Catch-22: Chapters 33-37

Chapters Read: 33. Nately’s Whore, 34, Thanksgiving, 35. Milo the Militant, 36. The Cellar, 37. General Scheisskopf

Page reached:: 377 of 448 (84.15%).

Status Report: Holy smokes, the bodies are starting to pile up. In the last 50 pages this book his gone from Hogan’s Heroes to Platoon.

Not that that’s a bad thing. After a hundred pages of holding pattern, having main characters expire left and right strikes me as a pretty good indicator that we are approaching resolution. This is how Hamlet ended too, as I recall.

For those of you who have not yet started the book, it’s probably too late to jump in now and still hope to finish by Friday. Thankfully, Heller summarizes the entire novel in the chapter Nately’s Whore, with this passage:

The middle-aged big shots would not let Nately's whore leave until they made her say uncle.

"Say uncle," they said to her.

"Uncle," she said.

"No, no. Say uncle."

"Uncle," she said.

"She still doesn't understand."

"You still don't understand, do you? We can't really make you say uncle unless you don't want to say uncle. Don't you see? Don't say uncle when I tell you to say uncle. Okay? Say uncle."

"Uncle," she said.

"No, don't say uncle. Say uncle."

She didn't say uncle.

"That's good!"

"That's very good."

"It's a start. Now say uncle."

"Uncle," she said.

"It's no good."

"No, it's no good that way either. She just isn't impressed with us. There's just no fun making her say uncle when she doesn't care whether we make her say uncle or not."

"No, she really doesn't care, does she? Say foot."

"Foot."

"You see? She doesn't care about anything we do. She doesn't care about us. We don't mean a thing to you, do we?"

"Uncle," she said.

She didn't care about them a bit, and it upset them terribly. They shook her roughly each time she yawned . . . Each time she slumped over with her eyes closed they shook her awake and made her say 'uncle' again. Each time she said 'uncle,' they were disappointed.

You can only have it if you don’t want it. Catch-22.

* * *

7 comments.

  1. We have to finish by Friday!?!

    I only just finished Nately’s whore. Curse my fall 5am wakeup schedule, which prevents late night readings.

    Also, I really felt bad about Yossarian’s new roommates.

  2. Damn it… I’m out. Not because I can’t handle the book – no, it’s the schedule that’s killing me. Finals are coming up, and Catch-22 is getting put away for a couple weeks. It was a worthy goal, though! And congrats to everyone to finishes!

  3. Seeing the word “uncle” so many times in that passage made me realize what an oddly-spelled word it is.

  4. Hey, stick it through to the end if possible — doesn’t matter when you finish, after all, as long as you finish. As Junior‘s exhortations helped me through it, I wanted to pay it forward:

    (1) It’s getting better
    (2) The ending wraps up ALL the questions
    (3) You will not forget it

  5. >Seeing the word “uncle” so many times in that
    >passage made me realize what an oddly-spelled
    >word it is.

    “There were terrifying, sudden moments when objects, concepts and even people that the chaplain had lived with almost all his life inexplicably took on an unfamiliar and irregular aspect that he had never seen before and which made them seem totally strange: jamais vu.”

    You’re almost there. Stay on target.

  6. I confess, I got very tired of all of the “whore” passages. The book is very one-sided, gender-wise. Women are only the young (or not so young) whores or prostitutes, or the few references to nurses. Which, of course, is the soldier’s perspective, but still…

  7. This is the best Book Group Bossy’s ever seen.

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