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Catch-22 | Study Guide

Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 | Chapter 14 : Kid Sampson | Summary



After days of anxious waiting, the mission to Bologna is finally taking place. Kid Sampson is the pilot of Yossarian's plane. By now Yossarian is too sapped of courage even to imagine bombing the target; he tears the intercom wires loose so he can honestly say that he can't hear Kid Sampson. He orders Kid Sampson to turn the plane around. Although they suspect that they're going home because of faulty communications, the airmen aboard are delirious with joy.

Back at the field, the men in the plane quiet down. They know that there will be consequences for having aborted the flight. They leave Yossarian alone. Desolately he turns in the flight map and walks to the beach. He takes a swim and then a nap, waking up only when the rest of the planes return from Bologna unharmed.


Adults are supposed to know that putting off a dreaded task only makes it worse. The pleasure gained from not doing the job is soon eclipsed by the realization that the task still has to be done.

Yossarian and his men have that feeling as they return to the squadron—a guilty sense that the grown-ups are watching. For Yossarian the guilt is even stronger. He was the one who ordered the plane to turn around; now he'll have to lie when he explains why. Somehow, his plight seems even worse when he realizes that, if he and his men had flown the mission, they would most likely have gotten away without a scratch.

Everyone suspects that Yossarian faked the intercom malfunction (and a broken intercom was already a weak pretext for abandoning the mission). Worse than that, his action angered Colonel Cathcart, who "got permission" for the men to make another raid on Bologna the next day. Worst of all, Yossarian will have to be lead bombardier in the first formation. By sabotaging the mission, Yossarian gains a brief reprieve, but his actions cause him to regret his decision. He is forced to resume the mission and experiences firsthand what he fears most, the senseless death and insanity of war.

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