Study Guide

Catch-22 Chapter 18

By Joseph Heller

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Chapter 18

  • We go back in time. It's 1943, before Yossarian is stationed at Pianosa. He is in basic training at Lowery Field in Colorado. He calls in sick to avoid P.E. class claiming a liver condition. Some things never change.
  • The officers see through this ruse and want to tell him to get lost but can't because of regulations.
  • They hospitalize him for ten days. Afterwards, he seems to be healthy again and they tell him to leave.
  • Yossarian is saved in the nick of time by a fellow patient who suddenly shouts, "I see everything twice."
  • There is panic. The doctors can't figure out what's wrong with him and so they quarantine everyone for another fourteen days.
  • Yossarian spends Thanksgiving in the hospital; it is the most rational Thanksgiving he has ever had. He vows to spend his next Thanksgiving in a hospital, too.
  • He does not. He spends his next Thanksgiving with Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife in a hotel room.
  • They have an argument about God.
  • Even though Mrs. Scheisskopf doesn't believe in God, she is appalled by Yossarian's pessimistic depiction of Him as "a country bumpkin" who is completely incompetent. She breaks down crying.
  • Yossarian considers it the most illogical Thanksgiving he has ever spent.
  • Then he goes back in his mind to the previous Thanksgiving and we hear a different story – now Yossarian is the one who shouted, "I see everything twice."
  • Then he plays with the incompetent doctors.
  • They inform him that the family of a soldier who just died has come to see him. Yossarian agrees to masquerade as the dying soldier for the benefit of the family – a father, mother, and brother.
  • When they visit him, they don't recognize that he is not their son and the visit becomes surprisingly emotional, leaving Yossarian in tears.

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