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List of characters in Catch-22

The following is a list of characters in the novel Catch-22''' by Joseph Heller.

Significant characters

  • John Yossarian

Captain John Yossarian is a fictional character in Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 and its sequel Closing Time. Yossarian is the protagonist of both stories. In Catch-22, Yossarian is a 28-year-old Captain in the 256th squadron of the Army Air Forces where he serves as a B-25 bombardier stationed on the small island of Pianosa off the Italian mainland during World War II. Yossarian's exploits are based on the experiences of the author: Heller was also a bombardier in the Air Corps, stationed on an island off the coast of Italy during World War II.

  • Captain Aardvark

The captain's nickname "Aarfy" is an abbreviation of his surname, Aardvark. Aarfy is the navigator in Yossarian's B-25, noted for being oblivious to incoming flak, getting lost on missions, and his omnipresent pipe. Aarfy sees himself as moral and protects well connected women from the sexual advances of other officers, looking for any possibility of self-advance within society. "Old Aarfy has never paid for it" he often says in reference to prostitutes. He often and openly commits rape, because he says he can tell which girl is "nice and clean" and which isn't.

  • Chaplain Tappman

Tappman 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.

  • Colonel Cathcart

A full colonel, Cathcart is a group commander at the U.S. Army Air Corps base in Pianosa and is obsessed with becoming a general. As such, he does whatever it takes to please his superiors—in particular, by repeatedly raising the number of missions the men have to fly to complete a tour of duty, beyond that normally ordered by other outfits. This becomes the bane of Yossarian's life, as every time he comes close to obtaining the target number of missions for being sent home, Colonel Cathcart raises the required number again.

  • Doctor Daneeka

Doc Daneeka is the squadron physician and a friend of the novel's protagonist, Yossarian. Doc Daneeka's main motivation throughout is for his own welfare, if that be making money or protecting his own life. He generally forgets his moral duty as a physician except in the most extreme of circumstances. Doc Daneeka feels the military is responsible for him being drafted into the war effort and putting him in harm's way, because they were distrustful of him when he lied on his drafting papers about his health. He is constantly scared of upsetting his superiors who may see fit to then ship him off to the far more dangerous South Pacific. Already he sees it as military cruelty to have been assigned to the Air Corps even though he is scared of flying.

  • Milo Minderbinder

Milo is the mess officer at the U.S. Army Air Corps base and he becomes obsessed with expanding mess operations and trading goods for the profits of the syndicate (in which he and everyone else "has a share"). Milo is a satire of the modern businessman, and beyond that is the living representation of capitalism, as he has no allegiance to any country, person or principle unless it pays him. Milo even begins contracting missions for the Germans, fighting on both sides in the battle at Orvieto, and bombing the squadron at Pianosa. At one point Milo orders his fleet of aircraft to attack the American base where he lives, killing many American officers and enlisted men. He finally gets court-martialed for treason. However, as M&M Enterprises, Milo's syndicate, proves to be incredibly profitable, he hires an expensive lawyer who is able to convince the court that it was capitalism which made America great, and absolve Milo by disclosing the enormous profit he made by dealing with the Germans.

  • Lieutenant Nately

Nately's family originally enlisted him to serve in the Air Corps, believing the war would be over by the time he finished his training and that he would mingle with "gentlemen." Therefore, Nately could gain the pride of enlisting without actually having to fight. Instead, he mingled with Yossarian and Dunbar, and was sent overseas. He lives in a tent with McWatt next to Havermeyer's tent. His most notable contribution to the book is his involvement with a whore, Nately's Whore, who is for the most part uninterested in him until he gave her some time to sleep. He is often filled with American optimism, shown by his desire to marry his whore and send her kid sister to a respected U.S. college. However, he is killed on a pointless mission when Dobbs flies his plane into Nately's. Nately's whore blames Yossarian and she spends the rest of the book trying to murder him.

  • Lieutenant Scheisskopf

Scheisskopf is the training commander for Yossarian and Clevinger, and he takes a particular dislike to Clevinger. Even though Clevinger is just as serious for parades as Scheisskopf, and his ideas help the squadron win multiple parades, Scheisskopf still considers him a wise guy, and someone that needs to be brought down a peg or two.

  • Mrs. Scheisskopf

Scheisskopf is always too busy planning parades to fulfill his wife’s masochistic sexual fantasies and replies to her requests, ”Don’t you know there’s a parade going on?” Instead, she sleeps with Scheisskopf's cadets, so they can all get revenge on her husband, and so can she for some “unforgettable crime she couldn’t recall.” Mrs Scheisskopf is well read and has a Maths major, but cannot count to twenty-eight without getting into trouble every month.

  • Snowden

Snowden is a member of Yossarian's flight during a mission, and acts as catalyst for the fundamental change in Yossarian's mentality and outlook. After their plane takes heavy anti-aircraft fire, Snowden is mortally wounded and it is Yossarian who attempts to come to Snowden's aid by treating his visible wounds with white bandages and sulfanilamide powder. Snowden's death leaves a lasting impression on Yossarian.

Other characters

  • Appleby- Appleby is a young pilot from Iowa. He is described as being "as good at shooting craps as he was at playing ping-pong, and he was as good at playing ping-pong as he was at everything else." Appleby's character appears to represent those who thrive to a certain extent within a bureaucratic system and feel threatened by others who do not play along as much as they would like them to. He follows regulations without question and does everything he is supposed to do, managing to succeed at whatever he does.
  • Captain Black- Because of the lack of risk involved in not flying missions, Captain Black wanted to take over Major Duluth's position as squadron commander when the Major was killed over Perugia. He was thwarted, however, by Major Major, who was appointed squadron commander by Colonel Cathcart. Captain Black also constantly mocks his fellow countrymen at the Pianosa airbase when they are faced by dangerous missions, by constantly telling everyone to "eat his liver." Since he is the camp's intelligence officer, he is not on combat duty and can therefore maintain his gleeful attitude to the men risking their lives in the air.
  • Colonel Cargill- Cargill was a successful, though completely untalented, marketing executive. In the Air Force, Colonel Cargill provided his legendary lack of skills as General Peckem's troubleshooter. He took self-satisfaction in genius for ineptitude when addressing the enlisted men instead of the officers.
  • Clevinger- Clevinger is a highly principled, highly educated man and acts as Yossarian's foil within the story. He has a completely naïve and optimistic view of the world causing Yossarian to consider him to be a "dope," and both he and Yossarian believe the other is crazy. Clevinger is one of the most, if not the most, down-to-earth characters within the story, separating him out from the surrounding hubbub and hypocrisy.
  • Nurse Cramer- Nurse Cramer is the best friend of Nurse Duckett and after Nurse Duckett starts a relationship with Yossarian, puritanical Nurse Cramer stops speaking to her. However, Nurse Cramer does keep herself at a 10-yard distance from the two whenever they find themselves at the beach. When Nurse Duckett spends her free time with Yossarian and his friends, Nurse Cramer never leaves them.
  • Major Danby- A college professor and intellectual who sees himself as a poor match for the armed services. He briefs the airmen on upcoming missions.
  • Mrs. Daneeka-
  • Major —— de Coverley- Major —— de Coverley has a terrifying visage in the old Biblical tradition, so much so that men will do his desires without him even saying a word, and no one dares ask his first name. The exact nature of the Major’s duties within the bomber group is uncertain. He is Major Major's executive officer, but at the squadron base in Pianosa his only official duties are pitching horseshoes, renting two-room apartments for the soldiers on rest leave, and kidnapping Italian laborers. His frequent appearance during the fall of major cities makes him an object of interest to intellegnce agencies on both sides who cannot identify him.
  • General Dreedle- The commander of the U.S. Army Air Corps base in Pianosa, Dreedle is an exceedingly blunt and ill-tempered man. He is an archetypal no-nonsense military man who does not care what the men under his command do as long as they fight and die unquestioningly when given orders. His arch-rival is General Peckem, head of Special Services in Rome; the two men frequently have their disputes mediated without their knowledge by the desk clerk Ex-PFC Wintergreen.
  • Dobbs- Originally a healthy young man, the effects of excessive combat missions have shot Dobbs' nerves, and when the narration of the book begins he is emotionally unstable and physically spent. He is described as being one of the worst pilots in the corps and his mid-air panic leads him to snatch the controls of the plane away from Huple, when Snowden is killed.
  • Nurse Duckett- At the start of the novel Nurse Duckett does not like Yossarian but later on she has a relationship with Yossarian which jeopardizes her friendship with Nurse Cramer. She breaks off her affair with Yossarian when she decides to marry a doctor, and realizes she should not jeopardize her chances by carrying on openly with Yossarian.
  • Dunbar- Dunbar is an airman stationed at the same base as Yossarian, on the island of Pianosa. However unlike most of Yossarian's fellows described in the novel, Dunbar serves in a different squadron from Yossarian. He seems to have a personality very similar to that of Yossarian, and so they make fast friends. Like Yossarian, Dunbar's chief goal is to prolong his life to whatever extent possible.
  • Dori Duz-
  • Lieutenant Engle-
  • Captain Flume- Captain Flume is the squadron's public relations officer, until he moves out of the trailer he shares with Chief White Halfoat after Halfoat threatens to slit Flume's throat open from ear to ear. It seems that Chief White Halfoat's goal in this is to turn Flume from an obnoxious upstart to a lonely, paranoid, introvert, which he succeeds in doing: everytime Flume encounters someone else, he is either threatened by them that they will cut his throat (as a joke, but Flume takes them seriously) or believes that they are about to cut his throat.
  • Gus & Wes-
  • Havermeyer- Havermeyer lives in the tent next to Yossarian's, and according to Colonel Cathcart he is "the best damn bombardier we've got." This was because he insisted on flying his plane dead straight to, over, and past the target despite any anti-aircraft fire he receives.
  • Huple- Huple is a fifteen-year-old pilot who lied about his age to get into the Army, and shares a tent with Hungry Joe on the wrong side of the railway tracks.
  • Hungry Joe- Hungry Joe is noted for constantly trying to photograph women nude, claiming to be a photographer for Life Magazine (which, ironically, he was before the war). Although he is sometimes successful in getting the girls to pose for him with his "wild cajolery," his pictures never come out and he never "gets in", as in his haste he can not decide what to do first - photograph or "furgle" them.
  • Sergeant Knight- The turret gunner on Yossarian's plane; he begins a panic prior to the Bologna operation when he brings extra flak jackets, causing everyone to think the target is deadly.
  • Corporal Kolodny- Captain Black's assistant. He erroneously reports the Bologna has been captured by the Allies after Yossarian redraws the lines on the battle map.
  • Colonel Korn- The assistant to Colonel Cathcart. Korn is sadistic, cynical, and humorless.
  • Kraft- A man who Yossarian remembers from the bombing of a bridge at Ferrara.
  • Luciana- A woman who Yossarian briefly dates in Rome, Italy.
  • Major Major Major Major-
  • McWatt- The pilot of Yossarian's plane. After accidentally killing Kid Sampson, he commits suicide by crashing his plane into a mountain.
  • Michaela-
  • Colonel Moodus- General Dreedle's son-in-law, whom the general hates.
  • Lt. Mudd- Known as the dead man in Yossarian's tent, Mudd was killed in action before officially joining the squadron. No one will accept responsibility for Mudd and his belongings, and Sergeant Toswer refuses to believe the man existed at all.
  • Orr-
  • General Peckem- A personification of bureaucracy, General Peckem wants to replace General Dreedle as the head of combat operations in Pianosa.
  • Piltchard & Wren- Two captains in charge of squadron operations that are always mentioned in tandem. They are sympathetic towards Yossarian despite his desire to avoid missions.
  • Corporal Popinjay- The clerk present at Clevinger's trial; he is imprisoned for being too specific in his shorthand.
  • Kid Sampson- An underaged soldier killed by the propeller of McWatt's airplane. The event later drives McWatt to suicide and causes Doc Daneeka's bureaucratic "death."
  • Major Sanderson- A neurotic psychiatrist who is convinced that Yossarian is mentally unstable because he acts rationally.
  • Corporal Snark- The mess sergeant before Milo Minderbinder. He was demoted for purposely poisoning sweet potatoes with soap chips, giving the squadron diarrhea.
  • The Soldier Who Sees Everything Twice- A delirious soldier that Yossarian imitates and later impersonates when he dies. The soldier's family does not notice that Yossarian is not their son, Giuseppe.
  • Dr. Stubbs-
  • Sergeant Towser- Major Major's assistant; he prevents anyone from seeing the Major while he is in his office, and only allows them in when the Major is gone, leaving him the de facto head of the squadron.
  • Lieutenant Travers-
  • Corporal Whitcomb- An atheist who constantly antagonizes Chaplain Tappman.
  • Chief White Halfoat- An American Indian whose family was forced to move from wherever they settled because oil was always discovered. The character personifies social commentary on racism against Native Americans.
  • ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen- An ex-P.F.C. because of his constant urge to go AWOL, Wintergreen has been demoted so many times that he entertains hopes of becoming an ex-general. Due to his position in charge of mail distribution, he wields a great amount of power in the novel. By forging documents and destroying mail, he becomes more powerful than the generals.

Unnamed characters

  • The C.I.D. Investigators-
  • Dreedle's girl- Allegedly a nurse, and follows General Dreedle wherever he goes. She is a very attractive woman and Dreedle keeps her around to torment his son-in-law, Colonel Moodus, hoping to catch him in an adulterous situation for which he can punish him.
  • The Maid with the lime-colored panties- A woman who Yossarian paradoxically falls in love with because she is the only woman that Yossarian can't possibly fall in love with.
  • Nately's Whore-
  • The Soldier in White- An unnamed soldier wrapped completely in bandages. He is connected to two bottles of unidentified and similar looking liquid, one which pumps the liquid through an IV into the soldier, and the other which drains the liquid from the soldier through a zinc catheter. When the bottles are respectively empty and full, they are switched around.
  • The Texan- A man in the hospital ward who is so good natured and friendly that no one in the ward can stand him; in less than 10 days the occupants of the ward all return to duty.

References

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