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Catch-22 | Study Guide

Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 | Chapter 33 : Nately's Whore | Summary



In Rome Yossarian and four other airmen make a foray to rescue Nately's whore "from the middle-aged military big shots holding her captive in a hotel because she would not say uncle." Aarfy refuses to go; he doesn't want to risk getting into trouble just to help a prostitute.

Yossarian and his friends find Nately's whore being teased by a group of older men who won't let her leave. Dunbar starts throwing the men's clothes out the window while Dobbs smashes up the furniture. Realizing that a bunch of naked middle-aged guys are no match for the younger men, Nately's whore's captors prudently let Yossarian and his friends leave with the girl.

Nately's whore sleeps for 18 hours straight and wakes up in love with Nately. Then, almost immediately, they start arguing. Nately wants his girl to start acting like a conventional girlfriend. She should wear clothes in front of his friends, and she should stop hustling—Nately will support her financially from now on. But he can't persuade the girl to stop talking to the debauched old man who runs the brothel.


For modern readers, calling a young woman "Nately's whore" is distasteful, but that's what she's called by everyone in the book. We never learn her name, nor that of her sister. Maybe the fact that we never learn Nurse Duckett's first name evens things out a bit.

The "middle-aged military big shots" are a disgusting bunch. Throughout the book Heller's been very open about the fact that Yossarian and all of his friends spend all their leave time with prostitutes. But these men are worse—more sadistic and less amusing. Yossarian and his friends seem almost heroic in comparison.

Nately's sudden plunge into respectability is in character for him, but it's easy to see why he startles the girl. She seems the more sensible and adult of the pair. Nately already knows how she lives, so why should she change? Their argument is essentially a restatement of Nately's earlier clash with the old man. Nately wants a fairy tale, and the girl refuses to play along.

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