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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 25: THE CHAPLAIN

Summary

The chaplain is plagued by doubts about the existence of God. The chaplain believes he has either had a divine vision or a hallucination: a naked man in the tree at Snowden’s funeral.

The chaplain is a lonely man who feels out of place in the Army. He is often tormented by morbid fantasies involving his wife and three children. He will dream that all four have been killed and their house destroyed. He wants to write urgent love letters to his wife telling her how much he loves her, but he can only manage to pen short, formal letters.

The chaplain tries his best to speak to Major about the raising of the number of missions, but the major is never in his office. On the way back to his dwelling in the woods, the chaplain meets an emaciated wretch who turns out to be Captain Flume. Flume has been hiding in the forest because he is afraid that Halfoat will slit his throat.


Cathcart calls the chaplain to his office in order to speak to him about the letters of condolence to be sent to the families of casualties. Cathcart has a standard format for each letter, yet he wants the letters to be full of personal details. Cathcart hopes his ideas for the letters will get him a mention in The Saturday Evening Post. He even volunteers his men for the next mission to Avignon so that there will be more casualties and more letters to send.

Notes

Following the chapter on the corrupt Milo, this chapter deals with the sensitive and conscientious chaplain. The chaplain is plagued by spiritual doubt and is waiting for some sort of sign from God. He is not sure whether the naked man in the tree is a divine sign or an hallucination. The chaplain has a feeling of déjà vu. The chaplain constantly feels that he must help Yossarian in his quest for survival, but the chaplain does not really understand why he must do this.

The chaplain feels deceitful presiding at funerals, for he knows that as a priest he is forced to appear serious about death and to pretend to have some kind of intelligence of the after life. His meeting with Captain Flume in the woods appears to have some sort of religious significance.

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