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Catch-22 Characters

by Joseph Heller

Character List

Captain John Yossarian

A squadron bombardier who represents the individual. He views the war as a destructive tool both to institutions and their supporters. While his arguments about self-survival seem unusual and even paranoid, they sometimes possess an amazing amount of common sense and lucidity. He futilely protests when Colonel Cathcart continuously increases of the number of missions that Yossarian must complete. At the end of the book, Yossarian decides to flee rather than face an unjust court-martial hearing.

Orr

Yossarian's roommate. His strange habits include putting apples and horse chestnuts into his cheeks, installing new luxuries such as running water into his tent, and crash-landing every mission. Yossarian dismisses him as crazy, but one day Orr disappears after another typical crash landing. At the end of the book, Yossarian realizes that he had tricked everyone into thinking that he was crazy so he could escape without being caught.

Mudd

The dead roommate in Yossarian's tent who, except for his name, remains unknown and unclaimed. He is killed just two hours after his arrival in Pianosa and does not even have a chance to unpack his bags. Yossarian bemoans the wrongful, immediate death.

Clevinger

A Harvard graduate who argues with Yossarian about his tactics to try to avoid flying more missions. Always questioning everyone about deep issues, Colonel Scheisskopf constantly recruits cadets to testify against him, although Clevinger cannot be charged with any crimes. One day, Clevinger mysteriously disappears and is presumed dead. By the end of the book, Yossarian assumes that Clevinger has come to his senses and has deserted.

Havermeyer

The other leading squadron bombardier, who enjoys chewing peanut butter brittle and shooting field mice with his 0.45 pistol. Unlike Yossarian, he never takes evasive action but volunteers to go on every mission. Consequently, he becomes the darling of Colonel Cathcart and the object of hatred of the other troops. At the end of the book, though, he secretly admits to Yossarian that he is sick of flying missions and asks Yossarian to take him along if Yossarian gets an order to leave.

Chief White Halfoat

Captain Flume's alcoholic roommate. He curses the Americans for the wrongs they have committed against his people, and he enjoys scaring Captain Flume. He forges other men's signatures to procure more alcohol, and one drunk night, he steals Captain Black's car and drives it into a ditch. Confirming his prediction in the beginning of the book, he dies from pneumonia.

Captain Flume

Chief White Halfoat's roommate. He is in constant fear that Chief White Halfoat will slit his throat while he is asleep. Consequently, Captain Flume goes to live in the woods where the chaplain finds him. When winter comes, though, he moves back inside, hoping that Chief White Halfoat will die of pneumonia.

Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder

An unscrupulous but very shrewd businessman in the squadron and the owner of M&M Enterprises. His sense and duplicity allow him to earn immense profits during the war. He expands his business by arguing that everyone has a share of the syndicate and should support him. Milo manages to earn a great deal of business by bribing the officers with delicious specialties such as artichokes and baby lamb chops. He makes the terrible mistake of buying the entire crop of Egyptian cotton, though, and loses all his profits since there is no market for the cotton. After attempting to destroy the unwanted crop, Milo decides to bribe the government into buying it from him. Later, he tries to transfer control of the syndicate back to the army so he can fly missions again, but Colonel Cathcart persuades him to continue running it by offering him more planes and medals.

Corporal Snark

Milo's cynical, bitter assistant cook. He despises all the men as being philistines who are unable to recognize good food. To prove his point, he mashes tons of GI soap into the mashed potatoes, and although it gives them diarrhea, they clamor for more.

Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen

A nasty man who is in charge of the mail. He constantly manipulates and plays politics with everyone's correspondence. Every time he goes AWOL, he is required to dig a six-foot hole as punishment. He actually cherishes his job and hopes to win a medal for his exemplary work. He is also involved in the feud between Generals Peckem and Dreedle, constantly throwing out General Peckem's letters because they are too verbose.

Chaplain (Captain) Albert Taylor Tappman

The squadron's nice but ineffectual chaplain. He is kind and weak-willed, but he firmly believes in trying to save human life, particularly Yossarian's. The chaplain enjoys his isolation in the woods despite the black presence of his assistant and his questions about God, life, and creationism. Outside of his little world, though, problems arise. He appeals hopelessly to Major Major and Colonel Cathcart to stop the ongoing increase of required missions. He is also wrongfully interrogated about absurd incidents such as the theft of a plum tomato and Colonel Cathcart's insincere condolence letters.

Corporal (later Sergeant) Whitcomb

The atheistic chaplain's assistant. He tries to make his superior's life as miserable as possible by criticizing him and taking over his operations. Unfortunately, the chaplain is too weak-willed to oppose him, and eventually Whitcomb reports the chaplain's various misdemeanors to Colonel Cathcart in an attempt to gain power and authority for himself.

Dunbar

Yossarian's wardmate, who enjoys shooting skeet to kill time. He tells Yossarian about his strange dreams, which Yossarian passes on to the ward psychiatrist. After realizing that the soldier in white is empty, he is "disappeared" by the doctors.

Captain Aardvark

Nicknamed Aarfy, a constant nuisance in the cockpit. He pretends to be friends with Nately in an attempt to endear himself to Nately's rich father. He is always persuading "nice girls" not to sell their bodies, much to the anger of Yossarian and the other men. Brainless and senseless, Yossarian resents seeing him and constantly punches him when they are together in the cockpit.

Nately

One of Yossarian's co-pilots. He falls in love with a whore he meets in Rome while staying at a specially rented apartment. Nately pursues her to no avail until one night when he and his friends rescue her. After a good night's sleep, she awakens and falls in love with him, too. Unfortunately, Colonel Cathcart threatens to send Nately home without the whore unless he continues to fly more missions. Nately is killed just after he tells Yossarian that he will probably manage to survive after flying so many missions.

Admiral Kid Sampson

One of Yossarian's crew members. He turns around the plane when Yossarian claims that he cannot hear him. Later, he is sliced in half by McWatt when the latter flies his plane just a few inches above the water.

McWatt

Yossarian's pilot. He enjoys infuriating Yossarian by flying his airplane just a few inches over Yossarian's tent. Once, during combat practice, Yossarian loses his temper with McWatt and threatens to choke him to death. McWatt becomes frightened and realizes that Yossarian is indeed going insane. One day, McWatt is flying just above the beach water, and he accidentally slices Kid Sampson in half. Immediately after this, McWatt crashes into the side of the mountain and dies.

Doc Daneeka

The squadron's insensitive doctor. He refuses to help any of the men with their illnesses or problems and evokes "catch-22" as an excuse not to ground the men. A hypochondriac himself, he is wrongfully declared dead because he is supposedly in McWatt's plane when it crashes.

General Peckem

A pseudo-sophisticated general who is trying to displace Dreedle. However, ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen continuously throws out his correspondence because they are too verbose. After much effort, he succeeds in displacing General Dreedle, only to have General Scheisskopf become his superior.

Lieutenant (later Colonel and then Lieutenant General) Scheisskopf

An officer obsessed with the weekly parades and trying to get Clevinger into trouble for unknown crimes. He is too busy trying to figure out how his unit can win the parades to care about his wife's sexual overtures. Upon becoming a colonel, he works under General Peckem, who despises Scheisskopf for his ignorance and stupidity. Finally, Scheisskopf is accidentally promoted to Lieutenant General due to an oversight and a misunderstanding of memos by General Peckem. Upon this, Scheisskopf sends out commands ordering all the men to march.

General Dreedle

A nasty man who taunts General Peckem for his veneer of sophistication. He also hates his son-in-law and tortures him by keeping a beautiful nurse.

Colonel Moodus

General Dreedle's highly despised son-in-law. He is constantly abused by his cruel father-in-law and the beautiful nurse whom General Dreedle keeps to torment him. Chief White Halfoat also enjoys punching Colonel Moodus in the face when he is drunk.

Colonel Cargill

A subordinate of General Dreedle. Formerly an idiot in the area of marketing, he prides himself on his exemplary stupidity.

Major Danby

The goggle-eyed group operations officer. At the end of the book, he encourages Yossarian to run away to avoid being court-martialed for rejecting Colonels Cathcart's and Korn's "odious" deal.

Major -- de Coverley

An almost Jehovah-like figure who is feared and admired by everyone, especially Captain Black. Ironically, though, he puts an end to Captain Black's ludicrous Glorious Loyalty Oath crusade. He enjoys renting floors of apartments filled with beautiful women so that the enlisted men and officers can enjoy themselves on their rest leaves.

Colonel Cathcart

A ruthless, cold-blooded, ambitious officer. His goal in life is to become a general. He is determined to get attention for himself, and he continuously raises the number of missions that the men must fly to obtain leave. In the end, he makes a dirty deal with Yossarian to try to cover up his illegal number of missions.

Major Major

A shy, awkward boy misnamed by his cruel father. This Henry Fonda lookalike is promoted by Colonel Cathcart to squadron commander and is banished away to a trailer where he is forced to sign piles of useless papers. Eventually, he pretends to be "Washington Irving" and pits the two C.I.D. men against each other for his own amusement.

Sergeant Towser

Major Major's assistant.

Captain Black

Another cold-blooded officer. He starts the Glorious Loyalty Crusade to get back at Major Major. Eventually, his idol, Major -- de Coverley puts an end to such foolishness.

Colonel Korn

Colonel Cathcart's competitor and sometimes sidekick. He is just as cruel as Colonel Cathcart, although he is more inclined to admit to his stupidity sooner. He also joins Colonel Cathcart in trying to coerce Yossarian into making the dirty deal to cover up the illegal number of missions.

Nurse Cramer

A puritanical nurse who diligently cleans the soldier in white. Yossarian suspects that she killed the soldier in white because she is the one who discovers that he has died. She is a good friend of Nurse Duckett, but she strongly disapproves of Nurse Duckett's love affair with Yossarian.

Nurse Duckett

One of the nurses in the ward who is a good friend of Nurse Cramer. She despises Yossarian at first, but later, she pursues a passionate fling with him. She enjoys flirting with the other men, but she eventually leaves Yossarian for a doctor.

The Soldier in White

A soldier encased entirely in white bandages. He is attached to two zinc jars, one to feed him and one to collect his waste. When the latter is full, the jars are switched. Both Nurses Cramer and Duckett vigilantly watch over him. Nobody talks to him except the overfriendly Texan, and the soldier in white never replies. When he dies, Yossarian suspects both the Texan and Nurse Cramer of murdering him. He reappears a second time, much to everyone's alarm, and when Dunbar claims that no one is inside, the doctors "disappear" him.

Giuseppe

The soldier who sees everything twice. Yossarian imitates him to avoid leaving the ward. After he dies, Yossarian impersonates him.

Luciana

A beautiful young woman with whom Yossarian falls madly in love when he goes to Rome. However, he foolishly tears up her address after she leaves him, and, despite a frenetic search, Yossarian never sees her again.

The maid in lime-colored panties

A woman who will sleep with any man, regardless of creed, color, or religion. Yossarian goes to bed with her after he cannot find Luciana. Later, as Rome is being destroyed, Aarfy rapes her and throws her out a window.

Nately's whore

The woman with whom Nately falls passionately in love when he meets her in an apartment in Rome. She treats him with apathy and resents his attempts to regulate her life. When Yossarian hits Nately in the nose and tells her the news of Nately's death, she becomes extremely vindictive. After doggedly following him back to his camp, she tries to kill him with a butcher knife.

Nately's whore's kid sister

The whore's younger twelve-year-old sister. She constantly imitates her big sister and follows her around. After everyone is driven out of Rome, Yossarian returns to look for her.

Nately's old man

A disgusting old man Nately meets. He is guilty of having thrown the firecracker that claimed Major -- de Coverley's eye. He is strongly anti-American and pro-Italian, and his ugly, grotesque features painfully remind Nately of his own father, who is handsome and well-mannered.

Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife

A sensual woman who sleeps with many officers. Yossarian particularly enjoys having an affair with her to get revenge on Lieutenant Scheisskopf for his cruel treatment of Clevinger.

C.I.D. man

An official sent by the government to investigate the mysterious "Washington Irving," a pseudonym used by Yossarian when censoring the enlisted men's letters.

Second C.I.D. man

Another official sent to investigate "Washington Irving," the pseudonym used by Major Major to sign useless memorandums. Major Major pits the two men against each other for his own amusement.

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