protagonist and hero of the novel. Yossarian is a captain in the
Air Force and a lead bombardier in his squadron, but he hates the
war. His powerful desire to live has led him to the conclusion that
millions of people are trying to kill him, and he has decided either to
live forever or, ironically, die trying.
in-depth analysis of Yossarian.
A fantastically powerful mess officer, Milo controls
an international black-market syndicate and is revered in obscure
corners all over the world. He ruthlessly chases after profit and
bombs his own men as part of a contract with Germany. Milo insists
that everyone in the squadron will benefit from being part of the
syndicate and that “everyone has a share.” He also takes his job
as mess officer very, very seriously; as a result, the troops in
Yossarian’s division eat better than any others.
in-depth analysis of Milo Minderbinder.
medical officer. Doc Daneeka feels very sorry for himself because
the war has interrupted his lucrative private practice in the United
States, and he refuses to listen to other people’s problems. Doc Daneeka
is the first person to explain Catch-22 to Yossarian.
friend of Yossarian. Timid and thoughtful, the chaplain is haunted
by a sensation of déjà vu (the feeling of having seen or experienced
a particular thing before) and begins to lose his faith in God as
the novel progresses.
The ambitious, unintelligent officer in charge of Yossarian’s
squadron. Colonel Cathcart wants to be a general, and he tries to
impress his superiors by bravely volunteering his men for dangerous
combat duty whenever he gets the chance. As he tries to scheme his way
ahead, he considers successful actions “feathers in his cap” and
unsuccessful ones “black eyes.”
unhinged member of Yossarian’s squadron. A former photographer for Life
Hungry Joe is obsessed with photographing naked women. He has horrible
nightmares on nights when he is not
fly a combat mission the next morning.
good-natured nineteen-year-old boy in Yossarian’s squadron. Nately,
who comes from a wealthy home, falls in love with a whore in Rome
and generally tries to keep Yossarian from getting into trouble.
beautiful whore with whom Nately falls in love in Rome.
cheerful, polite pilot who often flies Yossarian’s planes. McWatt
likes to joke around with Yossarian and sometimes buzzes the squadron.
idealistic member of Yossarian’s squadron. Clevinger firmly believes
in such concepts as country, loyalty, and duty, and argues about
them with Yossarian.
co-pilot, Dobbs seizes the controls from Huple during the mission
to Avignon, the same mission on which Snowden died.
friend of Yossarian and the only other person who seems to understand
that there is a war going on. Dunbar has decided to live as long
as possible by making time pass as slowly as possible, so he treasures boredom
Major Major Major Major
The supremely mediocre squadron commander. Born
Major Major Major, he is promoted to major on his first day in the
army by a mischievous computer. Major Major is painfully awkward
and will see people in his office only when he is not there. His promotion
to squadron commander distances him from the other soldiers, reducing
him to loneliness.
Major —— de Coverley
The fierce, intense executive officer of the squadron.
Major —— de Coverley is revered and feared by the men. They are
afraid to ask his first name, even though all he does is play horseshoes
and rent apartments for the officers in cities taken by American forces.
navigator, even though he gets lost wherever he goes. Aarfy infuriates
Yossarian by pretending that he cannot hear Yossarian’s orders during
often-maddening roommate. Orr is a gifted fix-it man who is always
constructing little improvements to the tent that he shares with
Yossarian. He almost always crashes his plane or is shot down on combat
missions, but he always manages to survive.
handsome, athletic member of the squadron and a superhuman Ping-Pong
player. Orr enigmatically says that Appleby has flies in his eyes.
squadron’s bitter intelligence officer. Captain Black wants nothing
more than to be squadron commander. He exults in the men’s discomfort
and does everything he can to increase it; when Nately falls in
love with a whore in Rome, Captain Black begins to buy her services
regularly just to taunt him.
Lieutenant Colonel Korn
Colonel Cathcart’s wily, cynical sidekick.
timid operations officer. Before the war, Danby was a college professor;
now, he does his best for his country.
A grumpy old general in charge of the wing in which
Yossarian’s squadron is placed. General Dreedle is the victim of
a private war waged against him by the ambitious General Peckem.
nurse in the Pianosa hospital who becomes Yossarian’s lover.
Chief White Halfoat
An alcoholic Native American from Oklahoma who has
decided to die of pneumonia.
fearless lead bombardier. Havermeyer never takes evasive action,
and he enjoys shooting field mice at night.
fifteen-year-old pilot who was flying the mission to Avignon on
which Snowden was killed. Huple is Hungry Joe’s roommate; his cat
likes to sleep on Hungry Joe’s face.
A famous American author whose name Yossarian signs
to letters during one of his many stays in the hospital. Eventually,
military intelligence believes Washington Irving to be the name
of a covert insubordinate, and two C.I.D. (Criminal
Investigation Division) men are dispatched to ferret him out of the squadron.
beautiful girl Yossarian meets, sleeps with, and falls in love with
during a brief period in Rome.
referred to as “the dead man in Yossarian’s tent,” Mudd was a squadron
member who was killed in action before he could be processed as
an official member of the squadron. As a result, he is listed as never
having arrived, and no one has the authority to move his belongings
out of Yossarian’s tent.
Later a colonel and eventually a general. Scheisskopf,
whose name is German for “shithead,” helps train Yossarian’s squadron
in America and shows an unsettling passion for elaborate military
The soldier in white
A body completely covered with bandages in Yossarian
and Dunbar’s ward in the Pianosa hospital. The body terrifies the
young gunner whose death over Avignon shattered Yossarian’s courage
and caused him to experience the shock of war. Snowden died in Yossarian’s
arms with his entrails splattered all over Yossarian’s uniform,
a trauma that is gradually revealed over the course of the novel.
The chaplain’s atheist assistant, and later a sergeant.
Corporal Whitcomb hates the chaplain for holding back his career
and makes the chaplain a suspect in the Washington Irving scandal.
The mail clerk at the Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters,
Wintergreen is able to intercept and forge documents and thus wields
enormous power in the Air Force. He continually goes AWOL (Absent Without
Leave) and is continually punished with loss of rank.
ambitious special operations general who plots incessantly to take
over General Dreedle’s position.
pilot in the squadron.
Dreedle’s son-in-law. General Dreedle despises Colonel Moodus and
enjoys watching Chief White Halfoat bust him in the nose.
White Halfoat’s old roommate, who is so afraid of having his throat
slit while he sleeps that he has taken to living in the forest.
Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife
The lieutenant’s wife and the lover of all the men
in her husband’s squadron, including Yossarian, with whom she debates