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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 20: CORPORAL WHITCOMB

Summary

The chaplain lives in a clearing in the woods along with his assistant, Corporal Whitcomb. Whitcomb is an atheist and is openly rude and contemptuous to the chaplain. Colonel Korn had decided that the chaplain would live in the woods, not only because the chaplain would be in closer communication with the men, but also because it kept the chaplain far away from the headquarters.

The chaplain relishes the privacy and isolation of the woods. He is an introvert who does not mix freely and misses his wife and children back home. Whitcomb detests the seclusion of the woods. He tells the chaplain that he has been met by a C.I.D man who is conducting an investigation. According to the corporal, the C.I.D man suspects that the chaplain is the one responsible for signing Washington Irvingís name to letters, and also for intercepting Majorís correspondence. Whitcomb tells the unhappy chaplain to be on his guard.


Notes

After having had to face the over-bearing Cathcart, the chaplain now has to face the shocking news that he is a prime suspect in the "Washington Irving" case. Whitcomb, his assistant, is unsympathetic.

We are presented with a study of the chaplain as a recluse, a soft and sensitive person living in a brutal, hard world. He is pushed around by the officers. Colonel Korn treats him with disdain.

The second C.I.D man makes another appearance. There is also a reference to a naked man (Yossarian) in a tree at Snowdenís funeral. The chaplain comes across as something of an idealist trying to set wrongs right, but realizing that there is little he can do.

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