By Heller Joseph
By Heller Joseph
Joseph Heller was born in 1923 in Brooklyn, New York. In his early adult years, he served in World War II in the Air Force, which inspired his writing in his first and most popular novel, “Catch-22”. After the war, he worked for a marketing firm and began his writing career.
He wrote many well-known novels though “Catch-22” remains his most critically acclaimed. Despite the fact that it was well-received by critics, it was equally ill received by some and for most of the same reasons. “Catch-22” was an antiromantic war novel before antiromantic war novels were accepted. As it was written after World War II, and before the Vietnam War, the idea of war being something less than heroic was taboo, though, in later years, post-Vietnam, the idea of war being a horrific ordeal became more mainstream.
Many critics appreciated the fact that “Catch-22” was so raw and truthful while using crude humor to describe horrific circumstances, and many others criticized Heller’s debut novel for the same reasons.
The ideas behind “Catch-22” were revolutionary for its time because it was on the eve of the hippie movement and was not scared to challenge authority. While so many other war novels of the time were just war novels and depicted the romanticism and heroic ideals of war, “Catch-22” was a lesson in the grotesque realities of war and bureaucratic authority.
To understand the novel, one must understand what a “Catch-22” actually is. It is essentially a paradoxically winding law that traps people inside of it. A catch-22 essentially tells a person that whatever they need to help them in their situation can only be achieved if they are not in their situation, which means what they are looking for is impossible, and they are stuck in the catch-22 with no control. The only people who truly benefit from a catch-22 are the lawmakers themselves, who often create the laws so they know the loopholes and can break them without repercussion.
“Catch-22” is a series of stories that sometimes fit together and sometimes do not that are told by the main character, Yossarian, while he is recovering from his fake illness and trying to find a way out of a war he does not wish to be fighting. Yossarian and his comrades are fighting in World War II as members of the Air Force stationed in Pianosa. They are disposable pawns in the eyes of their superiors and are put through hell on an hourly basis with lives that revolve around violence and bureaucratic ideals.
The men are promised to fly only a certain amount of missions to be sent home, but once that time comes the number is missions is upped, and they have to stay. Yossarian takes the idea of his place in the war quite personally, not seeing himself as one of many who are in the fight, but wondering why his life is in danger for something that has nothing to do with him. All he sees is death and danger for the purpose of nothing more than a popularity contest amongst the officers, competing for the most impressive reputation.
Yossarian fakes illnesses and even tries to fake insanity to get out of service but is caught in a series of catch-22’s in the process, as are the men in the stories he tells. Eventually, when one of Yossarian’s close friends, Nately, dies, it fuels his desire to be discharged even further, and he gets his opportunity, but at the cost of supporting the officers’ desires to send more men into dangerous battle, which is something Yossarian cannot stand behind so he flees to Switzerland to be free.
Yossarian is a Captain in the Air Force and works as a bombardier. He utterly despises the war and does not believe there is any reason for himself or anyone else to be risking their lives in lieu of the lives of others. He spends most of his time trying to avoid death, which he sees as a certainty and tries to be discharged for any illness he can possibly fake. Eventually Yossarian realizes that everyone around him is dead and escaping to Sweden is his only chance to survive without compromising his morals or his respect for his fallen comrades.
Milo is in charge of the mess hall and serves fantastic food. Outside of the mess hall Milo is the owner and operator of a black market syndicate that involves the trade of food and supplies to other countries. In return, he can order attacks on anyone he wishes, even on his own people. He is entirely ruthless in his business decisions and is so well-loved and respected over several continents that he holds political office in multiple countries and is worshipped as a God in some others. He tells everyone that they have a share in his syndicate and will benefit from it, though it seems obvious he never intends to share his profits.
The Chaplain is a devoted friend to Yossarian and is one of the few people who sympathize with the soldiers’ desire to be discharged and their disdain for the mission requirements being constantly raised on a whim. The Chaplain is turned against by all of the officers and accused of crimes he did not commit. He is constantly plagued by a feeling of déjà vu and wonders where God’s plan is in everything that happens. He realizes that the world and war have been so unjust that perhaps God does not exist and his faith waivers.
Doc Daneeka tries to be a friend of Yossarian, but his hands are tied because of catch-22 which he explains to Yossarian the best that he can. Doc is afraid of flying and thus Yossarian botches the flight logs to make it seem as though Doc logs his flight hours. Resulting from this forgery, it is assumed that Doc is dead, and word gets back to his wife who is excited at the prospect of his insurance payouts. Doc gets word to his wife that he is still alive, and she ignores him and moves away, content with keeping the payments and he is also shunned by the soldiers, who blame him for the latest increase in their mission requirements.
Cathcart is the leader of Yossarian’s squadron and not nearly intelligent enough to be in charge of so many people. He is hugely ambitious, and desperately wants to be a general so he is always making moves that he hopes will impress the officers above him and make him stand out amongst the other colonels. He constantly offers his men up for the most dangerous missions and raises the number of missions they must complete before being discharged. Despite the fact that he is extremely ruthless and ambitious, Cathcart is also quite insecure and always worries what others are thinking of him.
Nately is a young guy from a wealthy family who serves in Yossarian’s squadron and is one of the people that Yossarian is closest to. He falls in love with a whore in Rome and is offended when anyone speaks poorly of her, like when Aarfy calls her a slut. Nately is one of the few people who try to keep Yossarian from getting into too much trouble, though he is not always successful. Nately is killed while out on a mission and his whore blames Yossarian for his death, following him around trying to kill him.
Hungry Joy is another man in Yossarian’s squadron who is waiting to be discharged though every time he fulfills his quota the number of missions required is raised. He used to be a photographer for Time magazine, and, within the war environment, he becomes infatuated with photographing naked women, mainly the prostitutes in Rome. The only time Hungry Joe is calm is when he is on a mission because as soon as the missions are over he suffers from horrific nightmares. He ends up dying in his sleep having been smothered by another guy’s cat.
Dunbar is a friend that Yossarian meets in the hospital. Like Yossarian, Dunbar seems to realize that they are in a war situation and their likelihood of survival is minimal. Dunbar decides that the way to live as long a life as possible is by leading a boring and uneventful life that goes by exceedingly slowly and in the war the only place to do that is by staying in the hospital as long as possible. As Dunbar’s mind starts slipping, and he goes a little crazy the doctors decide that they are going to make him disappear, essentially, but when Yossarian goes to warn him, he finds Dunbar is missing.
Major Major has the unfortunate stigma of being born with the name Major Major Major because his father thought it would be funny, and his mother died during child birth so she had no say in the matter. He is promoted through the ranks at first by computer error and then to simply push him out of the way by people who just do not like him. Major Major is isolated all his life, and when he reaches the rank of Major he isolates himself totally, refusing to see anyone in his office, which only increases his loneliness.
Major —– de Coverly
Major de Coverly is so mysterious that his first name is never revealed. He is the executive officer of the squadron and is quite respected by the men though they are a bit scared of him, as well. He does not actually do anything of importance or anything related to war missions, so the men actually have no reason to fear him at all. He spends him time playing horseshoes, which he is quite adept at, and reserves hotel rooms in the cities that have been taken over by Americans for his soldiers to take their rest leave.
Orr is the tent-mate of Yossarian, and he is a bit on the strange side. Orr is the handyman in the tent and is always fixing things or making improvements to make himself and Yossarian more comfortable. He always has weird stories to tell and tries to get Yossarian to ask him questions that he does not want to know the answer to. Orr has a knack for crashing planes and surviving and offers to give Yossarian lessons on how to survive a plane crash. One day Orr uses this skill to his advantage and crashes his plane into the water only to escape to Sweden, inspiring Yossarian to do the same.
Captain Black is the intelligence officer in Yossarian’s squadron. He wants to be the commander, and he feels as though the only way to do that is to berate the men, so assert his dominance over them. He does everything he can to make the men miserable and fully supports the raising of mission requirements to keep the men in service for as long as possible. He even commissions Nately’s whore for sex knowing that he is in love with her and it will cause him considerable distress.
Mudd is the dead man who lives in Yossarian and Orr’s tent. Though his body is not actually there, all of his personal belongings are there so it is like a dead man lives with them. Mudd was not officially signed in as a squadron member when he was killed on a mission and, therefore, fundamentally does not exist in the eyes of the military. Because he was never processed or listed as having been there, no one has the authority to remove his belongings, so they just stay there until Yossarian’s obnoxious, younger, new roommates move in after Orr disappears, and take it upon themselves to clear Mudd’s things out.
Snowden was a gunner whose death destroyed Yossarian’s confidence and was a turning point for Yossarian as far as his participation in the war goes. When Snowden died all he could say to Yossarian was “I’m cold”. When he died his entrails were splattered on Yossarian’s uniform leading to Yossarian’s refusal to wear the uniform to Snowden’s funeral, instead sitting naked in a tree. Yossarian never got over the death of Snowden and was plagued by it at random moments throughout the novel.
Scheisskopf is first a Lieutenant and then is promoted to Colonel and then General, much to the dismay of Peckem who would have become General if he had not been promoted first. Scheisskopf loves military parades and being the center of attention. He does not pay nearly enough attention to his wife, so she sleeps with any man who pays attention to her, like Yossarian. He is first in charge of training Yossarian’s squadron before he goes up in ranks.
Absolute power is one of the main themes in “Catch-22”. The soldiers’ lives are entirely dictated by the men who rank above them, and there is nothing they can do about it. Laws are woven into complicated catch-22’s that Yossarian believes do not truly exist, and they are constantly being required to complete more missions to be discharged, a fate that never seems to be coming, and for most of the men it never does come because they are killed on senseless missions. The environment is almost cultlike with Yossarian the only one who truly seems to understand the ridiculousness.
Absurdity goes hand in hand with power in this novel as the amount of power and control the men have over the lives of their soldiers is truly absurd. The notion of catch-22 is not only absurd but discriminatory because the only people it saves are those who are in power. The only thing that the high-ranking officers care about is how they look to the other officers, and most of them are not even qualified to be in a position of power. The scenarios depicted are absurd to the point that no one would ever even imagine them happening or understand how the situation came to be.
For a novel that is based on war and the horrors and hypocrisy within, more characters should be fearful of their fate, though Yossarian seems to be the only characters who truly embraces the absurdity of the situation and the real possibility of death. Fear drives Yossarian to be extremely cautious and even cowardly at times, but it seems to work out as he is one of extremely few who survive. The officers fear looking inferior to other officers, while the soldiers fear death and not much else.
The soldiers are made to feel small and inferior in comparison to the officers, and to feel as though they have no options other than the ones that are fed to them. The officers exercise their superiority by toying with the men in the form of forcing them to sign oaths of loyalty, forcing them to pray before missions, changing their mission quotas whenever they feel like it and for any reason they can think of, and by creating a catch-22 for any scenario that comes up. The men feel that because of their inferiority they cannot speak up and are brainwashed into believing that someday they may actually be discharged, though that will never happen.
By the end of this novel, even the Chaplain has lost his religious faith. According to Yossarian there is no right and just God because if there was he would not have created all of the terrible things that cause suffering, especially war. Being in the war environment shows men all of the truly horrific things in the world and they witness devastation first hand. In Yossarian’s view a God who is supposed to be the all-mighty would not have, in good conscience, created such chaos and unfairness. Because of the lack of faith in God the men must decide what is relevant to them as individuals and fight to protect their own morals and values.
The hypocrisy here lies wholly in the officers’ ability to create laws and loop holes that will suck the soldiers in and spin them around and around never to be let out. This is what is known as the catch-22 which in itself is hypocritical. Any law can be folded in upon itself to make anyone guilty of any crime with no way to argue against it. The catch-22 was created to protect the officers from being implicated in their wrongdoing and to put the brunt of blame on the soldiers.
The Meaning of Words
Many words are seen as unimportant to the soldiers in this novel as words mean nothing to them at this point. They are constantly given empty promises of being discharged and so words are lies to them. Yossarian can think of nothing to say most of the time and in the beginning of the novel he censors letters by removing random words to make the remaining words mean something else entirely. The only words that have meaning to the soldiers are the words of catch-22 because it is the absolute law, though ironically catch-22 actually means nothing at all.
In “Catch-22” death is inevitable for the soldiers. Though they are promised to be discharged after flying a certain number of missions, the number is constantly increasing, making it obvious that they will never actually get out. The idea is that the soldiers will be placed into missions until they die fighting. Yossarian is the only one who seems to understand that death is certain for them and that is why he fears it and others do not. The others have hope for the future but Yossarian knows that there is no future if they stay and fight. In the end Yossarian and Orr, the two to escape the war, are the only two to survive out of their group of friends.
Greed is the driving force behind this novel. The high ranking officers’ greed comes from a hunger for power and control. They all need to be better than the guy next to them and do something to catch the attention of the guy above them. Everyone wants to be a part of Milo’s syndicate as well, hungry for the money to go along with the power, not realizing that Milo has no intentions of sharing his money with anyone. Milo is so greedy that he cannot even help the other men who need him if he sees a business opportunity looming near.
Sex is the main connection between men and women in this novel as they form no lasting, loving, relationships. To some of the men, like Nately and Yossarian, lust equals love–if even for a short period of time. The women in the novel are mainly prostitutes, and get whatever they want by promising men sex, as happened when Yossarian’s tent-mates were holding Nately’s whore back from attacking him. In a world where the men find themselves constantly alone, and without female companionship, sex is love to them because it is the only time they actually get to feel anything at all.
John Yossarian is a bombardier for the Air Force and is currently in the military hospital faking a liver condition, so he does not have to risk his life fighting. While in the hospital, it is Yossarian’s job to censor incoming mail, and he has fun with it by signing different names or turning a regular letter into a love letter.
The other two men in Yossarian’s ward are Captain named Dunbar and a bigoted Texan who nobody likes. When a man wrapped all in gauze dies Yossarian and Dunbar accuse the Texan of killing him because he is black, which the Texan denies and from then on no one wants to be near him.
While Yossarian is in the hospital a colonel is admitted though no one can figure out what is wrong with him, the mess hall catches on fire, and a chaplain who says nothing more than “that’s good” in response to everything visits Dunbar and Yossarian.
Yossarian seems to be the only person who realizes that a war is happening. Everyone else understands that they are trying to kill the enemy, but, for some reason, they do not link this to the idea of war.
Yossarian introduces the reader to Clevinger, who thinks Yossarian is crazy for all his war-talk; Orr, who is Yossarian’s tent-mate; Havermeyer, who is in a neighboring tent and likes to shoot mice; McWatt, who lives with Nately and everyone thinks is crazy because he likes to buzz his plane close to the ground and scare people; and Appleby, who is likeable by everyone except Yossarian who does not seem to like anyone.
Yossarian is discharged from the hospital, but much to his chagrin is denied a discharge from the war by Doc Daneeka, who reminds him that he has only flown 44 missions, and must fly 50 missions before he can be released.
When Yossarian heads to his tent after being released he sees his odd tent-mate, Orr. Orr tells strange stories about his past, like how he used to stuff crab apples in his cheeks to make them bigger and how he laughed until he passed out when a prostitute beat him in the head with her shoe, and tries to get Yossarian to ask questions about his experiences though he does not.
Yossarian tells about the power-struggle between the colonels and generals in the war, which causes them to subject their men to more dangerous missions and raise the number of missions that must be completed before discharge. This frightens the many men who have flow 50 missions and are waiting for their walking papers. Some of the men, like Hungry Joe, begin to lose their minds a little while waiting around to be discharged.
Yossarian tries to help Hungry Joe by asking the Doc to discharge him though the Doc refuses to help even though Yossarian helps him by lying about the flight hours he has logged. Yossarian attends an information session held by Clevinger to find out why everyone wants to kill him, but no one is allowed to ask questions because the colonels do not wish for the soldiers to have that freedom.
Colonel Korn makes a rule that the only people who can ask questions are those who never ask questions – yes, this is a catch-22. General Dreedle makes his men shoot skeet for fun, mandatory fun. Yossarian does not enjoy it nor does he enjoy gambling which sparks a controversy involving some prank phone calls and T.S. Eliot that send the superiors all into a tizzy.
Dunbar tells Clevinger that he likes to shoot skeet because he likes time to move slowly as slow moving time makes life seem longer. Clevinger notes that Dunbar’s logic includes having a long life of miserable circumstances and Dunbar replies “What else is there?”
Doc Daneeka tells Yossarian about his awful life and the medical practice he had before he was drafted, where he was visited by a couple who could not get pregnant only to learn that though they thought they were having sex they were not because the wife was a virgin.
Yossarian introduces Chief White Halfoat who is an intelligence officer though he cannot even read, is obsessed with digging for oil and is convinced he will die of pneumonia. Doc tells Yossarian that a person has to be crazy to get discharged, but must ask to get discharged, and anyone who would ask is obviously not crazy, because they know what is best for them; Catch-22.
Yossarian remembers a mission when the pilot, Dobbs, suddenly went crazy and lost control of the plane and a man named Snowden lies in the back of the plane dying from the impact of the nose dive.
Hungry Joe suffers from nightmares but only in between missions. He denies having the nightmares, but everyone hears him struggling in his sleep. Colonel Cathcart volunteers his soldiers for the most dangerous missions and one of them was to Ferrara where Yossarian lost one of his men, Kraft, which he still feels terribly guilty about.
The men often get into fights with one another over nothing when they are drunk, as is displayed in this chapter. When Major Deluth is killed on a mission, Major Major is given his position as squadron leader, and Yossarian is excited because being led by Wintergreen he thinks he only has to complete forty missions to be sent home, which means he is eligible.
Wintergreen tells him that he must complete whatever his original officer wants (catch-22), and if that was not bad enough, Cathcart has just raised the quota to fifty-five missions.
Milo is the food supplier and he does business on the side sending food to other countries for a profit. When Milo is instructed by Doc Daneeka to give Yossarian plenty of fruit because he has a liver condition, he is worried that giving away all that fruit will affect his profits, especially when he learns that Yossarian does not even have a liver problem and just gives all the fruit away.
Milo likes Yossarian and tells him everything except where he keeps his money. Milo’s mission is to make delicious food, and he is upset when someone puts soap in the potatoes to prove that the men have no sense of taste, but it proves true. Milo will not steal goods from the government, but he will work out trades that will get him those goods anyway and he has no problem stealing from foreign traders. Someday Milo dreams of opening a mart where he can sell things.
Clevinger is part of the action board and constantly butts heads with Scheisskopf who is obsessed with entering parades to win meaningless prizes every weekend. Scheisskopf is so obsessed that he does not notice that his wife is having relationships with any man who will pay attention to her behind his back, including Yossarian.
Yossarian does not actually have feelings for her but for her friend Doris who does not return his feelings. Clevinger gets in trouble when his suggestion for Scheisskopf proves to be successful in helping him win parades and in turn Scheisskopf accuses him of launching a conspiracy against the officers.
Clevinger is convicted and sentenced to fifty-seven tours, which does not destroy his morale quite as much as the mean and hateful look he got from the men on the board, who were supposed to be his brothers in war.
Major Major has lived his entire life as an outcast, mostly for his unfortunate name, Major Major Major, which his father thought it would be funny to name him, but it makes his adolescence extremely difficult. No one likes him, and when he joins the Air Force, he is quickly moved up in ranks because no one wants to deal with him, which makes other people dislike him.
Major Major had just started to make some friends who would let him play basketball with them, when he got word that he was being promoted to lead the squadron after Major Deluth dies; he is outcast by his basketball buddies as well because of his upward ranking. He eats alone in the mess hall and amuses himself by wearing a disguise and signing all papers “Washington Irving” which causes a few compelling arguments.
Eventually he makes it so no one else has the authority to see him, though Yossarian manages to and demands he be sent home, though Major Major tells him he can do nothing to help him.
One day Clevinger goes missing when he is supposedly on a milk run. Though everyone thinks that he has died Yossarian believes he has gone AWOL, something that Wintergreen has been known to do on a regular basis.
The punishment for going AWOL is to dig holes, though eventually it will lead to jail time. One day while digging holes Wintergreen hits a water pipe and floods the barracks, though everyone thinks he has struck oil and frenzy ensues. Sargent Tower is increasingly uncomfortable at the mention of the dead man who resides in Yossarian’s tent.
The man was named Mudd, and because he never checked in at the base he was not able to check out either, so his body just stays there. After Mudd dies the men are told they will go on a particularly dangerous mission which none of them are okay with and so they try to fake illness, but the hospital closes so they cannot. Yossarian is more fearful than ever that he is going to die.
Captain Black is enthralled by the fear the men are feeling anticipating the dangerous mission in Bologna, and he remembers the days of the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade (GLOC). The GLOC came into existence when Captain Black was upset that he did not get the promotion to squadron leader over Major Major.
As a part of the GLOC the men were forced to sign loyalty contracts before they did anything, including eat, and as other officers jumped on the bandwagon Captain Black made up new things for the men to do to ensure that he always stayed one step ahead of everyone else, like singing the national anthem or reciting the pledge of allegiance before they could eat. Major Major was the only person not allowed to participate, making him seem disloyal. The GLOC lasted until the feared Major —– de Coverly barked an order for food one day without signing an oath.
The men are happy with any circumstance that delays the mission to Bologna, including the horrendous weather. One day while looking at the map of the mission they decide that if the bomb line on the map is above Bologna they will not have to go because the officers will think Bologna has already been defeated, so Yossarian moves it in the middle of the night despite the fact that some people think he is being ridiculous.
The next morning, the mission is cancelled, and General Peckem receives a medal though he did nothing to deserve it. Flashing back to before the Bologna mission Yossarian remembers everyone telling him to prepare for death, which does not sit well with Yossarian who tries to tell the other men that the real enemy is anyone who put the soldiers’ lives in jeopardy, like Colonel Cathcart, though he is the only one who seems to think that way. Yossarian tells the other men to steal a car and go AWOL, which they try but the drunk Halfoat is driving and crashes it.
Major de Coverly is a truly mysterious man whose job essentially consists of playing horseshoes and renting rooms in cities that have been taken over for the men to take their leave in. Despite the fact that he seems a powerful and intelligent man, Major de Coverly was easily fooled into thinking that Bologna had already been taken over when Yossarian moved the bomb line.
Colonel Cathcart was upset with Yossarian’s performance on a previous mission to Ferrera, the one that killed Kraft. Yossarian had to fly over a target two times before he hit it, which Cathcart found to be unacceptable, and Kraft was killed by shrapnel on the second go around. To stave off criticism Yossarian was awarded a medal for his efforts, rather than reprimanded.
The soldiers end up having to go on the mission to Bologna and are all terrified that they are going to die. Yossarian pretends that his radio is broken and uses this as an excuse for Kid Sampson, his pilot, to turn around.
Upon landing the feeling back at the base is one of defeat and sadness for the others who are on the mission and Yossarian goes off by himself after ignoring questions about why he turned around. He has some hallucinations that the mushrooms in the woods are severed limbs and falls asleep. The next day he wakes to find that the planes are flying in from Bologna perfectly safe. The mission was a success and free of the danger that had been anticipated.
Captain Prichard and Captain Wren are upset with Yossarian and his men for bailing on the Bologna mission and make them go back out because the job was not completed the first time. During the mission, Yossarian loses his calm with Aarfy who is constantly joking around and distracting him while
Yossarian is trying to yell instructions to McWatt, the pilot, to keep them from being hit. The plane is hit once, but the men manage to land safely, though many of the planes that had gone up with them were not as lucky. Yossarian looks around to make sure that Orr is okay and sees that his plane has landed slightly damaged but safe, much to his relief. After a quick debriefing, Yossarian wastes no time packing his bags for a leave in Rome.
When in Rome Yossarian meets a beautiful woman named Luciana whom he convinces to sleep with him, though she will not do so until the next morning. When Luciana arrives at his hotel room the next morning, she still refuses to sleep with him until she cleans his room, which she does.
Yossarian falls in love with Luciana, and asks her to marry him, but she refuses because she says that Yossarian is obviously crazy as only a crazy man would marry a woman who is not a virgin. When Yossarian and Luciana part ways she gives him her number and tells him she expects him to rip it up as soon as he walks away, happy with himself for getting such an attractive woman to sleep with him.
Yossarian tells her he will not but, lo and behold that is exactly what he does though he immediately regrets it. He hears that Cathcart has raised the number of missions required to forty and decides he must enter the hospital right away.
Yossarian is in the hospital and so is Dunbar. He is enjoying being in an atmosphere that is not violent, though it is filled with people who are dying. The men who are in the hospital discuss death with one another and the mysterious decision of who lives and who dies that seems to have no rhyme or reason.
Yossarian has a hard time paying attention to the conversation because his mind, as always, is trying to keep track of all of the possible forces that could kill him in this environment. Yossarian and Hungry Joe make a list of contagious diseases that they take turns pretending to have with the hopes that Doc will deem it necessary to keep them off duty, though the Doc does not fall for their tricks. Doc tells Yossarian that after he has flown his mission quota he will help him be discharged.
Yossarian remembers the first time he ever visited the military hospital, complaining of abdominal pain. He soon decided to take on the symptoms of another man in the hospital who was claiming to have double vision. He spent Thanksgiving in the hospital and vowed to spend every coming Thanksgiving there as well though he broke that vow on the next one which he spent sleeping with Scheisskopf’s wife.
Once Yossarian’s fake double vision and stomach pains were gone, he was asked to pretend to be a dying soldier whose family was coming to visit because they were unaware that he had actually died that morning. Yossarian was bandaged heavily and visited with the family. The father told Yossarian to make sure God knows that it is a crime for such young men to die.
Colonel Cathcart, though seemingly cocky, is terribly insecure and paranoid. He cares deeply what the public thinks of him and allows Colonel Korn to make all of his decisions for him. Deep down Cathcart resents Korn for being a higher rank than him, and also for having attending a state college. As he wants nothing more than to become a General, he tries to enforce prayer sessions before the men leave on missions hoping that it will get him into the Saturday Evening Post. When Cathcart meets with the Chaplain to discuss the required prayer the Chaplain does not think it is a brilliant idea because of the atheists and the fact that Cathcart wants the men to say prayers that are inferior to those of the officers. Cathcart abandons the plan and gets defensive when the Chaplain mentions how upset the men are that he has raised the mission quota to sixty.
The Chaplain is not well liked by most of the officers, especially Colonel Korn who forces the Chaplain to live off in the woods and dine with different men in a different place each night. He is also disliked by Corporal Whitcomb who is an atheist and is made to live with the Chaplain. He thinks that if he can get rid of the Chaplain, then he will be able to move back to live amongst the other men, so he does his best to paint the Chaplain in a negative light.
Whitcomb accuses the Chaplain of being the person responsible for signing letters “Washington Irving”, for getting into Major Major’s personal mail, and for stealing tomatoes. The Chaplain falls into a depression at the accusations.
Colonel Cathcart does not know what to do about Yossarian whom he sees as a mischievous distraction to the other men. Yossarian is extremely dramatic, refusing to wear clothes to the medal ceremony after Snowden died because Snowden had bled on his uniform and moaning during mission briefings out of fear that he will no longer sleep with beautiful women if he dies.
Cathcart believes that if he can stop Yossarian’s antics than General Dreedle will be impressed, but Dreedle does not care in the least what Yossarian is doing as long as he is alive. General Dreedle is totally unimpressed by the Colonel’s trying to undercut one another in seeking his approval and praise, especially Colonel Korn.
Snowden’s death resulted from a mission in which Dobbs, one of the pilots, went insane. He stole the controls from another pilot and rambles about wanting to kill Cathcart before he raises the mission quota again. Snowden dies while complaining to Yossarian that he is cold, and it is upon Snowden’s death that Yossarian becomes so cowardly.
Yossarian and Orr went with Milo on one of his black market food missions and learned the true extent of Milo’s success. Because Milo’s syndicate effects and enriches everyone it touches he holds political office in some countries and in others he is seen as a God. Yossarian and Orr are amazed by Milo’s fame though they do not get to experience the fruits of his labors as they are forced to sleep on the plane while Milo is out living it up.
One night when the men are in Rome Nately finds the prostitute he had lost a while back. He wants Aarfy and Yossarian to pay her friends thirty dollars each, but Aarfy refuses to pay for sex; instead Hungry Joe comes alone. They end up in a place that is full of naked woman, and Joe is tempted to go get his camera though he does not.
Nately gets into it with an old man who reminds him of his father about nationalism. The old man does not think that Americans will last long in the world and feels that Italy is in a better position in the war than America is. Nately misses the opportunity to sleep with his whore because he is arguing with the old man but gets his chance again the next morning though they are interrupted by her sister.
Milo primarily controls the entire black market and ends up being the cause of most of the bombings. He uses government planes with his logo on them – M&M Enterprises and contracts bombings between the Americans and Germans making him responsible for quite a few deaths including Mudd, the dead man in Yossarian’s tent. One day there is bombing on Milo’s own camp and several men are injured or killed causing them utter disdain toward Milo.
Milo quickly reminds the men how much money they are making from being a part of the syndicate and they all forgive him. He presents Yossarian with chocolate covered cotton on the day of Snowden’s funeral, when Yossarian is sitting naked in the tree, and Yossarian tells him to try to sell it to the government, which Milo thinks is a terrific idea.
The Chaplain is growing increasingly depressed at the fact that no one seems to like him or want him around. He believes he is seeing visions from God, such as a naked man in a tree which was Yossarian though the Chaplain does not seem aware of that fact. He worries that his family is suffering in his absence and tries to help the soldiers by getting Major Major to lower the number of missions they need to participate in, but Major Major will not allow the Chaplain, or anyone else, in to see him.
The Chaplain tries to socialize with the other men, but Colonel Cathcart always has him removed from social settings much to the Chaplain’s dismay. He feels as though he is helpless and begins to doubt everything about his life, including God.
Nately eventually falls in love with his whore who does not return his feelings and is actually quite sick of him to the point that she will no longer accept his money. She spends the night mostly naked sitting in a room full of men who are playing cards and is called a slut by Aarfy, a sentiment that seriously offends Nately.
Aarfy is the pilot flying on the mission when Yossarian finally is injured and taken to the hospital. He and Dunbar decide that they are going to trade places with two men who rank lower than them, but they are quickly found out by the nurses Duckett and Cramer and made to return to their own beds.
Nurse Duckett is sexually assaulted by Yossarian, who puts his hand up her skirt, and Dunbar, who grabs her breast until she has to be rescued. Yossarian tells the Doctor who rescues her that he is insane, and that is why he acted the way he did. Yossarian is sent to see Major Sanderson, the psychiatrist, who agrees that Yossarian is crazy and should be discharged, but there is a mix-up and the man that Yossarian had been pretending to be before gets sent home instead. Yossarian is furious, and his friends try to console him, Dobbs even offers to kill Cathcart again. Yossarian goes to see Doc, but Doc refuses to send him home because he thinks that if all the crazy people were discharged there would be no one left to fight.
Yossarian is ready for Dobbs to kill Colonel Cathcart and tells him so, but Dobbs is no longer interested because he has completed his missions, and is waiting to be discharged, refusing to believe that the number may be raised again. Yossarian learns that Orr crashed his plane into the ocean while he was in the hospital and managed to survive, now offering to show Yossarian how to survive a crash landing, and also to explain why a naked woman was hitting him with a shoe in Rome, but Yossarian declines. On Orr’s next mission, he crashes his plane into the ocean yet again, but he disappears this time, presumably drowned.
Scheisskopf has become a colonel and has joined with General Peckem, much to the soldiers’ dismay, though Peckem only promoted him in hopes of getting a leg up on his competition, General Dreedle. Scheisskopf is not all that thrilled about his new position because he could not bring his wife with him, and also he would not be able to have parades every day as he did before.
Cathcart’s squadron is set to go on a mission that involves bombing an undefended village for the sole purpose of taking superb photos to impress General Peckem with. When Cathcart sees that Scheisskopf is there as well he is upset and feels uncomfortable but manages to give a briefing anyway, pleased with how well he operated under pressure.
Yossarian goes on a mission with McWatt and totally loses his mind, fearful that he will die and crazy over flashbacks of Snowden. McWatt seems concerned about Yossarian after the mission is over though Yossarian feared McWatt would be mad at him. Yossarian is having a sexual relationship with Nurse Duckett, and they like to have sex on the beach, but when Yossarian is near water he thinks of the men he knows who have died underwater like Orr and Clevinger.
One day when McWatt is buzzing the beach (flying low) he accidentally gets too close and cuts Kid Sampson in half with his propeller. He immediately flies higher and crashes his plane into a mountain, killing himself. Cathcart is extremely upset, but this turn of events and raises the mission quota to sixty-five.
Cathcart learns that Doc was on the plane with McWatt and has been killed as well and raises the quota once again, this time to seventy missions. Doc was not actually on the plane but because Yossarian had been altering the flight logs to make it look as though Doc was logging his hours the paperwork showed that Doc was on the flight.
Doc’s wife gets a letter stating he is dead, which saddens her, but she realizes she will be getting a sizeable income from his insurance for the rest of her life, and she starts flirting with men and dies her hair.
The men are mad with Doc’s forgeries because their mission quota has increased and he is no longer allowed to practice medicine, which substantially upsets him. He writes a letter to his wife to ask her to tell the authorities he is alive but happy with the money she will be receiving she moves herself and the children out of state and does not give Doc a forwarding address.
As the days go by, and the weather starts to get colder Orr still never returns and Kid Sampson’s legs are still on the beach because no one will retrieve them. Yossarian’s tent is overrun with new young guys, who have never been to battle.
The new guys called Yossarian “Yo-yo” and he develops an overwhelming hatred for them almost to the point of homicidal. The guys remove Mudd’s belongings and burn Orr’s wood which prompts Yossarian to ask Halfoat to move in and scare them but he says he is going to move into the hospital where he will finally die of pneumonia. Yossarian decides that rather than kill them, he will go to Rome with Hungry Joe on leave.
In Rome Yossarian misses Nurse Duckett and goes looking for Luciana, sure that he will not find her. Nately sets out to find his whore who is being held in a hotel room by some men who refuse to let her go, hoping to rescue her.
When Nately does find her, she is relieved and falls in love with him. Nately dreams of moving his whore and her sister to America with him and having his military brothers all live near him and work for his father.
The whore is upset when she learns Nately no longer wants her to prostitute herself, and also wishes her not to speak to the old man he got into the argument with the last time he saw her. Despite her anger, she is sad when Nately leaves and is quite upset with Yossarian after he breaks Nately’s nose with his fist.
On Thanksgiving Milo gives all of the men whiskey and they get a little rowdy. They panic when they hear the sound of machine guns though they quickly realize that it is a prank but Yossarian is still infuriated. He makes to go after them with his own gun but Nately tries to stop him which results in Yossarian breaking his nose.
In the hospital wing, Yossarian feels terrible for Nately’s nose, and they see the Chaplain who has faked an illness to be there. When Dunbar begins to scream hysterically the other men follow suit and Yossarian seems confused. Nurse Duckett tells Yossarian that the doctors plan to make Dunbar “disappear” and when Yossarian goes to tell him, he finds that Dunbar is missing.
Halfoat finally dies of pneumonia, just as he expected he would, and Nately finishes his mission quota though he does not want to go home because he cannot bring his whore with him. Yossarian wants Milo to help him convince Nately not to go on anymore missions, and Milo immediately goes and asks that he, himself, be put on more dangerous missions because he feels he has not done his duty while running his operation.
Cathcart volunteers to run the syndicate while Milo is on missions but when he finds out how much work is involved he changes his mind and tells Milo that other men can do Milo’s missions and Milo will be rewarded for them with medals of Honor. The mission quota is increased to eighty and the men are sent on a particularly dangerous mission which ends up killing twelve of the men, Dobbs and Nately included.
The Chaplain is arrested for various crimes, which are unspecified at the time, much to his shock. He is accused of forgery, of being Washington Irving, and of stealing plum tomatoes. A document that Yossarian forged the Chaplain’s name on some time ago is the only evidence that they have against him, and they sound ridiculous trying to justify their accusations.
The Chaplain is set free until they figure out how to punish him and he goes right to Colonel Korn to complain about the number of missions the men have to complete. Korn informs the Chaplain that all of the higher-ups agree with the idea of increasing the quota to whatever they want, and anyone who disagrees, such as Dr. Stubbs have been sent away.
Peckem moves into his new office which is Dreedle’s old office and learns that Scheisskopf has been promoted to general, making him Peckem’s new commanding officer which makes Peckem extremely aggravated. Peckem refuses to take any phone calls from Scheisskopf and cannot believe that such a dimwit could be in charge.
Apparently the leader of special services was being promoted to general, which would have been Peckem had he not already been promoted and instead went to his successor, Scheisskopf. Peckem is now stuck following Scheisskopf’s orders, as absurd as they may be, and he wants everyone to march.
Yossarian refuses to participate in any more missions and out of pity for the loss of Nately Cathcart and Korn decide to send him to Rome on leave. When in Rome Yossarian tells Nately’s whore about his death and she attacks him with a knife, as does her little sister, convinced that Yossarian is to blame for his death. She follows him everywhere he goes, including back to base, determined to seek revenge for Nately’s death, though it was not Yossarian’s fault.
The officers ask Yossarian to fly in nondangerous missions, but he refuses, knowing that someone else will be asked to fly in the more dangerous ones in his stead. He finds out that Nately’s whore, her sister, and the other ladies living in their building were flushed out by M.P.’s, and he is worried about them.
Yossarian and Milo head to Rome which is in a state of shambles and ruins beyond what he imagined. He learns from the old woman who lived in the whores’ apartment building that they were presented with a Catch-22, that the soldiers could do anything that the people could not stop them from doing, and the other Catch-22 was that they did not have to present the people with a written Catch-22.
Yossarian knows that Catch-22 does not exist, but it sticks around because people believe in it. Yossarian looks for Nately’s whore, and Milo gets distracted by a business opportunity. As he wanders he sees rapes, beatings, and corpses everywhere he looks, he even encounters Aarfy beating and raping a maid. M.P.’s burst in and apologize to Aarfy for interrupting him but arrest Yossarian who is doing nothing wrong for being in Rome without a pass.
Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn tell Yossarian that they want to send him home but because of Catch-22 they cannot. They decide that they would like to promote him to major so his only job would be to watch over them, but, in return, he would have to like them and approve of what they are doing. Yossarian does not want to betray his fellow soldiers, knowing that they will still have to fly an unspecified number of missions, but he thinks it is his only way out so he accepts. As he is leaving the office, he is stabbed by Nately’s whore who is dressed in disguise.
Yossarian is operated on in the hospital and when he awakens he see the Chaplain and Aarfy. He promises the Chaplain that he will not take Cathcart and Korn’s deal, though he had previously agreed to it. He realizes that his only friend who is still alive is Hungry Joe but the Chaplain tells him that Joe died in his sleep, apparently smothered by a cat.
Yossarian drifts in and out of dreams and remembers the day that Snowden died, telling Yossarian “I’m cold.” In an attempt to help Snowden, Yossarian opened his suit, but his entrails all spilled out and, in the entrails, Yossarian read, “The spirit gone, man is garbage”.
Yossarian tries to explain to General Danby about the offer Cathcart, and Korn gave him and why he cannot take it, as he must honor his friends who have died needlessly in war. He believes that he has no hope when the Chaplain tells him that Orr has washed up in Sweden, alive, and Yossarian knows that he does stand a chance. He gathers his clothes and leaves the hospital, headed toward Sweden to leave the war forever. As he is leaving Nately’s whore tries to stab him one more time, but he escapes her and runs off as fast as he can toward Sweden.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.