Catch-22 Summary and Analysis of Chapters 8-14

Chapter 8: Lieutenant Scheisskopf

Clevinger, a brilliant Harvard graduate who has intelligence but not brains, cannot understand how Milo can run his syndicate profitably. He sides with both left wingers and right wingers and thus is hated by both sides. He talks too much about Aristotle and is a dope with women. He fails to note the dangers of correcting Lieutenant Scheisskopf despite Yossarian’s warnings.

Lieutenant Scheisskopf is an R.O.T.C. graduate with poor eyesight. His wife and her friend Doris Duz make themselves as available to the men as much as possible. Yossarian enjoys sleeping with Scheisskopf's wife. Meanwhile, Scheisskopf is too obsessed with trying to win the weekly parade to pay much attention to his wife's amorous advances. In his spare time, he also recruits cadets to give false testimony against the brilliant Clevinger. Despite the huge amounts of testimony against him, Clevinger still has not been charged with anything.

Strangely, Clevinger also takes the parades as seriously as Scheisskopf does, though the other troops hate the parades. The men groan and collapse in the intense heat as a bloated colonel judges them. Pennants are given as prizes, but Yossarian sees these cumbersome objects as useless. Despite his efforts, Scheisskopf’s squadron is ranked last three weeks in a row. Scheisskopf then listens to Clevinger's advice and allows the cadets to elect their own commanding officers, and the squadron wins the yellow pennant. After he discovers that the men should not swing their arms more than three inches from their bodies, they win the red pennant twice in a row. This historical event puts an end to the parades.

Meanwhile, Clevinger is being grilled by the board for his nonexistent crimes, and Yossarian's name comes up. The inquiry itself is quite pointless. The colonel continuously accuses Clevinger of various crimes, only for Clevinger to deny that he committed them. When Clevinger asks about justice, the colonel sneers and sentences him to walk fifty-seven punishment walks. The other officials presiding in the trial are punished as well, and more severely than Clevinger.

Chapter 9: Major Major Major Major

Major Major had been born too early. His mother was very ill on her deathbed during his birth, and his father lied to her, saying he named the boy Caleb. Essentially, Major Major had been born into mediocrity, suffers in mediocrity, and then had mediocrity thrust upon him. He also has a strong resemblance to Henry Fonda.

His father, on the other hand, is a liar who hides Major Major's real name until Major Major enrolls in kindergarten. His mother dies as a consequence, and Major becomes a shy, awkward, submissive boy. Major performs well in school but is viewed with suspicion as a Communist and homosexual. The FBI sends five men and a Scotch terrier to spy on him and then place him in the army, where he is promoted to Major.

When he reports barefooted to Lieutenant Scheisskopf, he is sent to the hospital until his shoes and uniform arrive. He goes to Pianosa, where he is treated equally and rapturously plays basketball with the other men. Then, after Major Duluth's death, Colonel Cathcart makes him the squadron commander. Immediately, everyone begins to adulate and defer to him. When Major Major asks why he is treated so specially, Milo admits it is because people think he is Henry Fonda.

The bored Major is clueless about his new job and signs his name as Washington Irving on his documents. When he gets bored, he switches the names and signs them “Irving Washington.” This puts an end to the useless paper flow to his desk. Two C.I.D. men are sent to investigate, and Major sets each one on the other's trail. The second C.I.D. man suspects that somehow the chaplain, A. T. Tappman, is involved.

To avoid suspicion, Major switches his pseudonym to John Milton and wears dark glasses and a false mustache. He orders Sergeant Towser not to let anyone to see him in his office and tells Milo that he will eat all his meals in the trailer and not the mess hall. Despite these attempts to cut himself off, Yossarian manages to gain access to him by bringing down Major in a flying tackle. Eventually, Major gives in and Yossarian tells him that he will not fly any more missions. The befuddled Major does not know what to tell Yossarian and apologizes but insists he must follow Colonel Cathcart's orders.

Chapter 10: Wintergreen

Without warning, Clevinger does not return from the weekly milk run and is presumed dead. Yossarian is so astounded by this disappearance that he tells ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen, who responds with utter apathy. Wintergreen is a loser who is forced to dig holes six feet wide every time he goes AWOL. Nevertheless, he takes his punishment very seriously and does such a good job that he is recommended for the Good Conduct Medal. One day while he is digging for water, he strikes oil. Chief White Halfoat is kicked off the base and sent to Pianosa.

About ten days later, Appleby goes to see Major Major to report Yossarian’s refusal to take his Atabrine tablet. Sergeant Towser informs him, however, that no one sees Major Major in his office when Major Major is in his office. The humiliated Appleby departs, leaving a note about Yossarian.

When Colonel Cathcart raises the number of missions to fifty-five, Sergeant Towser becomes convinced that all uniformed men are insane. He also begins to think what a waste it was to fly Mudd over, since he died so soon afterwards and now is in Yossarian’s tent, completely worthless. Yossarian barely had known Mudd, the unknown soldier, who had died only two hours after his arrival at the siege of Bologna.

In a closing scene with Dr. Stubbs, Doc Daneeka's replacement, Dr. Stubbs snickers that Yossarian is crazy because he may be the only sane person left.

Chapter 11: Captain Black

Corporal Kolodny is shocked to find out about the missions to Bologna and passes the news to Captain Black, a skimpy, lethargic man who enjoys sneering at his men's fate. He becomes ecstatic when he is expected to succeed Major Duluth after the latter's death at Bologna, but Colonel Cathcart chooses Major Major instead.

In revenge, Captain Black begins the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade. Each time someone wants intelligence information from him, he has to sign a loyalty oath. Gradually, Captain Black ups the requirements so that the other officers cannot compete with him. If anyone complains, he points out that those who are moral and loyal to their country will want to sign the Loyalty Oath and sign “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He refuses to let Major Major sign the oath and then accuses him of being a Communist.

Milo will not participate in the Crusade. He refuses to stop giving food to Major Major just because he is a reported Communist. Doc Daneeka also refuses to cooperate with Captain Black but gives in after the threat that he will be sent to the Pacific.

Meanwhile, Colonels Cathcart and Korn argue about Captain Black's new patriotic binge and who is responsible for Major Major's promotion. Black appeals for support from his idol, Major -- de Coverley. When de Coverley arrives, though, he angrily pushes away the Glorious Loyalty Oath and demands “eats.” At this point, Milo starts to give out food rather than the oaths. The Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade comes to an end, much to Captain Black's concealed disappointment.

Chapter 12: Bologna

The men keep hoping that the rain will prevent the siege at Bologna, but it finally stops and the mission must proceed. Gradually, they begin to resent the scarlet line on the map that demarcates the bomb line. That night, Yossarian moves the line on the map over Bologna. Captain Black informs Colonels Cathcart and Korn, and the mission is cancelled. Since no one has captured the city and deserves the medal, General Peckem asks to have it for himself.

Meanwhile, Yossarian tells Wintergreen that Milo is infuriated because Wintergreen is competing in the black market against him. Wintergreen replies to Yossarian that he should do his own job, which is to bomb Bologna. Wintergreen and Clevinger then accuse Yossarian of moving the bomb line. Yossarian argues that he is justified in saving his own life.

That night, the drunk men, led by Chief White Halfoat, steal Captain Black's car. They end up in the mud and run into Clevinger, who harshly rebukes them. The drunkards all laugh back until someone points out that the rain has stopped and they will have to fly the mission to Bologna. Amidst all the hubbub, Hungry Joe has a nightmare and screams loudly in the car. He believes that Huple's cat is on his face, suffocating him. Actually the cat is on his face, and Hungry Joe panics. Yossarian tries to officiate a fight between the cat and Hungry Joe, but the cat chickens out and Hungry Joe is declared the winner.

Chapter 13: Major -- de Coverley

Since Yossarian has moved the line, Major -- de Coverley not believes that his troops have captured not only Bologna but also Florence. He is enigmatic to both the Americans and Germans, and his eclectic hobbies include pitching horseshoes and renting apartments for troops to use on their leaves. In fact, de Coverley has rented numerous spacious apartments in Rome, which are owned by a beautiful countess and her daughter-in-law. Yossarian dreams of sleeping with them, but they will only offer themselves to Nately and Aarfy, who refuse to do so. There are plenty of other women around, and Yossarian is particularly fond of the maid in the lime-colored panties who lies for all men.

De Coverley wears an eye patch due to an injury caused by a malicious old man during a parade in Rome. Nevertheless to remain binocular, he insists the patch be transparent. His colossal stature also earns the fear of all the men, and only Milo Minderbinder has the courage to address him, ingratiating himself by offering him a hard-boiled egg from Malta. Taking hints from Milo, de Coverley promises to give Milo plans to make weekly runs to Malta for eggs and to Sicily for butter. This initiates a fresh-egg orgy, and gradually all the officers turn over their mess halls to Milo. His popularity spreads as he opens up other supply lines to include other specialties from lamb chops to artichokes to strawberries.

Meanwhile, Colonel Cathcart is in trouble for failing to destroy the bridge at Ferrara for an entire week. He blames Yossarian, who took evasive action on the first round, although the others missed the target on the first round and it was Yossarian who hit the bridge on the second try. Yossarian suggests that Cathcart cover up this humiliation by giving Yossarian a medal for going around twice and promoting him to captain. Colonels Cathcart and Korn agree this is a good cover-up and promise to do so.

Chapter 14: Kid Sampson

Gradually, Yossarian loses his courage to fly the mission even once. At Bologna, he pretends to have intercom troubles and orders Admiral Kid Sampson to turn the plane back. The men all return jubilantly, but when they land, all they see is Chief White Halfoat forging signatures to obtain more alcohol. Nately and Kid Sampson wander off, and Yossarian returns to his tent.

Yossarian feels good and goes to the beach, where he enjoys the quiet and isolation. The peace of the beach is completely opposite to the unnerving chaos inside the bomber. Yossarian strips and falls asleep. Suddenly, though, the sound of planes from above arouses him from slumber.

In shock, Yossarian watches the formation of the planes and realizes that only his plane is missing. He looks about anxiously but does not see any distress signals, assumes that the clouds have covered the target, and decides that Bologna has not been bombed yet. Actually, Yossarian is wrong. Bologna has been bombed and has been labeled a milk run.


Chapter 8 introduces one of the most important figures in the book, Lieutenant Scheisskopf. As the book progresses, he comes to represent the despicable, military type: the brainless commander who gives orders to his men, is concerned with fanfare and bravado but not meaningful military action, and is the stupid person who somehow manages to be promoted. His name in German literally means "shithead."

Scheisskopf's strange obsession with parades will reappear each time he is promoted. His fascination with superficial grandeur points to a hollow mind. It is sadly funny that Scheisskopf is so busy trying to plan his parades that he ignores the amorous advances of his wife on others. His apathy towards sexual pleasure is also present in other officers such as Colonel Cathcart and General Dreedle. Such behavior is an effect of war: an inability to have pleasure, a desensitization to life. When Scheisskopf accedes to his wife's innuendoes, his whipping of her demonstrates a destructive, cruel streak in what should be a pleasurable, relaxing activity.

The other major event in this chapter is the inquisition of Clevinger. Rather than having the trials based on justice, Scheisskopf uses the Action Board inquiry for his personal vendetta against Clevinger. Due process is violated: rather than Clevinger being charged with a crime and then having evidence presented against him, Scheisskopf decides to create false testimony in an attempt to make up a crime so Clevinger can be punished. This vindictive, unjust pattern will be used again in the inquisition of the chaplain.

The evolution of Major Major from what should have been a normal, mediocre child to a paranoid, insane officer points to an underlying trend among all the soldiers. Basically Major Major finds himself trapped by circumstances. His father tricks him into thinking that he is a normal child until it is too late. People think that he looks like Henry Fonda, his one advantage. In soon finds himself appointed to a position he does not even aspire to at all, one that forces him to ostracize himself and deal with paperwork. Worst of all, he is victimized by the infuriated Captain Black.

The father of Major Major is another person who professes American values but, like the Texan and Colonel Cathcart, is quite despicable. In this case, the father represents the rural farmer who upholds traditional values. Underneath such trappings, though, he is just as deceptive and cruel as Colonels Cathcart and Korn or General Peckem. The values he pretends to aspire to--small government, support for small farmers, and hardcore religious beliefs--are in conflict with what he actually practices. This hypocrisy will be emphasized at the end of the book, when Colonel Cathcart admits he has only flown four missions but has coerced his men to fly eighty so he could be promoted to general.

Major Major's new position exemplifies the faults in the military bureaucracy. First his work is quite unclear, and later General Peckem confides to Colonel Cathcart that “delegation of responsibility” means that the work is just passed on to someone lower. Thus Major Major ends up with loads of meaningless paperwork. This paperwork can only stop when the military bureaucracy accomplishes its purpose or Major Major rejects his identity. Thus, Major Major wears disguises and refuses to see anyone because he no longer exists. At last, Colonel Cathcart has accomplished his purpose: to completely obliterate the existence of a person and leave behind a malleable, unidentified soul.

Chapter 10 is one of the more amusing chapters. It provides further explanations, or contradictions, for incidents previously discussed. The briefly mentioned dead man in Yossarian's tent is now given a name, Mudd. But the refusal to recognize him as a person symbolizes the military institution's denial of the meaning of human life of those who die. This deprivation of identity will be seen again in other characters, including the soldier in white and Major Major. In fact, this action points to the underlying, erroneous belief of the military bureaucracy that since their soldiers are no longer self-actualized human beings with lives of their own, they are just another expendable resource like oil or food.

The role of ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen is explained more fully here. We see that he is a “snide little punk” who enjoys going AWOL and who has misdirected pride in fulfilling his punishment. The action of digging holes comes to symbolize Wintergreen's slow descent into the inferno and the sadistic pleasure he receives out of stirring up even more trouble with the military correspondence each time he returns. Wintergreen will come to play a subtle but critical role in the following events, as he prevents Colonel Cathcart from becoming a general and thus causing indirectly the increase in the required number of missions, as well as the displacement of General Peckem by the newly promoted General Scheisskopf.

Being personally vindictive can also take other forms besides Lieutenant Scheisskopf's method of persecution in the courts. In this chapter, Captain Black takes advantage of the ongoing war to drive his Glorious Loyalty Oath Campaign. He uses patriotism as an excuse to force his will upon the men. Gradually, like Lieutenant Scheisskopf's infatuation with parades, Captain Black's obsession with the Glorious Loyalty Oath consumes not only his own life but even that of others. He wrongfully imposes his views upon the other men, and those who oppose him, such as Milo and Doc Daneeka, are quickly forced into submission. Justice and innocence of the victim are completely ignored in Captain Black's mad pursuit for revenge. His supervisors, Colonels Cathcart and Korn, refuse to take responsibility, so the unfortunate Major Major is left to fend for himself once again. Major’s paranoia is now justified in the perspective of Captain Black's terrible actions against him.

The end of the Oath Campaign is particularly ironic. Denying food coercively unless people sign the oath makes no sense to Major -- de Coverley. Ironically, Captain Black brings upon his own plan’s destruction when he invites de Coverley. Strangely, the Major is described as a god with a white hair and Jehovan bearing, and figuratively, he does act as a god when he saves the entire squadron from the dangerous clutches of Captain Black.

Chapter 12 exposes the weaknesses of the military bureaucracy: the poor communication within the military, the severe lack of common sense, and worst of all, the greed to get medals and promotions. This initial conversation among the officers points to their apathy. In fact, Colonel Cathcart is extremely relieved because he only wants the honor of having accomplished the mission. Whether any effective military action is taken does not matter as long as Colonel Cathcart earns the honor. Medals are not determined by merit but by politics. Amazingly enough, no one inquires about what seems to be a very unusual action. For some reason, the people in charge of the land operations are not in close communication with their airpower.

More importantly, though, Yossarian for the first time takes direct action against the military to stop flying missions. This step foreshadows his future open refusal to stop flying missions. Yossarian refuses to conform to the institution’s patterns. Instead Yossarian sees everything from the viewpoint of an individual whose main interest is to survive. Just as General Peckem sees General Dreedle as his enemy, Yossarian sees anyone who tries to kill him as his enemy. In Yossarian’s conversation with Clevinger, Clevinger plays Devil's advocate and takes on the institutional viewpoint that people give up their identity and their duty to their own survival when they becomes soldiers. Colonel Cargill's and General Peckem's evasive answers about why they themselves are not fighting, however--they are better administrators--ring a bit hollow. It seems reasonable, under these circumstances, for Yossarian to protect himself because it seems reasonable to suspect that the officers are essentially trying to kill him to meet their own goals.

Chapter 13 provides two major incidents for the plot. The first is Major -- de Coverley's peculiar habit of renting apartments with lots of beautiful women for the enlisted men and the officers. Ironically, this eccentricity will end up haunting Yossarian when Nately meets the whore who later tries to kill Yossarian to avenge Nately's death. More importantly (for now), Colonels Cathcart and Korn also try to cover up Yossarian's evasive action by promoting him to captain and giving him a medal. While these two incidents do not seem to bear any relation to each other, this strange habit and Yossarian's accolades will be intimately tied together at the end of the book when the officers threaten to use the whore incident to deprive Yossarian of his awards.

A strange logic pervades the book here. Rather than sensibly punishing Yossarian for his evasive actions, Colonels Cathcart and Korn decide to award him a medal. Thus, none of them will be caught--unless this plan itself fails.

The apartments are a minor paradise for the men, a haven from the insanity and meaninglessness of the war. This contrasts very heavily with the Eden, later described in Chapters 20 and 25, that the chaplain enjoys. Whereas the chaplain elevates his wife to a Beatrice figure, Yossarian treasures very highly the maid in the lime-colored panties who lies for all the men without any discrimination.

In Chapter 14, Yossarian continues to aggressively fight against flying more missions. This time he tears apart the intercom. Admiral Kid Sampson, the innocent victim of this plot, is only too eager to comply and turn back. The conversation between Yossarian and Kid Sampson is especially telling about Sampson. Although everything is going quite well, Yossarian quickly dupes him into thinking that something is wrong. Underneath his cheerful, happy-go-lucky veneer, Sampson is revealed to be just like Yossarian, eager to go home for any petty reason. As will be shown later, the entire squadron secretly are all Yossarians inside but lack the courage to openly express their self-protective cowardice.

The beach is yet another superficial paradise in the book, much like the hospital and the apartments. There is a false sense of peace at the beach. Although it appears to be a haven, it turns out to be the sight of a disturbing scene for Yossarian, the presence of the bomb squad. Yossarian incorrectly assumes that death is awaiting him already. Actually, his timing is off since the mission is only a milk run. Still, his terrible premonition about death will come when he least expects it, when McWatt accidentally slices Kid Sampson in half with his airplane. In peacetime, a beach is a place of paradise, but not in wartime.