In Rome, Yossarian gives Nately's prostitute the news that Nately is dead. She blames him and from then on tries to kill him everywhere he goes, even in Pianosa.
  • Yossarian hears that Nately's prostitute's kid sister is roaming the streets of Rome alone. He feels bad for her and goes to Rome to try to save her.
  • Milo goes with him but is no help. Yossarian wanders through ruined Rome and is depressed. He does nothing to help the many victims of crime.
  • Yossarian discovers Aarfy has raped and murdered a maid. He tells him the police are coming for him.
  • When the police arrive, they arrest Yossarian and take him to Cathcart.
  • There, Cathcart and Korn offer Yossarian a deal. He can return home if he speaks well of the administration back in the States. Yossarian accepts.
  • As he leaves, Nately's prostitute ambushes him. He faints.
  • After coming to in the hospital, Yossarian decides to go back on his word. He breaks the deal.
  • Yossarian takes us back to Avignon one last time. Here we learn that Snowden had two wounds. Yossarian dresses the wrong one, not seeing the fatal one inside the flak suit. When he opens the suit, Snowden's guts spill out. Yossarian is reminded of man's mortality and is horrified.
  • Back in the present, Yossarian consults with Major Danby and decides to run away.
  • The chaplain comes in with miraculous news about Orr: he has washed ashore in Sweden and is alive.
  • Yossarian realizes Orr planned the whole thing and this inspires him to set off immediately for Sweden.
  • Danby and the chaplain help him escape.