Chapter 29 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 506

Peckem

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Orr does not appear for ten days, and Colonel Cathcart is told to prepare a letter to Orr’s next-of-kin. General Peckem has sent an order: there will be no parade this Sunday because Colonel Scheisskopf is being sent overseas. Scheisskopf does not approve of the move, nevertheless he reports to Peckem in Rome as ordered.

P.P. Peckem is a “handsome, pink-skinned man of fifty-three” who is quite aware of everyone’s ridiculousness but his own. His language is bombastic and he thinks he is most amusing. Scheisskopf is not amused and Peckem is stunned at the man’s lack of enthusiasm for his wittiness. Though this causes Peckem some self-doubt, he magnanimously forgives Scheisskopf and proceeds to flatter him with lies. He assures Scheisskopf that nothing they do in this department is very important and there is never a rush to get it done; however, it is imperative that others know they “do a great deal of it.”

If Scheisskopf needs more help than the two majors, four captains, and sixteen lieutenants he has already requested for his staff, he simply has to ask. Scheisskopf asks about the parades he was told he can have (he will not be allowed to have them) and about bringing his wife here with him, as he was told (he will not be allowed to bring her). Peckem reminds Scheisskopf that people have a right to lie to him. When he sees Scheisskopf wilt, Peckem is thankful to have such a weak subordinate; a strong-willed one would have been unbearable.

Peckem elaborately explains their current military position, honing in on their true enemy:  Dreedle. If they can conquer him, they will have all the “aircraft and vital bases” they need in order to “carry their operations into other areas.” Peckem is gleeful at the thought of Dreedle’s impending demise, but all Scheisskopf is content to receive permission to send out weekly notifications that the parades have been postponed, which will be “infinitely more disconcerting.”

Colonel Cargill later demands to know why he cannot be the one to postpone the (nonexistent) parades. Peckem allows him to cancel equally non-existing USO shows. Before long, Peckem’s two colonels are silently antagonistic to one another, which is just what Peckem wants.

The next mission will use bombs to create a roadblock near a small village. Dunbar and Yossarian are shocked that the villagers will not be warned to take cover and remind their superiors that the villagers come out of their homes and wave every time airplanes fly close. When Colonel Korn hears the pilots’ arguments, he silences the room by asking if they would rather go back to Bologna. He finally reveals that the goal is not really a roadblock but getting a good, usable aerial photograph with which to impress Peckem.

When Peckem arrives, Colonel Cathcart continues the briefing, alternating between fear and confidence. He ends with a rousing exhortation for the men to do this mission for him, for their country, for God, and for Peckem.

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