Chapter 36: The Cellar Notes from Catch-22

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Catch-22 Chapter 36: The Cellar

Chaplain Tappman is deeply saddened by Nately's death. Several stern officials suddenly apprehend the bewildered chaplain and bring him to a dank basement for questioning. They give him a handwriting test and accuse him of forging Washington Irving's name to official documents. As evidence, they produce a letter written to the chaplain's wife.

"And looking very superior, he tossed down on the table a photostatic copy of a piece of V mail in which everything but the salutation 'Dear Mary' had been blocked out and on which the censoring officer had written, 'I long for you tragically. A.T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army.'" Chapter 36, pg. 393

This is the letter Yossarian fraudulently censored during an earlier hospital stay. The chaplain recognizes Yossarian's handwriting but keeps his mouth shut. The interrogators also mock his religion and accuse him of stealing Colonel Cathcart's plum tomato. Chaplain Tappman is abruptly released and he complains to Colonel Korn about the recent unfair deaths. Many of those who died in the latest missions had completed their seventy missions and should have been sent home. Colonel Korn informs him that General Peckem has replaced Dreedle as the new wing commander. Because Peckem is close to Colonel Cathcart, the chaplain doesn't stand a chance.

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