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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 29: PECKEM

Summary

Scheisskopf, Yossarianís commanding officer in his cadet days, is in Rome. Scheisskopf now discontentedly reports for duty at General Peckemís office.

General Peckem is very fastidious and lays great stress on matters of taste and style. He is a pompous officers who likes to bully his subordinates. He thinks of himself as aesthetic and intellectual.

Scheisskopf is upset because he is not allowed to conduct parades overseas. Peckem, however, allows him to announce every week that the parades have been postponed. This gives Scheisskopf some relief. If he cannot hold parades, he can at least postpone them.

Peckem is very fond of a neat, compact bomb pattern. He prefers that bombs explode close together so as to make a neat aerial photograph. He does not care whether the bombs hit the target so long as they fall in a pattern.


Meanwhile, in Pianosa, the men are being briefed about a mission to a tiny mountain village in Italy. The American planes have to bomb the village in order to create a road block so that the Germans cannot pass through. It means endangering the lives of the Italian villagers and destroying their homes. No leaflets have been dropped to warn the Italian villages. Dunbar protests the bombing. His protests are quickly stifled as Colonel Korn asks whether the men would prefer going to Bologna instead.

Notes

This chapter deals with the sense of rivalry that grows between Peckemís command in Rome and Dreedleís command in Pianosa. Hardly any important work is carried out in General Peckemísí office. The general is only concerned about keeping ahead of his rival in Pianosa.

The bombing of the Italian village is inhumane. Yet the officers want to do it because, as far as they are concerned, the end justifies the means.

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