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Catch-22 | Chapter 42 : Yossarian | Summary

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Summary

Major Danby agrees that the deal Korn offered is odious, but he begs Yossarian to accept it rather than being court-martialed. It would be best for everyone, he says. Cathcart and Korn can make up any charges they want, and Yossarian won't be able to do a thing about it. If he's found guilty, he'll go to prison; if he's found innocent, Colonel Cathcart will be disgraced, and the military efficiency of the unit might be ruined.

Yossarian's been thinking about all this and has decided that his best choice is to run away. "I've got friends who were killed in this war. I can't make a deal now." The two men are still trying to figure things out when the chaplain rushes in. He's so excited that there are tears in his eyes. Orr wasn't lost at sea after all. He washed ashore in Sweden.

Instantly Yossarian realizes why Orr kept crash-landing his planes and why he wanted Yossarian to fly with him. Orr had been planning this escape for a long time. Yossarian wishes he'd understood sooner, but there's no time for regrets now. He's going to run away himself and try to meet Orr in Sweden. He's terrified, but he thinks it will be fun.

Analysis

At the last minute, Yossarian manages to save his soul and honor the memory of his dead friends.

His conscience can be clear for two reasons. First, he hasn't sold out. Second, he's fought an honorable war. Seventy combat missions is plenty. Cathcart is the one who's been dishonorable all along by lying to the men under his care.

All along Yossarian has been fighting to save his country, whether he wanted to or not. "Now I'm going to fight a little to save myself."

By saving himself, Yossarian no longer means "avoid dying." He knows now that that's asking too much. His physical safety is no longer the issue for him (which is good, since he's about to put himself in considerable danger). His salvation will come from living the way he believes he should, whether or not it kills him.

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