Study Guide

Catch-22 Chapter 3

By Joseph Heller

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Chapter 3

  • When Yossarian returns from the hospital, nobody is around except Orr and a dead man in Yossarian's tent.
  • Orr is fixing a leak in the faucet. This makes Yossarian nervous.
  • Orr tells Yossarian a random fact: when he was a kid, he used to walk around with one crab apple in each cheek. Yossarian asks why. Big mistake.
  • Orr skirts around the question, saying that crab apples are better than horse chestnuts. The only answer Yossarian can get out of Orr is that he wanted big cheeks. Why? A good question. Keep 'em coming.
  • Yossarian eventually stops questioning Orr because he knows it will be useless.
  • He recalls a time when a prostitute kept beating Orr over the head with a shoe, for a reason he has yet to discover. Orr only giggled as she hit him but was eventually knocked unconscious. Weird.
  • Orr tries to bait Yossarian by asking him if he wants to know why the prostitute kept beating him. Yossarian doesn't bite.
  • We learn that General Peckem and General Dreedle are rivals. General Peckem tries to tell General Dreedle's soldiers how to pitch their tents and General Dreedle retaliates, saying it's none of Peckem's business.
  • A mail-clerk named Wintergreen resolves their dispute by trashing all of Peckem's orders because he finds Peckem's writing style too prolix.
  • General Peckem, to save face, orders Colonel Cargill to muster up as much enthusiasm among his soldiers as he can. Yossarian is one of the soldiers.
  • We learn that there are several soldiers who have finished their fifty missions and are waiting nervously to be sent home.
  • Heller hints that nobody has been sent home yet. Boo. And the soldiers are nervous because they know Colonel Cathcart might raise the number of required missions at any time. That would be like The Man adding a year to high school every time you were a senior.
  • Colonel Cargill is a bad marketing executive – so bad that companies come to him when they want losses to record for tax purposes.
  • He is proud of his ineptitude. Meaning, he's happy to suck at his job. He orders his men to have fun.
  • Doc Daneeka still refuses to discharge Yossarian. He insists that his own troubles are worse than everyone else's.
  • Even though Yossarian is his friend, the Doc does nothing to help him. He suggests only that Yossarian take it as best he can – like Havermeyer. Yes, that's the guy who likes to eat peanut brittle and shoot mice.
  • Havermeyer is a lead bombardier, hated among the men because he always flies directly to a target and never takes evasive action. This means the rest of his flight formation suffers because they make easy targets for enemy fire. Havermeyer never misses a target, so he doesn't mind a few dead pilots. Yes, we are supposed to dislike him.
  • Yossarian, on the other hand, always takes evasive action, so much so that his formation has trouble keeping up with him. He's given up caring whether or not he hits his target. The men like him because he doesn't get them killed.
  • When the men confront Havermeyer, aggressively asking why he never takes evasive action, Colonel Cathcart defends him.
  • We learn that Havermeyer really enjoys shooting mice (or perhaps just shooting things in general). He lures the rodents to him with a candy bar, then turns on a light to stun them, waits until their terrified eyes meet his, and then laughs maniacally as he shoots them. Drop jaw now.
  • One night, a soldier named Hungry Joe comes running out at the sound of Havermeyer's shots and falls into a trench.
  • We learn that Hungry Joe has completed his fifty missions and is waiting to go home. He has gone mad from the long wait.

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