1

‘Why, no. I didn’t know you were a chaplain.’ Yossarian stared at him with a big, fascinated grin. ‘I’ve never really seen a chaplain before.’ The chaplain flushed again and gazed down at his hands. He was a slight man of about thirty-two with tan hair and brown diffident eyes. His face was narrow and rather pale. An innocent nest of ancient pimple pricks lay in the basin of each cheek. Yossarian wanted to help him.

—Catch 22

Found a definition may fit in

A circular or oval valley or natural depression on the earth’s surface, especially one containing water:

Does it mean the hollow area(because chaplain was thin, so probably in the face too)at the centre of both cheeks?

2

The word basin here is used to describe that the surface (of the face) is bit sunken, a bit depressed as you guessed it. The previous sentence in the paragraph supports what we think.

WordWebOnline has an entry for that which I think is close in meaning for this context

basin (#3) - A natural depression in the surface of the land often with a lake at the bottom of it

  • The OED has a definition that might work: "A hollow depression, natural or artificial." – snailboat Aug 23 '14 at 9:20
  • @snailplane Searched, could not get it. – Maulik V Aug 23 '14 at 9:24
  • 2
    @snailplane OED 1 is available online; Basin is here, where your definition is II. Links to the other volumes are here on ELL. – StoneyB Aug 23 '14 at 13:16

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