In brackets

Did the chaplain walk into a pole, and is cursing? Those look more like pain symbols. Or is he known for complaining, and the moment of uplift (hah!) was an interruption of a usually dismal demeanor? But that’s not my impression of him. Still, is there any other good interpretation of the ‘parentheses’ remark?


  1. Parentheses are sometimes used to represent muttered comments and asides. So the chaplain muttered some imprecations after walking into the pole.

  2. “Or is he known for complaining, and the moment of uplift (hah!) was an interruption of a usually dismal demeanor?”

    Um… probably just me but I can’t parse, interpret, nor comprehend that comment.

    “Those look more like pain symbols” I think the actual walking into the pole and the actual cursing is off panel (and a little confusing to me). In hind sight I think Mort Walker at the time (this is a reprint from decades ago… right?) thought the be public complaint if he showed a man of God cursing. We could joke about it but we could not show it directly.

  3. I can help! The first speech bubble is the chaplain urging the men to be cheerful, even while working hard. That sort of positive message is sometimes called “uplifting”, hence the comment about “the moment of uplift”. And the statement mentions “mak[ing] the load lighter” so is almost literally about lifting something up — and indeed the two guys are lifting a load up, or anyhow bearing it along after having lifted it up — so the match of literal uplift with tonal uplift was acknowledged with the “(hah!)”. Yes, I was foolishly laughing at my own jape — but perhaps allowed because it genuinely had been accidental.

    A mistake I was making, and why I perhaps mistakenly called it a CIDU, was in not seeing “that one” as referring to the pain expression or cursing. If you then are stuck seeing that as referring instead to the original uplifting remark, how then to interpret it being in parentheses? And would it be an exception to the “everything” ?

  4. But what’s wrong with the obvious interpretation?

    The chaplain gives a platitudinal and unoriginal word of encouragement. Killer comments on how cliched the statement is by saying the chaplain sounds like it has quote marks around it (i.e. he’s uninspiringly just quoting boring phrases made but other people). Off screen the chaplain walks into a pole and curses and Beetle says those sound more parenthetical as curses are put in parenthesis.

    Okay, claiming curses are “parenthetical” isn’t really clear or straightforward. But it’s clearer and more straightforward then meaning a person is acting out of character. Why would a character acting out of character be parenthetical?

  5. Woozy: But what’s wrong with the obvious interpretation?

    Why are you bothering saying this now? My previous comment was not disagreeing, but was explaining how previously I didn’t see it, and what as a result I meant by some of the phrasing in the post that you found incomprehensible. I was explaining where it came from, so that it might become more comprehensible; but was not asserting that that original misunderstanding was in any way better than the emerging explanation.

  6. Beetle thinks everything the chaplain says is just quoting someone else, as woozy indicated. However, the cursing or other comments that come from walking into a pole wouldn’t be a quote, but instead an editorial comment and therefore put in parenthesis.

  7. The chaplain may very well have uttered some vulgar words between the panels, and Beetle makes it clear that the chaplain said something out loud between panels 1 & 2 that the readers didn’t get to hear.

    However, when you accidentally walk into a pole, you normally utter something, even if it’s just an “Oof!” that doesn’t really employ any English words.

    And that might be what Beetle is referring to. “Oof” (or a similar breath sound) isn’t always rendered in English text — just as it isn’t rendered in this cartoon — which is why Beetle suggests that it’s more of a parenthetical remark.

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