Study Guide

Catch-22 Chapter 6

By Joseph Heller

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Chapter 6

  • Remember Hungry Joe? He's the one who has long since completed his fifty missions and has gone crazy waiting to go home. He hears noises in his head and can't stand repetitive sounds.
  • Hungry Joe likes to take pictures of naked girls, but they never come out as visible pictures. He also never gets any, though it's not from lack of trying.
  • Hungry Joe has flown six full combat tours of duty, more than anyone else. He has a routine: after each combat tour of duty, he promptly crumbles into insanity, suffering through horrendous nightmares that keep him screaming throughout the night. Once the tours start again, though, he is calm and happy. He has an "inverted set of responses," as Heller tells us. So he acts the opposite way you'd expect.
  • Hungry Joe denies ever having nightmares. To be fair, he is asleep during them.
  • We learn that Yossarian feels guilty about a mission he flew over Ferrera because one of his men – a kid named Kraft – died there.
  • Colonel Cathcart is always volunteering his men for the most dangerous missions. He volunteered them for Ferrera.
  • One night, as the men are playing Ping-Pong, Orr gets drunk, loses to Appleby, and promptly attacks him. A big fight breaks out that results in Chief White Halfoat punching Colonel Moodus, Dreedle's hated son-in-law, in the nose.
  • Dreedle is so pleased that he constantly has Halfoat punch Moodus in the nose.
  • Chief White Halfoat rooms with Captain Flume, who is mortally afraid of him. He is afraid of Halfoat slitting his throat while he is asleep. Why? Oh, because Chief White Halfoat threatened him one night when he was drunk. He meant it as a joke but soon embraces the fearful Flume as his own personal creation and looks on him with pride.
  • We learn that Major Major is devastated by the news that Major Duluth has been killed over Perugia, and that he is the new squadron commander now. Because of this news, Major Major loses the almost-friends he had. (This will be explained in more detail later, although it will probably not alleviate your confusion.)
  • Yossarian asks Wintergreen if Doc Daneeka is correct in saying the men must only complete forty missions to satisfy the Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters (ten fewer than Colonel Cathcart requires). Wintergreen confirms this. Yossarian is jubilant because he thinks this means he can go home.
  • Then Wintergreen springs Catch-22 on him, which states that one must do whatever one's commanding officer tells him – no matter what the Air Force says. Thus, Yossarian must fly the required fifty missions. Yossarian is disappointed.
  • Then comes the final blow. Yossarian discovers that Cathcart has raised the number of required missions to fifty-five.

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