Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
CHAPTER 11: CAPTAIN BLACK
Captain Black, the squadron intelligence officer, is thrilled to hear about the siege of Bologna. He gets pleasure out of watching the anxious soldiers’ faces. Seeing everyone in the squadron afraid, the Captain is reminded of the days of his Loyalty Oath crusade.
Black holds a grudge against Major because Major had been appointed squadron commander instead of him. Infuriated, Black announces that Major is a communist. He forces all the men who enter his tent to sign Loyalty Oaths in order to prove their allegiance to their country. The men have to sign Loyalty Oaths to receive parachutes or map cases, or even to get food. Sometimes Black even forces them to sing "The Star-spangled Banner" in order to prove their patriotism. Black does not allow Major to sign loyalty. He asks Milo to starve Major by not bringing food to him, and tells Daneeka not to attend him. One day, Major de Coverley comes from Rome and puts an end to Black’s crusade.
Black’s Loyalty Oath crusade satirizes those officers who make a show of patriotism. Black is not a true patriot. He is a selfish individual who nurses high ambitions. After losing out on the job of squadron commander, he starts the Loyalty Oath merely to direct attention toward himself. He does not care that he is keeping the men from their duty. He derives power and pleasure from seeing his men suffer from worry as they prepare to leave for Bologna. It is Major de Coverley who puts an end to Black’s nonsense. This chapter is a satire on President Truman’s loyalty- security program of 1947 which required public employees to take loyalty oaths in order to prove that they were not communists.