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Catch-22 | Chapter 24 : Milo | Summary

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Summary

Milo's black-market business is thriving. Every European country has signed up for a share in the syndicate. He's even managed to start a wholly owned subsidiary, and his planes have freedom of passage everywhere—including Germany, which pays him a bonus of $1,000 for every American plane he shoots down. Even Yossarian is more patriotic than Milo.

But when Milo buys up all the cotton in Egypt and can't sell it anywhere, his whole enterprise begins to collapse. Milo makes what he considers a sensible decision: he contracts with the Germans to bomb his own outfit. The attack wreaks unimaginable destruction, and Milo becomes the scourge of the Allied population.

Doc Daneeka performs admirably during the siege, staying out in the open and tending tirelessly to the wounded. He shows the same tenderness to the men as he did to Yossarian after the Avignon mission, when Yossarian climbed out of the plane naked, shocked, and covered with "pieces of Snowden." Since that day Yossarian has refused to wear a uniform.

Analysis

Until this point Milo has seemed more like a likable scamp than the traitor he turns out to be. All he cares about is making a profit. Strangely, he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong. After all, he needs to recoup his cotton losses. Maybe the Germans did start the war, but they pay their syndicate bills properly. Isn't that worth something? Milo is hurt when Yossarian says no.

As in Chapter 22, Heller brings two opposing ideas together here: what seems almost comical in theory turns out to be just the opposite. Milo's ideas are absurd, but they have dreadful consequences. Earlier references to Milo's bombing his own squadron were dropped in casually; now readers see the full horror of the attack.

But Milo is still impervious to what he's done. All he cares about is his cotton losses. He can even rationalize the idea of bribing the government so it will buy the cotton. The business of America is business, after all.

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