List of ''Catch-22'' characters

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

Significant characters

  • Yossarian

Captain John Yossarian is a fictional character in Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 and its sequel Closing Time, and the protagonist of both books. In Catch-22, Yossarian is a 28-year-old Captain and B-25 bombardier in the 256th Bombardment Squadron of the Army Air Corps, 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.

  • Chaplain Tappman

Tappman (also called R. O. Shipman in some editions) is a naïve Anabaptist minister from Kenosha, Wisconsin, who is tormented throughout the novel by his rude, manipulative atheist assistant, Corporal Whitcomb. 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.

  • Colonel Cathcart

A full colonel, Chuck 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 required 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 number again.

  • Doctor Daneeka

Dr. Dan Daneeka is the squadron flight surgeon and a friend of the novel's protagonist, Yossarian. Doc Daneeka's main motivation is for his own welfare, whether 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

First Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder 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 and profit is generated. Milo even begins contracting missions for the Germans, fighting on both sides in the battle at Orvieto and bombing his own squadron.

  • 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 in the book is his involvement with a whore, "Nately's Whore," who is for the most part uninterested in him until he saves her from a sleepless night with generals and so she gets an opportunity to get some sleep. He is often filled with American optimism, shown by his desire to marry his whore and send her kid sister to a respected college in the United States. He is killed on a mission when Dobbs flies his plane into Nately's. Nately's Whore blames Yossarian and spends the rest of the book trying to murder him.

  • Orr

A bomber pilot in the squadron who is continually being shot down and having to crash land in the sea. Described as "a warm-hearted, simple-minded gnome," Orr is the only person in the group considered to be crazier than his good friend Yossarian, with whom he shares a tent. He is declared MIA halfway through the book after crashing his plane in the Mediterranean but by the end it's revealed that he had rowed to the neutral zone in Sweden to escape the army, at which point Yossarian realizes that Orr's constant crashes had been part of his plan. Orr's survival inspires Yossarian to finally escape the army.

  • Snowden

Snowden is a radio-gunner, a member of Yossarian's crew; when their aircraft is hit by anti-aircraft fire and Snowden is wounded, Yossarian attempts to treat his visible wounds, but misses a terrible, fatal, wound hidden by his clothing. Snowden's death acts as the catalyst for the change in Yossarian's mentality.

  • Captain Aardvaark

Captain Aardvaark (called Aarfy) is the navigator in Yossarian's B-25 bomber (but only when Yossarian is flying in the lead ship – hence Aarfy's sporadic appearances in the air in the novel). He is oblivious to incoming flak, repeatedly gets lost on missions, and always smokes a pipe. He befriends Nately in the hope of working for Nately's wealthy father after the war. Aarfy sees himself as moral and protects well-connected women from the sexual advances of other officers, but he ends up raping and murdering the innocent maid Michaela, and when asked by Yossarian why he didn't simply hire a prostitute, repeats his common admonition that "Old Aarfy has never paid for it." He shows no remorse for these crimes until he begins to worry that he might be brought to justice for them.

Other characters

  • Appleby – 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 with minimal effort 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 in this by the appointment of Major Major to the position. 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 your 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. Black is a paranoid anti-Communist and pressures all the men to take loyalty oaths, but out of personal spite prevents Major Major from taking one. He is also notable for deliberately seeking out Nately's Whore on his visits to Rome, and gleefully describing these meetings to Nately.
  • Colonel Cargill – Before the war 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.
  • Clevinger – A highly principled, highly educated man who acts as Yossarian's foil within the story. His optimistic view of the world causes Yossarian to consider him to be a "dope," and he and Yossarian each believe the other to be crazy. During basic training he is brought to trial and found guilty on phony charges by Lt. Scheisskopf. His plane mysteriously vanishes in a cloud and he's never seen again.
  • Nurse Cramer – Nurse Duckett's best friend. After Nurse Duckett starts a relationship with Yossarian, puritanical Nurse Cramer stops speaking to her.
  • Major Danby – An intellectual college professor with a passive and somewhat melancholic yet serene outlook on life who sees himself as a poor match for the armed services due to his lack of aggression. He briefs the airmen on upcoming missions and often acts as a mediator for disputes between enlisted men and as a confidant to most of the officers.
  • Mrs. Daneeka Doc Daneeka's wife. When the doctor is mistakenly declared dead after listing himself fraudulently on a flight manifest for a doomed flight, she finds herself suddenly rich and widowed, and moves away, leaving no forwarding address.
  • Major —— de Coverley – Major —— de Coverley has a terrifying visage in the Biblical tradition, so much so that men will do his desires without his 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 apartments for the soldiers on rest leave, and kidnapping Italian laborers to help around the base. His frequent appearance during the fall of major cities makes him an object of interest to intelligence agencies on both sides, neither of which can 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. Despite this, he is generally apathetic to the war effort (having lost all drive after he was made General and he found he had "nothing more to aim for") and now mostly busies himself with harassing his son-in-law, Colonel Moodus. 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-P.F.C. 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. He plots to kill Colonel Cathcart but will only do it if Yossarian tells him it's a good idea, which Yossarian never does. He dies in the mid-air crash that kills Nately.
  • 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 – An airman stationed at the same base as Yossarian, on the island of Pianosa. He and Yossarian seem to have similar personalities, and so they make fast friends. Like Yossarian, Dunbar's chief goal is to prolong his life to whatever extent possible, often by cultivating boredom. He frequently accompanies Yossarian in the hospital, faking injuries to stay out of combat like his friend does. He is later 'disappeared' by the army when he becomes rebellious and unstable.
  • 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 jokingly threatens to slit Flume's throat open from ear to ear. He spends most of the book living like a hermit in the woods, which gradually drives him insane.
  • Giuseppe (the soldier who sees everything twice) – A delirious soldier who creates a panic in the hospital by shouting, "I see everything twice!" Yossarian imitates him (by seeing two fingers regardless of whether a doctor holds up one, two, or none) and later impersonates him when he dies. The soldier's family does not notice that Yossarian is not their son.
  • Gus & Wes – Doc Daneeka's two orderlies, whose main activity is to paint airmen's gums and toes purple with gentian violet solution. Daneeka hates them because they refuse to declare him ill so that he can go home.
  • 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 insists on flying his plane dead straight to, over, and past the target despite any anti-aircraft fire he receives. Yossarian despises him because of his insistence in putting his (Yossarian's) life at stake.
  • Huple – A fifteen-year-old pilot who lied about his age to get into the Army, and who shares a tent with Hungry Joe on the wrong side of the railway tracks. He is shy and nervous but thoroughly idealistic and patriotic, which is why Yossarian feels sorry for him, feeling he'll probably die too young. He has a cat that constantly sleeps on Hungry Joe's face.
  • Hungry Joe – A perverted soldier who 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 none of his pictures developed correctly). He is the only pilot who consistently finished the required number of missions (but was forced to continue flying as his paperwork was always delayed until the flight limit was elevated) and has screaming nightmares until he's ordered back onto combat status. He dies when he's suffocated by Huple's cat.
  • 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 despised assistant. He erroneously reports that Bologna has been captured by the Allies after Yossarian surreptitiously redraws the lines on the battle map.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Korn – Colonel Cathcart's intellectual assistant and right-hand man. Korn appears along Cathcart throughout the novel and it becomes clear to the reader that Korn does most of the thinking and most of the work for Cathcart, who only takes the credit. Korn is portrayed as much more relaxed and less ostentatious than his superior, but much more sadistic and cynical. Much like Cathcart he has ambitions for higher military ranks but chooses to be below Cathcart and remain outside the limelight so that, if something goes wrong, Cathcart will take the fall instead of him.
  • Kraft – A man killed at the bombing of a bridge at Ferrara. Yossarian blames himself, as he ordered the planes back after they missed the first time.
  • Luciana – A woman whom Yossarian briefly dates in Rome and whom he spends a great deal of the second half of the book looking for, without success.
  • Major Major Major – The squadron commander of the base in Pianosa, who was named Major Major by his father as a joke passing up the lesser possibilities of "Drum Major, Minor Major, Sergeant Major, or C Sharp Major" and was later made a Major by an IBM machine with a sense of humor. He is disliked by most of the enlisted men in Pianosa because he was promoted so suddenly and he chooses to remain isolated from the other people at the base, letting Sergeant Towser handle the operations of the base. He doesn't allow people to see him in his office while he is in his office, they can only see him when he isn't there.
  • McWatt – The pilot of Yossarian's plane and one of his closest friends. A young man who appears to be very calm and serene and whom Yossarian considers to be crazy because he remains sane during the war. However, he conceals his increasing panic and madness, which eventually erupts after he accidentally kills Kid Sampson, driving him to suicide by crashing his plane into a mountain.
  • Michaela – The poor, plain, simple-minded, hard-working young maid who works in the apartments where Yossarian and his unit stay while in Rome. She is a sweet and innocent girl who doesn't speak English and whom the enlisted men mostly leave alone, except when they mock her in English so she can't understand them. She is raped and murdered by Aarfy, who simply dismisses the murder as inconsequential because he's "good old Aarfy, who never pays for it".
  • Colonel Moodus – General Dreedle's son-in-law, whom the general hates and constantly tries to harass and have demoted.
  • Lieutenant Mudd – More frequently referred to as "the dead man in Yossarian's tent," Mudd was killed in action before officially joining the squadron. Due to the bureaucratic uncertainty over the status of Mudd, no one will accept responsibility for Mudd and his belongings, and Sergeant Towser refuses to believe the man existed at all.
  • Lieutenant (later Colonel and eventually General) Scheisskopf – Scheisskopf is the training unit commander for Yossarian and Clevinger, and he takes a particular dislike to Clevinger. Even though Clevinger is just as serious about 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."
  • General Peckem – A pompous, pretentious and highly delusional general who desperately wants to take over General Dreedle's post as the superior commanding officer of Pianosa. Because of this ambition, he has a vicious rivalry with Dreedle and constantly tries to undermine him and have him demoted. His attempts are mostly thwarted without his knowledge by desk clerk ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen, who enjoys making Peckem look foolish.
  • Piltchard and 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 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.
  • Mrs. Scheisskopf – Scheisskopf is always too busy planning parades to fulfill his wife's masochistic sexual fantasies. Instead, she sleeps with Scheisskopf's cadets, so they can all get revenge on her husband.
  • Sammy Singer – The tailgunner on Yossarian's bomber when Snowden dies. While he is just a minor character in Catch-22, he becomes one of the main characters in the sequel, Closing Time.
  • Corporal Snark – The mess sergeant before Milo Minderbinder. He was demoted for purposely poisoning sweet potatoes with soap chips, giving the squadron diarrhea, which he did at Yossarian's request.
  • Dr. Stubbs The doctor in Dunbar's squadron who grounds any pilot who requests it.
  • 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. Due to Major Major's unwillingness to see anyone, Towser is the de facto head of the 256th squadron.
  • Corporal Whitcomb – An atheist who constantly antagonizes and looks to usurp Chaplain Tappman, his direct superior.
  • Chief White Halfoat – An American Indian whose family was forced to move from wherever they settled because oil was always discovered. In the army, he works as Captain Black's assistant. He jokingly threatens to slit Captain Flume's throat while he sleeps, which accidentally drives Flume to paranoid madness. During the Siege of Bologna, he decides that he will eventually die of pneumonia, which he ultimately does.
  • 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. His main concern throughout the novel is humiliating General Peckem because he was the first person to have demoted him.

Unnamed characters

  • The C.I.D. Investigators
  • Dreedle's girl Allegedly a nurse, she 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
  • Nately's Whore's Kid Sister
  • The new recruits (Yo-yo's roomies) A group of new young officer-pilots whom Yossarian hates. They are friends from back home, and are excited to still be able to take part in the war. They practically run Yossarian out of his tent, and throw out all of Mudd's equipment.
  • The old man in Rome A 107-year-old man who lives in the brothel frequented by Nately. He sides with whoever is in power and mocks Nately's idealism. He reminds Nately uncomfortably of his own father for the reason that the old man is absolutely nothing like his father.
  • 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. Dunbar claims there is actually no one under the bandages.
  • The Texan A patriotic soldier who keeps the men from staying in the medical ward to hide out from the war by being overly friendly.


    • Heller, Joseph (1961). Catch-22, a novel. New York: Simon and Schuster. OCLC 271160. 
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