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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 21: GENERAL DREEDLE

Summary

Cathcart thinks of Yossarian as a menacing problem. The very sound of his name makes the colonelís blood run cold. He despises it because it is not a clean, crisp, American name like Peckem or Cathcart. He prepares a chart of all the bad things he feels Yossarian has done. These include the second run over Ferrara, the moving of the bomb line during the Bologna mission, and the appearance of a nude Yossarian at the medal ceremony.

General Dreedle, the wing commander, is a fat man in his early fifties. His favorite sentence is "war is hell." However, he makes a good living out of the war and derives great pleasure from seeing that his son-in-law, Colonel Moodus, does not enjoy himself. Dreedle has, in his company, an irresistible, blonde nurse. On nights when Moodus is around, the general forces her, to wear a tight, silk uniform that shows of her figure, just to drive Moodus crazy. The presence of his father-in-law has meant that Moodus has not been with a woman since he has been in the war.

When Dreedle has come to give Yossarian his medal, he finds Yossarian naked in the line. He refuses to wear clothes because Snowden has bled all over his clothes when he was killed. Dreedle gives Yossarian the medal, though Cathcart wants to punish Yossarian for his behavior.


At the briefing session just before the mission to Avignon, Yossarian has begun a series of passionate sighs directed at Dreedleís nurse; Dreedle is angry and seizes Major Danby who has inadvertently blurted out an "ooooh." Danby was supposed to brief the men about the mission. Dreedle orders Danby shot for insubordination, and is surprised when he is told by Moodus that he cannot order the shooting.

Colonel Korn takes up the task of briefing the men. He tries to impress Dreedle by his efforts. But the general is not impressed and leaves the room in a hurry.

Notes

Yossarian is now seen as a threat by his squadron commander. Yossarianís unique methods of protest have undermined Cathcartís leadership. Cathcart does not feel secure in his position. Dreedle, on the other hand, is a pompous, assured officer; he does not mind giving a medal to a naked man. The general is having a good time with his nurse.

At the briefing, Yossarian cannot control himself when he sees the nurse. Dreedle is the kind of officer who thinks he has the right to do just about anything, including shooting Danby. The general appears crazy with power. He also will not put up with any nonsense.

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