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Catch-22 | Study Guide

Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 | Chapter 15 : Piltchard & Wren | Summary



Although the second mission to Bologna is successful, the flight is nightmarish. Yossarian's plane comes under heavy flak, and Yossarian is incapacitated with terror. Navigator Aarfy, in an eerily good mood, teases and tortures him nonstop. The plane is hit by a chunk of flak that destroys all of Aarfy's maps; he just keeps grinning.

Miraculously, Yossarian's plane returns safely as other planes explode all around it. As he nears camp, Yossarian is stunned to realize that Orr is missing. After Orr manages to crash-land safely, Yossarian decides to take emergency leave in Rome.


Like Yossarian, readers are meant to believe that Orr was able to survive the raid. No one (including Yossarian) knows that Orr had been practicing crash-landing in preparation for going AWOL to Sweden. It's not clear how, but Orr manages to get his plane shot up just enough that he can make a crash landing without anyone in his crew being harmed. In any case, Yossarian now has the relief of having survived the Bologna raid and the comfort of knowing that Orr also survived.

Aarfy's odd exchanges with Yossarian are a regular occurrence now, but they still have the power to shock the reader. When Yossarian is so worried about Orr that he tears up, Aarfy points to a hay wagon and says, "There he is. ... Smashed to bits. I guess their numbers were all up." Given the context, it's quite a funny line, but no one in the plane besides Aarfy would say it.

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