Catch-22 | Study Guide

Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 | Chapter 21 : General Dreedle | Summary



Hearing Yossarian's name reminds Colonel Cathcart what a problem Yossarian is. Yossarian showed up naked to receive an award; he flew twice over the target in Bologna, thereby causing Kraft's death; and now he's upset about flying 60 missions. To Cathcart, it seems that Yossarian is responsible for everything that's gone wrong in his own life.

Cathcart is obsessed with becoming a general, but there's already a general in place: wing commander Dreedle. Dreedle never goes anywhere without his despised son-in-law, Colonel Moodus, and his lusciously pretty nurse. All Dreedle asks of his men is that they be willing to die for his cause.

In the briefing room before the mission to Avignon, Yossarian begins moaning with lust for Dreedle's nurse. Other men begin moaning as well. Dreedle blames the major in charge of the briefing and has him escorted out of the building. Delighted at the chance to show off, Colonel Korn leaps in to continue the briefing. General Dreedle tells Cathcart that Korn makes him sick.


It's satisfying to see Colonel Korn get what he deserves. It would be even better if this were happening later in the book so there wouldn't be time for him to retaliate. But people like Korn don't stay down for long.

The unsympathetic Colonel Cathcart becomes slightly more human in this chapter when the reader learns that—like the chaplain—he has been supplied with a distant and lonely retreat where he's expected to spend more time than he would like. The "Black Eyes!!!" versus "Feathers in my cap!!!" chart he draws up to evaluate the positives and negatives of the situation also makes him seem more vulnerable.

As he begins to fill out each side of the chart, Cathcart is suddenly overwhelmed with sadness. Everyone hates him. He'll never get to be a general. His feeling of powerlessness causes him to behave even worse than usual the next time he's in a group: he orders that Major Danby be taken out and shot. Readers may feel relieved to see him back to normal.

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