Chapter 25 Summary
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 504
The Chaplain has long been questioning his faith, and being an Army chaplain is making things worse. He sees himself as a failure. He has met Yossarian many times and always feels as if he has met him before; to him, such feelings have importance. The chaplain misses his family and is convinced he is not “particularly well suited to his work.” He feels safe sitting with Yossarian and Dunbar at the officers’ club, as he is protected from others who welcome him effusively but are anxious for him to go away. Yossarian even defends him the night Colonel Cathcart tried to eject him from the officer’s club.
No one seems to understand that Chaplain Albert Taylor Tappman is a normal human being with a wife and children. His assistant, Whitcomb, is the only one who might understand that Tappman has feelings, but he hurts them when he makes the recommendation that the unit should use only form condolence letters for fallen soldiers.
The chaplain lives in constant, crippling fear that something awful is going to happen to his family. He feels most hypocritical when he presides at funerals, and one extraordinary funeral he remembers precisely because he saw an apparition in a nearby tree.
Major Major and Major Danby are standing like pillars next to him before the “repulsive coffin” when the chaplain sees the naked man in the tree, soon joined by a sinister-looking, mustached man wearing black who gives the naked man a drink from a goblet.
Today he was humiliated by Cathcart, Colonel Korn, and Whitcomb and he has to escape. He makes the strenuous trek to Major Major’s office and is allowed to enter because Major is absent; inside, the chaplain senses an inhumane trick and escapes through the window and imagines he hears derisive laughter as he staggers away until he feels safe. He finally gets back to his office where a surly Whitcomb announces that Major Major had been here and left Tappman a private letter. Whitcomb destroyed the letter as soon as he read it.
The chaplain goes back to see Major and is told Major sent Yossarian to him because Major can do nothing to change the required number of missions. He walks dejectedly home through the forest where he is accosted by a frightened soldier. Flume lives wildly in the forest because he is afraid of everyone who has threatened to kill him.
Cathcart has promoted Whitcomb for bringing him the idea of personally signing every condolence letter in hopes of getting himself publicity and orders the chaplain to write long, poignant letters for every fallen soldier, something the chaplain protests is impossible. Undeterred, Cathcart orders another mission to Avignon to increase casualties and thus his chance to achieve fame.
Tappman follows orders and appears at the officer’s club every night until Cathcart and General Dreedle change their minds and kick him out again. The only constant in the chaplain’s life is his wavering faith and unanswered questions.