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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Colonel Cathcart

The squadron commander who aims to be promoted to general. He constantly raises the number of missions that the men must fly and thereby helps glorify himself. He volunteers his squadron for the most difficult missions. He is willing to use anything, even religion, to get publicity for himself. He asks the chaplain to conduct prayer meetings before each mission, so that he can get his name into The Saturday Evening Post. He is unscrupulous and lies when he appears as a witness during the interrogation of the chaplain.

Doc Daneeka

Serves as chief medical officer for the squadron. He has the authority to send Yossarian home, but he turns down Yossarian’s pleas by citing "Catch 22." He tells Yossarian: "We live in an age of distrust and deteriorating spiritual values." He is afraid of flying and has his name forged onto different flight manifests in order for him to collect enough flight time each month. This leads the air force bureaucracy to believe that he is killed in the plane crash along with McWatt. Doc Daneeka’s life is determined by bureaucracy and official records.

Hungry Joe

Is sex-crazy and war-crazy. He takes nude photos of young prostitutes which never come out. He has flown more combat tours than any other in the Air Force. He suffers from nightmares whenever he is off-duty, and settles down into "a normal state of terror" when back on duty. He dies in his sleep. Unlike Yossarian, Joe eagerly awaits each new mission.

McWatt

Yossarian describes McWatt as "the craziest combat man of them all, probably because he was perfectly sane as still did not mind the war." McWatt loves flying his plane as low as possible . He takes frightful risks which lead to the deaths of Kid Sampson and himself.


Major Major

Due to a computer error he is promoted to major. Though successful in his career, he is shunned by all the soldiers in the squadron and becomes a recluse. Major Major avoids meeting anyone in his office by jumping out of the window.

Milo Minderbinder

The mess sergeant who runs a huge black market operation. He even accepts money from the Nazis to bomb his own squadron and comes through unscathed when he proves to the senate investigation committee that this operation profits the capitalist side. He is an entrepreneurial genius and regards war as a mere mercenary business. The scale of his operation is mind boggling. He even sells shares in his company to the airman at Pianosa.

Heller satirizes the vast American potential for individual entrepreneurship in a capitalistic market through the amazing commercial adventures of Milo. Heller also ridicules Milo’s pretentious patriotism when he describes how Milo names the planes he uses for his black-marketing operations "Courage," "Truth," "Justice," "Liberty," "Love," "Honor," and "Patriotism." Other airmen are made to fly missions which are put on Milo’s record. Milo is not averse to removing parachutes and life saving devices from combat aircraft. He leaves behind messages like "What’s good for M&M Enterprises is good for the country." This is a parallel to President Eisenhower’s Defense Secretary Charles Wilson’s statement, "What’s good for general Motors is good for the country and vice-versa."

Chaplain A. T. Tappman

The shy and unsure group chaplain. He understands the plight of Yossarian and his fellow airmen and tries to help them by speaking on their behalf to the commanding officers. However, he is not successful since Major Major refuses to see him and Colonel Cathcart intimidates him. He is falsely accused of being "Washington lrving." He remains faithful to Yossarian and even helps him escape. He is a sensitive person who realizes that there is too much unhappiness in the world. In the end, the chaplain asserts himself and is even willing to punch Major Danby should he try to stop Yossarian from escaping.

Captain John Yossarian

The antithesis of a conventional hero; but he is not an anti-hero since he is not petty, ignominious, ineffectual, or passive . He is an individual fighting for survival in a system that wishes to annihilate him. Yossarian believes that he is likely to die for the glory of the commanding officers; he tries to escape death by feigning illness and even insanity. He is only partially successful and he has to return to duty after a few days in hospital .

Yossarian is haunted by memories of his fellow airmen who have died on earlier missions. The deaths of Kraft, Mudd, and Snowden have affected him adversely. Throughout the novel, Yossarian appears to be on edge. He loses his nerve on the mission to Bologna and orders that the plane turn back. After Snowden’s death, he refuses to wear his uniform, since Snowden has bled to death in his arms. Yossarian desperately searches for a female companion, but most of his endeavors end in Roman brothels . His relationships with women are brief and unsatisfactory. Toward the end of the novel, Yossarian accepts Korn’s deal, but soon changes his mind and stands up for what is right. He needs to escape to keep his sanity. He is already a war hero, having flown over seventy missions, risking his life for his country.

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