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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 8: LIEUTENANT SCHEISSKOPF

Summary

When Clevinger and Yossarian were cadets in Santa Ana, Lieutenant Scheisskopf was their commanding officer. Lieutenant Scheisskopf suffers from chronic sinus trouble and has poor eyesight. Hence, he is never sent overseas in war time.

While the lieutenant is busy planning parades, his wife sleeps with every cadet in the squadron. Yossarian has affairs with both Mrs. Scheisskopf and the lieutenantís mistress, Dori Duz.

Scheisskopf comes up with a master plan for his parades. He holds practices in the dead of night to keep this plan a secret. The men continually bump into each other in the dark at these practices. Scheisskopf wishes to win the parade which is held in every Sunday. His master plan, that the men should not swing their hands while marching, is a great success. He wins the parade and is elevated to the rank of First Lieutenant. He is hailed as a military genius.


Clevinger appears before an Action Board to answer the charges that Scheisskopf has placed against him. The Action Board hurls unanswerable questions at Clevinger, and gets angry when he cannot answer them. The bloated colonel is particularly harsh and uncompromising. He sentences Clevinger to fifty-seven punishment tours. Clevinger comes to the conclusion that the members of the Action Board hate him even more than the Nazis.

Notes

This chapter is Hellerís portrait of Scheisskopf, through which Heller satirizes the working of the Air Force. The lieutenantís ability to win parades is useless. His parades cannot win wars, and therefore his victories are hollow and empty. Not only are his ideas absurd (he forces his men to march without swinging their hands), the execution of his ideas is also without reason (he makes the men practice in the dark of night). It is evident that the thinking of the Air Force higher-ups is also warped, for they hail the Lieutenant as a military genius and promote him.

Yossarianís love for women is purely sexual. Except for Natelyís love of the Italian, the "love" described in the novel is always physical. To Yossarian, Dori Duz is "a marvelous piece of ass." Also Mrs. Scheisskopf is neglected by her husband who is busy planning parades.

Clevinger is charged with committing an offence. Although there is no proof that he is guilty, the Action Board demands that Clevinger prove his innocence. Clevinger finds himself in a Catch-22 situation. He is punished for a misdemeanor he did not commit.

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