Catch 22: Character Profiles
Aarfy is insensitive to his friends and terrible to women. He rapes and kills a maid and does not understand why this is a problem. He angers Yossarian because he always has a dopey smile on his face when he mocks other people.
Black likes to see other people unhappy. He sleeps with Nately's prostitute just to bother him and tells people things he knows will upset them just to see how upset they get. He also creates the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade just to get Major Major into trouble.
Cathcart cares only about becoming a general. He worries that everything he has done could be a "black eye" for him instead of a "feather in his cap." He flatters and tries to win the favor of his superiors, but he usually succeeds in annoying them. He keeps trying to devise methods of getting features in The Saturday Evening Post. He also keeps raising the number of missions the men need to fly in order to get home, just so he can impress his superiors. He disregards everyone else in his desire to rise in military ranks.
Doc Daneeka does not do much, leaving all the work to his orderlies. Most of the time, he mourns because his medical practice back home is dying while he is away at war. He refuses to help ground the fliers who do not want to fly anymore because he does not want to get in trouble. The pilots write him down on their flight logs so he can draw flight pay without going up in a plane. This backfires when one of the planes goes down and he is declared officially dead.
Major de Coverley
For some reason, everyone is in awe of de Coverley. No one knows much about him, and he seems to spend most of his time tossing horseshoes and getting apartments for the men to use during their rest leaves.
Dobbs keeps trying to get Yossarian to join in a plot to kill Colonel Cathcart, but Yossarian refuses to cooperate.
Dunbar is Yossarian's friend. He is partner to many of Yossarian's antics and often joins him in his schemes. When one is hospitalized, the other finds a way to get into the hospital and keep him company. Dunbar is "working hard at increasing his life span . . . by cultivating boredom" (17). The Air Force "disappears" Dunbar one day.
Flume moves out of his tent in fear of the chief, living in the woods. He moves back in with winter coming because he assumes the chief is ready to go die of pneumonia.
Chief White Halfoat
The chief claims he is the sole survivor of his Native American tribe, which was wiped out by white men greedy for oil. He is convinced that he is destined to die of pneumonia. He frightens his roommate, Flume, when he wakes him up in the middle of the night to tell him that someday he will cut his throat.
No one wants to fly with Havermeyer because he never practices evasive action and always puts the men in danger so he can hit the target.
Huple is a fifteen-year-old boy who lied to get into the Air Force. His crews do not trust him even though he is a good pilot because they believe he lacks the maturity to protect them.
Hungry Joe is obsessed with naked women. Whenever he sees one, he grabs his camera. He often convinces women to take their clothes off for him, but the pictures never turn out. Hungry Joe is also only able to sleep well when he is actively flying missions. When he finishes his missions and is waiting for orders to go home, he screams all night long because he is so anxious about the fact that Colonel Cathcart will probably raise the number of required missions yet again. He is finally suffocated by Huple's cat.
Korn is Cathcart's assistant. He is very capable, but all he really cares about is his own career. He often undermines Cathcart in his own self-interest.
Major's father gave him his first name as a joke because it was the same as his last and middle names. He gets promoted to major by a computer error. He is not prepared for these responsibilities and spends his days forging Washington Irving's signature on official documents and avoiding all contact with other people.
McWatt is a good-natured person who likes to scare others. He flies low to frighten the people on the ground. When he kills Kid Sampson in one of these pranks, he is so dismayed that he kills himself by flying his plane into a mountain.
Milo runs the mess hall, a job which he turns into a major profitable syndicate. He claims that everyone has a piece of the syndicate and so everyone profits, but it is clear that he is just taking the profits for himself. He puts people in danger when they are without supplies, and he even hires out his planes to bomb his own base. Everyone accepts his actions because he does all of this in the name of capitalism, which is supposedly the ideal they are all fighting for.
Nately is the son of wealthy, snobbish people. He is sweet and rather innocent and falls deeply in love with a prostitute because she does not care about much. He does everything to spend time with her and get her to care about him. When she finally falls for him, he gets killed.
This prostitute finds Nately's love for her boring. She finally falls in love with Nately after he gives her a chance to get a good night's sleep. She tries to kill Yossarian when he tells her about Nately's death.
Orr seems like a very silly man. He is short and funny looking. He frustrates Yossarian, his roommate, by making circular conversation, insisting upon putting crab apples or chestnuts in his cheeks, and taking apart tiny little valves. He gets shot down a lot on missions. However, it turns out he was just practicing so that he could escape by making a crash landing and then rowing to Sweden.
General Dreedle and General Peckem
These two generals spend all their time and energy trying to undo each other. They do not care about the men or even about winning the war. All they want is to be powerful.
Scheisskopf starts out in a training base, and his only area of expertise is making the men march in parades. When he arrives at Pianosa, all he wants to do is organize parades. Somehow, this gets him promoted to general and he ends up in charge.
The Kid Sister
Nately's prostitute's little sister wants to be just like her sister. After the brothel is broken up by the police, Yossarian tries to find her to protect her because she is only twelve and a virgin. She represents to Yossarian the innocence he would like to protect.
Snowden died on a mission before the book begins. He died of a chest wound while Yossarian tried to fix the wound in his leg. From Snowden's death, Yossarian learned how easy it is for someone to die and how little control he has over it. Now, his only goal is to stay alive as long as possible, because he has learned fear of death.
Tappman just wants to fit in with and help the other men. He feels left out because he is a chaplain and is grateful when Yossarian and Dunbar befriend him. He has to live in the middle of the woods with his assistant. He tries to complain on behalf of the men about all of the missions they have to fly, but he is too timid to have any effect. He misses his wife and children desperately.
Whitcomb is Tappman's assistant. He is manipulative and wants to climb in the military ranks. As an atheist, he dislikes the chaplain.
Wintergreen is the mail clerk at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters. He controls communications for the whole area, and so he has a good deal of power. He throws away or changes communications if he feels like it.
Yossarian is in the Air Force during World War II. His group is being forced to fly more missions than any other group, and he is trying to get out of flying any more because he is afraid of dying.
Yossarian is unable to act for much of the book. He goes around nude for a while after Snowden dies, he complains to the chaplain and other officers, and he fakes illness. None of these methods are direct actions, and he is forced to continue flying.
He deals with his distress over his own mortality by treating women as sex objects. He visits prostitutes, has sex with available women, and has a relationship with Nurse Duckett in an attempt to feel in control over his body and his life. None of this works, because the army is in control of him. As more and more men die, he realizes with increasing frustration that life is just physical matter and he is destined to die someday.
Only at the end does he take control of his life. He chooses to desert the Air Force rather than enter into an immoral agreement, go to prison, or keep putting himself in danger. He has chosen to resist by simply leaving, because if he remains he is still under the control of his superiors, no matter what he does.