List of Catch-22 characters

List of Catch-22 characters

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


Significant characters

  • John 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.

  • Captain Aardvark

Captain Aardvark (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.

  • Chaplain Tappman

Tappman 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.

  • Lieutenant 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."

  • Snowden

Snowden is a member of Yossarian's flight during a mission, and acts as catalyst for the fundamental change in Yossarian's mentality and outlook. After their plane takes heavy anti-aircraft fire, Snowden is mortally wounded and it is Yossarian who attempts to come to Snowden's aid by treating his visible wounds with bandages and sulfanilamide powder. Snowden's death leaves a lasting impression on Yossarian.

Other characters

  • Appleby is 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, however, by Major Major, who was appointed squadron commander as a joke by an I.B.M. machine. 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.
  • 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. He took self-satisfaction in genius for ineptitude when addressing the enlisted men instead of the officers.
  • 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 is crazy.
  • Nurse Cramer The best friend of Nurse Duckett. After Nurse Duckett starts a relationship with Yossarian, puritanical Nurse Cramer stops speaking to her.
  • Major Danby A college professor and intellectual who sees himself as a poor match for the armed services. He briefs the airmen on upcoming missions.
  • Mrs. Daneeka She is the wife of Doc Daneeka, and 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 available, 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 two-room apartments for the soldiers on rest leave, and kidnapping Italian laborers. 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 threatens to slit Flume's throat open from ear to ear.
  • 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 Are Doc Daneeka's two orderlies, whose main activity is to paint airmen's gums and toes purple with gentian violet solution.
  • 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.
  • 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 has a cat that constantly sleeps on Hungry Joe's face.
  • Hungry Joe Hungry Joe 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 develop 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.
  • 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 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 The assistant to Colonel Cathcart. Korn is sadistic, sarcastic and cynical.
  • 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, Italy.
  • Major Major Major Major
  • McWatt The pilot of Yossarian's plane. After accidentally killing Kid Sampson, he commits suicide by crashing his plane into a mountain.
  • Michaela
  • Colonel Moodus General Dreedle's son-in-law, whom the general hates.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • General Peckem A personification of bureaucracy, General Peckem wants to replace General Dreedle as the head of combat operations in Pianosa.
  • Piltchard & 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
  • 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, leaving him the de facto head of the squadron.
  • Corporal Whitcomb An atheist who constantly antagonizes 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. He is Captain Black's assistant.
  • 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.

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 who 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 An annoying soldier that keeps the men from staying in the medical ward to hide out from the war.


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

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