Chaplain Tappman - Character Overview

Character Overview

He is a naïve Anabaptist minister from Kenosha, Wisconsin, who is tormented throughout the novel by his atheist assistant, Corporal Whitcomb. While easily intimidated by the cruelty of others, the chaplain is a kind, gentle and sensitive man who worries constantly about his wife and children at home. He is the only character in the book Yossarian truly trusts, and interestingly the novel opens with:

It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.

He is timid and shy, and only through his friendship with Yossarian does he feel comfortable. In particular he enjoys the company of Yossarian and his friends at the staff club, until he is thrown out by Colonel Cathcart after General Dreedle is embarrassed by him.

Also of note is that the Chaplain and Yossarian have the first characteristic Heller-like circular dialogue in the novel:

"You're a chaplain," he exclaimed ecstatically. "I didn't know you were a chaplain."
"Why, yes," the chaplain answered. "Didn't you know I was a chaplain?"
"Why, no. I didn't know you were a chaplain."

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