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Catch-22 | Study Guide

Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 | Chapter 27 : Nurse Duckett | Summary



When Yossarian makes a rude pass at Nurse Duckett, he's sent to the staff psychiatrist, Major Sanderson, who behaves like a parody of a therapist and diagnoses him as being crazy. Sanderson also believes that Yossarian is actually named Fortieri—the direct result of Yossarian's and Dunbar's antics in the previous chapter.

Dobbs, who's also in the hospital, is more determined than ever to kill Major Cathcart, even though he has only two missions left to fly. He begs Yossarian to help him. Yossarian refuses, saying that his wound will be enough to send him home. But because the psychiatrist confused his name with Fortieri's, it's actually the latter who gets to leave. Instead of going home, Yossarian's going to have to fly more missions.

Once he's out of the hospital, Yossarian rails at Doc Daneeka, saying that a licensed psychiatrist has declared him crazy. How can Daneeka send a crazy man to be killed? Daneeka asks, "Who else will go?"


The crazy psychiatrist has become a joke cliché in popular culture. To the modern reader, Yossarian's scenes with Major Sanderson may seem heavy-handed and not tremendously funny.

In one of Catch-22's early scenes, Yossarian uses fake names to sign off on letters he's finished censoring. Meanwhile, the C.I.D. is still working to prove its case against the chaplain, whose name Yossarian also forged on censored mail. Now, in the last third of the book, the consequences of this apparently trivial action are becoming clear. What seemed like a boyish trick is beginning to have actual consequences, not only for Yossarian but also for the innocent chaplain. Yossarian finally manages to convince Major Sanderson that he's so crazy he shouldn't have to fly any more missions. But because Yossarian switched names with another patient as a prank, the other patient will be sent home instead. Although it has generally been easy to support Yossarian throughout his battle with the system, the reader has a right to be exasperated with him here. He's hurt his own case for the sake of a dumb joke.

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