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Catch-22 | Study Guide

Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 | Chapter 37 : General Scheisskopf | Summary



Scheisskopf, a man without talent or intelligence, has just been promoted to lieutenant general. All combat operations have been placed under the jurisdiction of Special Services. That means Scheisskopf is now commanding officer. General Peckem is beside himself with rage and exclaims, "I walked all over that blockhead, and now he's my superior officer."

Peckem is so busy trying to reach someone who can explain what's happened that he refuses to see the chaplain, who wants to complain about the way Colonel Cathcart keeps increasing the required number of combat missions. As a result none of the higher-ups at Wing Headquarters learn what Cathcart's been up to.


Generals Dreedle and Peckem have been rivals since their first appearance in the book. Peckem, the more scheming and manipulative of the two, has finally succeeded in outmaneuvering Dreedle. But he has no time to savor his victory: Scheisskopf, whom he detests, has been promoted above him.

From a dramatic point of view, Chapter 37 contributes little to the novel. Readers already know that Scheisskopf is obsessed with parades, so it's not much of a surprise to hear that he now wants the officers to march in parades as well. But the chapter brings the subplot of Peckem's machinations to a satisfying close. Peckem, a thoroughly unsympathetic character, now reports to Scheisskopf, who's both unsympathetic and stupid. Justice has been served, which is the real contribution of the chapter to the novel.

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