Study Guide

Catch-22 Chapter 5

By Joseph Heller

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Chapter 5

  • Doc Daneeka complains once again to Yossarian about how difficult his life is.
  • We learn that before the war, he used to have a fine, luxurious office – all bought on credit. Business was bad. Then war broke out and business got better.
  • Just when things were looking up, Doc Daneeka was drafted.
  • He tells Yossarian about a newlywed couple who had come to him, trying to find out why they couldn't get pregnant. The husband boasted about having sex with her every night, but when Doc Daneeka examined her, he found she was a virgin.
  • That seems to explain the non-pregnancy.
  • So the Doc gave them a demonstration of sex with the model reproductive organs in his office.
  • The couple goes away fascinated, promising to try the Doc's way. A few days later, the husband comes back and punches Doc in the nose – with no explanation.
  • We meet Chief White Halfoat, a Native American from Oklahoma. He tells his story and we learn that his tribe was persecuted by white men all their lives because everywhere they went, they struck oil.
  • As often happens to people who strike oil, they got a bunch of major oil companies following them around all the time. So Chief White Halfoat's family keeps getting kicked off their land. The only thing that saved Halfoat from this terrible existence was getting drafted.
  • He is barely literate but works as an intelligence officer. Welcome to the world of Catch-22.
  • He hates white men and Doc Daneeka and suggests that he should start digging right now because he will probably find oil.
  • Chief White Halfoat is hell-bent on dying of pneumonia. Nobody knows why.
  • Yossarian decides to go insane to avoid any more missions.
  • Doc Daneeka introduces Yossarian to "Catch-22," a self-defeating rule that says one has to be crazy in order to get out of combat duty. But one also has to request to be taken off duty. And once one requests it, it proves one isn't crazy because he is concerned for his own safety. If he's not crazy, he can't get out of duty. Thus, nobody can get out of duty.
  • Yossarian admires the simple logic of Catch-22.
  • On a new topic, Orr swears Appleby has flies in his eyes, which is why he can't see things as they truly are. But he also can't see the flies in his own eyes.
  • Yossarian can't see the flies either but does Appleby a favor by telling him about them.
  • We learn about mission procedure, as seen through Yossarian's eyes. He takes us back to a mission he flew over Avignon. Let's enter the memory: Yossarian hates how narrow the tube leading to the escape hatch is from the nose of the plane. It makes it very difficult for him to bail out. You know, like when he's getting shot at.
  • During the Avignon mission, Yossarian and McWatt are trying to avoid enemy fire when Dobbs, hysterical about something, almost runs them directly into it.
  • Yossarian is plastered to the ceiling by the force of the plane's nose-dive. He feels helpless. Meanwhile, Dobbs is crying for someone to "help him, help him." When Yossarian asks who, Dobbs says the bombardier. But Yossarian is the bombardier.
  • Meanwhile, a man named Snowden lies dying in the back of the plane.

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