Notes on Characters from Catch-22

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Catch-22 Major Characters

Chaplain A. T. Tappman (Albert Taylor): An Anabaptist minister who is shy and self-conscious. He lives on the woodsy outskirts of camp and is pushed around by officials and his own assistant, Whitcomb. Homesick and submissive, he longs for his wife and is grateful for Yossarian’s friendship. He often pleads with higher ranking officials on Yossarian’s behalf to stop raising the number of missions and to send the men home. He has a burst of confidence at the end when Yossarian decides to escape to Sweden. The chaplain vows to stand up to authority and to persevere.

Colonel Cathcart : A conceited and dejected colonel who constantly tries to garner attention and desperately wants to be a general. Cathcart is the main antagonist of the novel because he volunteers his men for dangerous assignments and constantly raises the number of missions in a tour of duty to break records. He carries a cigarette holder to make him look sophisticated and is obsessed with getting his picture in The Saturday Evening Post. Cathcart is plagued by a persecution complex and constantly tallies up pros and cons as 'feathers in his cap' and 'black eyes.' Because Cathcart unfairly raises the number of missions, Yossarian and Dobbs consider assassinating him. Cathcart offers Yossarian a deal: if Yossarian will praise him to officers and the public back in the states, Cathcart will send Yossarian home.

Doc Daneeka: The bitter flight surgeon who resentfully avoids his duties in the medical tent. He is bitter that the war took him away from a newly lucrative medical practice back in the states. Yossarian asks the doctor to ground him on the basis of insanity. Doc Daneeka explains that it is impossible and is the first to introduce Yossarian to Catch-22. Daneeka is afraid to fly. He asks McWatt to record his name on the pilot’s flight log so he can draw flight pay without actually going up in a plane. He is presumed dead when McWatt crashes. Irrationally, nobody heeds his claim that he is still alive and his wife is sent a generic death notice.

Dunbar: Yossarian’s mischievous friend who cultivates boredom to increase his life-span. Dunbar stirs up trouble, fondling nurses with Yossarian and inciting a riot in the hospital over the soldier in white. Officials cause Dunbar to mysteriously 'disappear' before Yossarian can warn him of the impending trouble.

Hungry Joe: The screaming, lustful hero of the air force. He has flown more missions (six complete tours of duty!) than any one else. Orders sending him home are constantly overturned when Cathcart raises the number of required missions, and he consequently goes nuts. Terrifying nightmares plague him nightly as Huple’s suffocating cat sits on his face. He is obsessed with women and voraciously photographs the whores in Rome. He finally dies when Yossarian is in the hospital, suffocated in his sleep by Huple’s cat.

Milo Minderbinder: : The mess hall officer who creates an international trade syndicate in which everyone has a share. The entrepreneur is hugely successful and is elected to various public offices in countries along his trade route. Milo conspires with the Germans to bomb his own unit for profit and sells mission plans to the enemy. M & M Enterprises nearly collapses when Milo purchases a whole crop of Egyptian cotton. He tries to feed the cotton to troops in the mess halls by covering it with chocolate. Milo rationalizes everything by profit potential and convinces the army to support him because the syndicate is owned in part by everyone.

Nately: A rich, gentle, polite, good looking young man who looks out for Yossarian and is deeply in love with a whore. Yossarian breaks his nose when he tries to stop Yossarian from killing some pranksters on Thanksgiving. Patriotic and idealistic, he is deeply agitated when the old man in the brothel makes disparaging jokes about America. Nately finishes his missions but signs on for more because he is desperate to stay near his beloved whore. He wants to marry her, even though his wealthy father will disapprove. Nately is tragically killed on one of these extra missions, and his death deeply affects the chaplain and Yossarian.

Nately’s whore : An apathetic whore in Rome with whom Nately is deeply in love. She has a surly twelve-year-old kid sister who tries to imitate her. The whore cares little for Nately until he rescues her from captivity in an apartment rented by some rowdy officers and tucks her safely into bed. She hates Yossarian (probably for breaking Nately’s nose) and savagely tries to kill him when he tells her of Nately’s death. She ferociously batters Yossarian and threatens him with a kitchen knife. When he escapes her wrath in Rome and returns to Pianosa, she stalks him everywhere he goes. Disguised as a private, she eventually stabs him. When he escapes from the hospital on his way to Sweden, she jumps out at him again and Yossarian narrowly misses her deadly blow.

Orr: Yossarian’s warm-hearted roommate, whose inventions (like a wood-burning stove) make their tent the most luxurious in the squadron. The unlucky, buck-toothed freak crash-lands on every mission. He asks Yossarian to fly with him, but Yossarian refuses. Everyone things Orr is simple-minded because he stuffs his fat cheeks with apples and constantly brings up a whore who once battered his head with a shoe in Rome. His pretend ignorance is actually a cover and the frequent crashes are really practice for his escape to Sweden. He wanted Yossarian to join him, but his roommate never took the hint.

Snowden: A radio-gunner who is killed during the Avignon mission. His guts spilled onto Yossarian in the back of the plane while he bled and froze to death. Snowden’s gory death haunts Yossarian. The chaplain conducts Snowden’s funeral and Yossarian walks around naked for a while, refusing to wear the uniform once soaked in Snowden’s blood.

Yossarian: The main character of the novel. Yossarian is a paranoid bombardier who thinks everyone is trying to kill him. He avoids flying combat missions by all means possible: by moving the bomb line on the map of Italy preceding the Bologna mission, by poisoning the squadron’s potatoes, by dismantling his intercom and ordering his plane to turn back, and by feigning a liver condition to pass the time safely in the hospital. Snowden’s gory death traumatizes Yossarian and he refuses to wear his uniform, preferring instead to go naked. He even appears nude in formation to accept a medal from Colonel Cathcart for the disaster over Ferrara. During that fatal mission, Kraft was killed because Yossarian swung back over the targeted bridge for a second pass. Yossarian asks to be grounded on the basis of insanity and rebelliously refuses to fly more missions. Because his disobedience harms army morale, Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn offer him a deal: if Yossarian will praise his commanding officers, he will be sent home. Yossarian eventually rejects the detestable bargain and runs away to join Orr in Sweden.

Minor Characters

Appleby: A patriotic, fair-haired Ping-Pong champion from Iowa. He excels at everything and everyone likes him. Yossarian despises him. Appleby reports Yossarian for refusing to take Atabrine tablets. He is a hot-shot and wants to be the best pilot in the air force.

Captain Black: He gloats when the men are sent on the risky mission to Bologna and is bitter that Major Major was promoted to squadron commander instead of himself. Black was responsible for the preposterous Loyalty Oath crusade, in which everyone was required to sign a statement of allegiance in order to obtain dinner, gear, or to perform any mundane or necessary task. The crabby captain sleeps with Nately’s whore just to tick Nately off. A big jerk, his favorite saying is 'eat your liver.'

C.I.D. Men : From the Criminal Investigation Department. They probe the 'Washington Irving' forgery incidents and are often undercover in the hospital. Their investigations lead to the interrogation of the chaplain for falsifying documents.

Captain Flume: The squadron public relations officer who is terrified that Chief White Halfoat will slit his throat during the night. He retreats into the forest and lives in the wild, refusing to come out until Halfoat dies of pneumonia. Fierce and filthy, the chaplain meets him on the edge of the forest one day and mistakes him for a prophet.

Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren: The joint squadron operations officers. Both are mild and soft-spoken and they love to fly missions. Because they are in charge of flight assignments, Yossarian fatefully instructs them to keep him out of Orr’s unlucky plane.

Chief White Halfoat: The Native American chief intelligence officer who can neither read nor write. His family was constantly forced to move around when oil was struck on their land. He bitterly hates foreigners and wants revenge on the white man. Halfoat threatens to slit his roommate Flume’s throat and correctly predicts his own death from pneumonia.

Colonel Cargill: General Peckem’s forceful and incompetent right-hand man. He is jealous when Scheisskopf joins the outfit under Peckem.

Corporal Snark: Milo’s first chef who is bitter to be cooking for tasteless army heathens. He poisons the sweet potatoes with GI soap to delay the Bologna mission when Yossarian asks him to.

Corporal Whitcomb: The chaplain’s over-sensitive assistant. He wants to institute a generic condolence letter system and is angry with the chaplain for resisting the idea. He supplies visiting C.I.D. men with evidence against the chaplain and accuses the chaplain of stealing Colonel Cathcart’s plum tomato.

Dori Duz: The horny friend of Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s horny wife. Yossarian lusts after her during cadet training but settles for Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife instead.

Wintergreen: An ex-P.F.C. (Private First Class). He constantly looses his status by repeatedly going AWOL (absent without official leave). All of the officials look to Wintergreen for inside tips and advice. He is considered the most influential man in the army because he controls the mail and helps no one but himself.

Gus and Wes: Two guys who systematically run Doc Daneeka’s medical tent. They paint patients’ gums and toes violet and hand out laxatives, regardless of the patients’ symptoms.

Havermeyer: The best bombardier in the whole squadron. He likes peanut brittle, never misses a target, and never takes evasive action. Doc Daneeka advises Yossarian to stop his rebellious complaining and to instead behave more like Havermeyer.

Huple: A fifteen-year-old pilot who lied about his age to get into the army. His pet cat tortures and suffocates his roommate, Hungry Joe. Dobbs does not trust Huple’s piloting skills and seizes the controls away from him, sending the plane into a dangerous plunge that plasters Yossarian to the ceiling.

Kid Sampson: A young pilot torn in half by a propeller when the prankster McWatt buzzes the beach in a foolish flying stunt. During the mission to Bologna, Yossarian orders Kid Samson to turn the plane back when the intercom supposedly malfunctions.

Kid sister: The sullen twelve-year-old copy-cat sister of Nately’s whore. She is lost on the streets of Rome when the whores are turned out of their brothel. Yossarian searches earnestly for her and vows to find her before escaping to Sweden.

Kraft: A young man in Yossarian’s plane who was killed in the disaster over Ferrara when Yossarian swung back over the target for a second pass. Though Yossarian is blamed for the loss, the colonels cover up the incident by awarding Yossarian a medal.

Luciana: The presumptuous girl in Rome with an invisible scar on her back. She and Yossarian have an affair and Yossarian impulsively asks her to marry him. He crumples up her address but later tries desperately to find her.

Major Danby: The officer in charge of synchronizing watches at mission briefings. He moaned unconsciously after Yossarian’s moaning insurrection and General Dreedle ordered men to kill him. Though never carried out, Danby was terrified and never the same again. He helps Yossarian escape at the end by providing money, keeping his mouth shut, and saving Yossarian from the whore’s surprise knife blow.

Major Sanderson: The staff psychiatrist at the hospital, who is plagued by feelings of inadequacy and rejection. He analyzes Yossarian’s phony fish dream and diagnoses him as insane. Yossarian believes the diagnosis will be his ticket home, but another man is sent back to the states in his place by mistake.

Mudd (a.k.a. The Dead Man in Yossarian’s Tent): A replacement pilot killed in combat before he had officially reported for duty. His belongings lay for months on the cot in Yossarian’s tent where he left them on the day he arrived and died. Yossarian and Sergeant Towser do not know how to handle the dead man in Yossarian’s tent because no one feels qualified to dispose of Mudd’s belongings. Yossarian’s new roommates move in and solve the problem by abruptly whisking Mudd’s things out of the tent.

Nurse Cramer: Nurse Duckett’s best friend at the army hospital. She cares for the men sternly and changes the jars for the soldier in white. She disapproves of Duckett’s affair with Yossarian.

Nurse Duckett: The pretty, good-hearted, sentimental nurse that Yossarian has an affair with. She dumps Yossarian in hopes of marrying a doctor and urgently warns him that officials are planning to 'disappear' Dunbar.

Old Man : The stinky, disheveled old man in the brothel in Rome. He poked Major ---- de Coverly in the eye with a red rose. His unfavorable jokes about America greatly distress Nately.

Sergeant Towser: Major Major’s office administrator. He is commanded never to admit anyone to see Major Major unless Major Major is not there. He carries out this illogical order to the frustration of Major Major’s visitors. Towser ineffectually ponders the problem of the dead man in Yossarian’s tent.

The Soldier in White: A broken, burned-up man in a complete plaster body cast. The nurses take his temperature and change the food and waste jars connected to him with a pipe. Dunbar incites a commotion at the hospital when he sees him again and shouts, 'He’s back!'

The Texan: The overly-friendly patient who annoys all the men in the hospital ward and causes them to leave. He is the only person who will speak to the mummified soldier in white.

Washington Irving: An American essayist, novelist and historian who lived from 1783 to1859. Yossarian forges Irving’s name to official documents when he is on censoring-duty during a hospital stay. Major Major picks up the forgery habit, too, signing 'Washington Irving' to all official correspondence that comes across his desk. C.I.D. men investigate and accuse the chaplain of being the mysterious Washington Irving impostor. Their incriminating evidence is a letter the chaplain wrote to his wife, which bears the Irving forgery. Yossarian is actually to blame, since he censored that very letter and inscribed the controversial signature himself.

Dobbs: The jumpy co-pilot who tries to enlist Yossarian’s help in plans to assassinate Colonel Cathcart. He abandons the murder-plot when he completes his tour of duty. Even though he has finished his missions, he is sent up in emergency combat and dies in a crash with Nately.

Aarfy: Yossarian’s plump, oblivious, infuriating navigator who has a poor sense of direction. He intrudes into the nose of the plane and gets in Yossarian’s way. When Yossarian’s leg is wounded by a blast of flak, Aarfy cannot hear Yossarian’s cries for help and dumbly offers no help. A past fraternity boy, he often boasts that he never has to pay whores for sex. He rapes a poor servant girl in Rome and murders her by pushing her out the window.

Clevinger: An ingenious Harvard grad who is the first to call Yossarian crazy. He is picked on in cadet training by Lieutenant Scheisskopf, who brings him up on contrived charges before the Action Board. Clevinger is presumed dead when his plane disappears.

General Dreedle: A general who hates his rival, Peckem, and likes to beat up on his son-in-law, Colonel Moodus. He opens up the skeet courts and wants the men to play daily because target shooting is good practice.

General Peckem: A scholarly neat-freak who competes with General Dreedle. Hoping to gain control over multiple army divisions, he sends out wordy, grammatically-correct memoranda to army headquarters asking that his combat operations unit be put under Special Services. Peckem’s plan backfires. The army finally complies with his suggestion, but only after instating Scheisskopf as head of Special Services and thus making Sheisskopf his new commanding officer.

Lieutenant Colonel Korn: Colonel Cathcart’s hard-nosed, take-charge, right-hand man. Korn sucks-up to the generals and Cathcart is jealous of him. Both Cathcart and Korn arrange a deal with Yossarian, promising to give Yossarian his freedom in exchange for praise and glorification.

Lieutenant Scheisskopf: Originally the officer at Yossarian and Clevinger’s cadet school in Santa Ana, California. He is a parade fanatic and reinstates his beloved marches when he is later shipped over to Pianosa. He ascends the ranks quickly, much to the distress of General Peckem.

Major ---- de Coverly: The awe-inspiring, regal squadron executive officer whose duties consist of pitching horseshoes and renting apartments for enlisted men and officers to use on rest leaves. Intimidating and unapproachable, no one even knows his first name! He wears an eye-patch because an old man poked him with a red rose in Rome.

Major Major Major : A reclusive Henry Fonda look-alike who was promoted to the rank of major by an IBM computer glitch. He jumps out of his window to avoid visitors and spends the better part of each day forging Washington Irving’s name to official documents.

McWatt: A pilot in Yossarian’s plane who bandages Yossarian’s leg wound. His flying antics accidentally mutilate Kid Sampson. Traumatized, he deliberately flies into a mountain, commiting suicide.

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