Study Guide

Catch-22 Chapter 20

By Joseph Heller

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Chapter 20

  • The chaplain is hard on himself for not fighting Cathcart harder about the sixty missions requirement.
  • He is frightened when, by chance, he passes Colonel Korn. They do not like each other. Colonel Korn asks rather aggressively where the chaplain got the plum tomato. When he finds out, he relaxes.
  • Korn knows about Cathcart's talk with the chaplain and tells him he is happy it didn't work out.
  • We learn that the chaplain lives far from the base, alone in the woods, because Colonel Korn advised it. Korn also put him on a complicated dining schedule, where he dines with different men at different facilities every night of the week. (Korn isn't a good guy, by the way.)
  • The chaplain likes living a solitary life near the green growing things, but he misses his wife and children.
  • Corporal Whitcomb, an atheist, lives with the chaplain and dislikes him. He thinks the chaplain is weak.
  • Whitcomb dreams of sparking a spiritual revival and plans to depose the chaplain at the earliest opportunity possible. After that, he can move back into the Group Headquarters building at the base, where all the action is. Not to mention the plum tomatoes.
  • Corporal Whitcomb always manages to make the chaplain feel bad, even when he's delivering news that Yossarian dropped by to see the chaplain while he was out.
  • The chaplain feels guilty because he thinks he deserves Whitcomb's disdain for some past crime. He just can't remember what he did to offend Whitcomb.
  • The chaplain alludes to seeing a strange sight at Snowden's funeral – a naked man in a tree – and wonders if it actually happened.
  • His thoughts are interrupted by Corporal Whitcomb, who has been conspiring with a C.I.D. man. Whitcomb told the C.I.D. man that the chaplain was the one signing the letters with "Washington Irving." He also accuses the chaplain of intercepting Major Major's secret correspondence and stealing the plum tomato.
  • He confesses all this to the chaplain. But he twists it all to make it seem like he's doing the Chaplain a favor.
  • The chaplain is depressed.

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