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Catch-22 | Study Guide

Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 | Chapter 16 : Luciana | Summary



At the officers' nightclub in Rome, Yossarian meets up with a woman named Luciana. She lets him buy her dinner but refuses to go back to the apartment with him. Yossarian escorts her to a bus depot and wanders forlornly back to the apartment. In the morning, Luciana comes back to see him. Hungry Joe blunders into the room at just the wrong time. Fearing that Hungry Joe will try to take nude pictures of Luciana, Yossarian manages to get her out of the apartment before Joe can take any photos.

Yossarian doesn't plan to see Luciana again. When he realizes how much he misses her, he spends the next 36 hours looking for her without success. Back at Pianosa, Yossarian learns that the colonel has raised the number of missions again. He heads straight for the hospital.


At this point in the book, Yossarian seems incapable of feeling mature love. Repeatedly he falls instantly in love with one or another girl for the tiniest of reasons. In Luciana's case, it's a scar on her back that makes Yossarian realize she's "the One." The fact that Yossarian sees her only once only deepens his feelings for her; the fact that the only reason he can't track her down is that he threw away her phone number makes his passion unbearable.

Yossarian is 28, but he's acting like a seventh-grader, as are most of the men. Many years after Catch-22 was written, it's hard to tell if Heller felt critical of this kind of adolescent behavior. For the modern reader, the way Yossarian and his friends treat women is one aspect of the book that doesn't translate well into the 21st century.
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