Study Guide

Catch-22 Chapter 41

By Joseph Heller

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Chapter 41

  • Yossarian wakes up in the hospital, just as two incompetent surgeons are about to start cutting into him.
  • After he argues with them, they knock him out with anesthesia.
  • Yossarian wakes up to find a strange man with a mean face telling him cryptically, "We've got your pal, buddy. We've got your pal." Yossarian doesn't know what this means or who is pal is. Creepy.
  • The chaplain suggests that maybe he's Yossarian's pal.
  • The chaplain is proud that Yossarian saved Cathcart and Korn from a Nazi assassin. Yossarian realizes this is how the administration is painting the attack from Nately's prostitute.
  • He tells the chaplain the truth and then decides to break off the deal with Cathcart and Korn.
  • We discover that Hungry Joe has died. He suffocated from Huple's cat sitting on his face in his sleep.
  • Then, the strange man with the mean face comes back and repeats his message: "We've got your pal, buddy." Yossarian, scared, tries to strangle him, but the man escapes.
  • Yossarian is afraid.
  • He remembers a time he felt similarly scared and helpless, in the plane above Avignon, as he helped Snowden dress his wounds.
  • Yossarian remembers this painful incident:
  • The morphine has been taken by Milo. All Yossarian has to offer as painkillers are aspirin. Snowden refuses them.
  • Yossarian cuts off Snowden's trouser leg and dresses the wound in his thigh. He gains confidence as he works. He bandages the thigh wound well.
  • Snowden keeps complaining that he is cold and all Yossarian can say to comfort him is "there, there."
  • Then Snowden indicates there is another wound inside his flak suit. Yossarian sees a stain just below Snowden's armpit. He rips the flak suit open to dress it.
  • Then, Snowden's slimy, bloody insides come gushing out. Yossarian freaks out.
  • He considers this to be Snowden's terrible secret – that man is matter. Man is mortal. It is a horrifying epiphany for him. And another hugely important passage.
  • Snowden says he is cold as he dies. Mechanically, Yossarian answers, "there, there."

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