Catch-22 | Study Guide

Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 | Chapter 26 : Aarfy | Summary



Nately is miserable. He's in love with "his" whore, and she doesn't care about him at all. Aarfy jeers at him for not picking someone more socially eligible.

Aarfy's lack of navigating skills keeps leading the squadron's planes into danger. During one mission the plane is exposed to heavy flak, and Yossarian is wounded in the thigh. For once he genuinely needs to be in the hospital. He and Dunbar entertain themselves by using other patients' names and switching beds with them.

A furious Nurse Cramer orders Yossarian back to bed. She tells him his leg belongs to the U.S. government, just like a gear or a bedpan, and adds that the army has invested a lot of money in making Yossarian a pilot. Yossarian tries to punch her but falls over, and Nurse Duckett puts him back to bed.


Readers have seen that, although almost every chapter in Catch-22 is named for one of the characters, it doesn't mean the chapter will revolve around that character. At the same time, readers are meant to take special notice of the "title character." In Aarfy's chapter, it's becoming clear that he's a psychopath.

Aarfy is amused when his navigational blunder brings his plane under heavy fire. He pretends not to hear Yossarian screaming that he's been hit; in fact, he pretends not to see the blood coursing from Yossarian's wound. He's completely without conscience, and he doesn't care. It would be simplistic to say that Aarfy is a "symbol" for evil, but he's arguably the most frightening character in the book.

A side note: Nurse Cramer's belief that Yossarian's leg belongs to the government smacks of the idea that individuals count for nothing in the army. This is why Yossarian tries to punch her.

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