Fictional island Pyanosa in the Mediterranean Sea, invented by the author’s fantasy base of the US Air Force. Quite real World War II.
However, each of the numerous characters of this extensive literary fresco has its own war, for the sake of victory in which they spare no effort, no life, and some – someone else’s life.
Captain of the Air Force Yossarian for the time being “normally fought”, although in the context of the novel this combination looks absurd. He was ready to fulfill the norm set by the US Air Force in twenty-five sorties and go home. However, Colonel Koshkart, dreaming to become famous at any cost, now and then patriotically raises the number of necessary flights, and to the desired return to Yossarian, as before the mirage,
In fact, for some time now Yossarian has started to fight all the worse and worse. Rising into the air, he sets himself the only goal – to return alive, and he does not care at all where the dropped bombs – on the enemy object or at sea. But the valiantly fighting bosses, ready to conduct the most daring operations, as soon as their subordinates risk their lives. They display a heroic disdain for the dangers that fall to the lot of others. They do not need to bomb the Italian mountain village without even warning civilians. It’s not terrible that there will be human casualties, but an excellent congestion will be created for enemy technology. They are desperately fighting
However, the true master of destinies on the island is Lieutenant Milo Mindderbinder. This supplier creates a syndicate, whose members declare all the pilots, although not in a hurry to share profits. Having received in their use combat aircraft, he buys and resells dates, cotton, veal, olives. Sometimes he has to attract Luftwaffe aircraft for transportation, patiently explaining to his superiors that the Germans in this case are not opponents, but partners. Strongly determined to put the war on a commercial basis, he receives money from the Americans to bomb the German-controlled bridge, and from the Germans – a solid jackpot for undertaking to protect this important object. Inspired by success, he is contracting to bomb the airfield of his own base in Pianos and strictly fulfills all the clauses of the contract: Americans are bombing Americans.
Lieutenant Scheisskopf, unlike the great combinator Milo, thinks hard, but he is a great master in terms of reviews and parades. This allows him to make a dizzying career: from a lieutenant in a few months, he turns into a general.
Absurdity, phantasmagoria in the order of things on Pianos, and those who have retained something human in themselves, perish one after another. But the military bureaucrats and the flying pilots feel great – they truly do not burn in the fire and do not sink in the water.
Horrified by the rampant madness and ravages of war, Yossarian comes to the conclusion: if he does not take care of himself, his song will soon be sung. “To live or not to live – that was the question,” we read in the novel, and the hero clearly inclines in favor of living. He rushes between the military base and the hospital, feigning various diseases and gaining love victories over nurses. The plot moves in circles, and the central episode becomes the death of Comrade Yossarian Sneggie, literally torn to pieces by the next combat sortie, after which the Yossarian declared war on the war.
This episode is reproduced again and again, like an obsessive nightmare, crawling with additional and eerie details. After the death of Sneggi, Yossarian takes off his military uniform – it has the blood of a friend who can probably be washed, but can not be thrown out of memory – and is determined never to wear it again. He will walk around the military base in what his mother gave birth and in this form will receive from the hands of dispassionate authorities a medal for courage. He will move backwards and with a revolver in his hand, saying that everything that is happening is the whole second world! – there is a diabolical conspiracy to destroy it. Iossarian will be considered a psycho, but he has nothing against it. So even better. If he is out of his mind, he must be written off. But the bosses are not such idiots as they seem. Yossarian learns about the existence of the Amendment-22,
More than once throughout the narrative, this mysterious Amendment-22, the full-fledged heroine of the novel, appears in different formulations. Amendment-22 does not exist on paper, but it is no less effective, and according to it, those who have power in their hands are free to do whatever they want with those who do not have such power. To call into question the reality of the Amendment is to incur suspicions of unreliability. It is necessary to believe in it and obey it.
Honest simpletons Nately, Clevinger, Major Danby convince Yossarian that he is wrong in his desire to conclude a separate peace and withdraw from participation in the war. But Yossarian is now firmly convinced that there is a war not with Nazism, but for the prosperity of superiors, and those who in their simplicity give in to empty words about patriotic duty are threatened by the prospect of perishing or becoming a “soldier in white,” a stump without hands, without legs, poked with tubes and catheters, twice appeared in the hospital in the form of a kind of monument to the Unknown Soldier.
While Yossarian frightens his superiors with his escapades and gives himself up to drunken erotic spree, his friend Orr calmly and methodically prepares to do what he has planned. To the surprise of others, his plane crashes all the time, it’s strange that it’s Orr – a jack of all trades. But these accidents are not the result of pilot’s mistakes and not the result of an unfavorable confluence of circumstances. This is a pilot piloting a plan for desertion. Once again, having suffered an accident, Orr disappeared without a trace so as to soon appear in neutral Sweden, where he is rumored to have swum on an inflatable boat already from the Mediterranean Sea. This feat inspires hope in the hearts of those who, like Josarrian, suffer from the whims of their superiors, and instills in them new forces for resistance.
However, capricious fortune suddenly smiles at Iossarian. His sworn enemies, Colonel Koshkart and Lieutenant Colonel Korn, suddenly change their anger to mercy and are ready to let Yossarian go home. In their opinion, it badly affects the pilots in the regiment, and if it is removed, it will only benefit everyone. However, for their responsiveness, they require very little. As Korn says: “You must love us, inflame us with friendly feelings.” It is good to speak about us while you are here and then in the States. ” In short, the bosses of Yossarian are offered to become “one of us.” If he refuses, a tribunal awaits him – compromising evidence is collected plentiful. Yossarian does not think long and agrees.
But here he is in for trouble. The friend of his late friend Nineteen, an Italian prostitute, whom he had tried in vain to wean from her unworthy craft, suddenly saw in Yossarian the focus of those dark forces that had caused the death of her romantic admirer. She pursues Yossarian with a knife and, after he makes a deal with Koshkart and Korn, injures him, causing him to go back to the hospital, and for the first time for a good reason.
When Yossarian comes to himself, he recognizes two things. Firstly, his wound is trivial and life is out of danger; secondly, for propaganda purposes, a rumor spreads through the base that he suffered, blocking the way for the Nazi murderer, who was given the task of killing both Koshkart and Korn. Iossarian is ashamed of his weakness, and he is trying to dissolve the deal. To this, he is informed that in this case he will be sent to court, since along with the report that Yossarian was stabbed by a Nazi saboteur, there is also a second report according to which he was “stabbed by an innocent girl who he was trying to involve in illegal operations on black market, sabotage and sale to Germans of our military secrets “. Iossarian’s position is extremely shaky. The conspiracy does not allow him to go into a deal with the Chief Enemy, but the prospect of toil in prison with criminals, too, is not very like. There is nobody to look for protection. Milo Minderbinder was always more powerful than Koshkart, but now they are united. Lieutenant Minderbinder made the colonel his deputy on managing the syndicate, and he arranged so that other combat sorties would be appropriated to Menderbinder, so that he was considered a real hero. Actually, all business people at the military base have united into a single whole, and against this monopoly, resistance is useless.
After painful meditations, the Yossarian decides to desert to Sweden, and his immediate superior, Major Danby, finds no arguments to dissuade him. Moreover, he gives him money for the journey. The regimental chaplain wishes him success. Yossarian walks out the door, and again, Nelly’s friend throws herself at him with a knife. “The flashing knife nearly ripped open the shirt to Iossarian, and he disappeared around the corner of the corridor.” The escape begins.