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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 16: LUCIANA

Summary

Yossarian meets Luciana, an Italian girl, at the Allied officer’s club in Rome. Yossarian buys her dinner. Luciana eats like a horse and then tells Yossarian that she will not sleep with him that night but the next morning.

Yossarian is alone. He goes to the cabaret hoping that the "bleary-eyed bleached blonde" girl who was with Aarfy will sleep with him. Yossarian is unsuccessful in this endeavor. Aarfy has already seen off the blonde. He sent her home because she appears to be a nice girl, and Aarfy claims that he never treats nice girls as prostitutes. Yossarian is again angered by Aarfy.

The next morning, Luciana comes to Yossarian’s room. They have sex. When Yossarian asks Luciana to marry him, she tells him that he is crazy. She says she cannot marry Yossarian because she is not a virgin. Joe comes into the room without knocking to see Yossarian. When he sees Luciana, Joe tries to take photographs of her. Luciana is wearing only a pink chemise; Yossarian yells at her to get dressed while he wards off Joe.


Yossarian and Luciana push past Joe and run out into the corridor. On the stairs, they meet Nately who has just wasted away all his pay on the prostitute he loves. On the street, Luciana gives Yossarian her address on a piece of paper. As soon as she is gone, Yossarian tears up the paper, and throws the pieces into the gutter. At once, he feels terrible remorse. He misses her greatly. He searches for her but cannot find her anywhere. Instead he goes to the maid in the lime-colored panties and has sex with her.

Yossarian goes back to Pianosa. He meets Joe, who tells him that Cathcart has raised the required number of missions from thirty- five to forty. Yossarian, who has thirty-two missions, decides to enter the hospital.

Notes

Yossarian has gone to Rome. However, when in Rome, he is restless and he yearns for sex. His longing for Luciana, and the "debauched, coarse, vulgar" blonde is not a longing for emotional fulfillment, but a purely physical appetite. Rome, the Eternal City, has been turned into a city of sin. Luciana will sleep with Yossarian but is not willing to marry him. In the crazy world of violence and despair, normal human relationships are not possible. Yossarian has a need for Luciana to be near him. Yossarian’s need for sex turns into a need for companionship. But he loses Luciana the moment he tears up her address.

This episode happens before Yossarian enters the hospital complaining of liver pain. Cathcart’s raising the required number of missions makes Yossarian take this step.

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