Author: Joseph Heller
Publisher: Harper Collins
Read by Jay O Sanders who does a really good job. The only complaint I have about the audio side of this is that there is loud music at the start and end of every disk. I appreciate that the start and end of each the disk is marked - that's useful - but does it have to be with a full thirty seconds of loud music which appears to be some sort of weird combination of "God rest ye Merry, Gentlemen" and a drum cadence...?
What can I say about one of my favorite novels of all time that isn't just embarrassing gushing? I am so in love with this book. The odd thing is that I have read other material by Heller (Good as Gold Something Happened, and found it horrible. Indeed, I am so turned off by his other material that I rejected a chance just yesterday to pick up the sequel to this (Closing Time) written 34 years later, for only one dollar, based on that and a quick read of one or two pages. It looked like it sucked. Catch-22 is only this one of his which made any impression on me, and that one really hit the sweet spot. In fact it hit the suite spot because it settled down and made itself at home.
I first read it when I was living on a kibbutz in Israel, and some kind soul left this behind in the desultory "library" and I just went head over heels for it, which is funny because the first sentence in the novel is: "It was love at first sight". The novel pretty much bombed in the US when it was first released, but it sky-rocketed to number one in the UK. Maybe that's why I like it - my UK genes! I think the Americans don't have a finely developed sense of the absurd and the ridiculous that the UK has - at least they didn't in 1961. This is why The Goons, and their bastard son Monty Python's Flying Circus bloomed in the UK, and the US had to rip all that off by developing Saturday Night Live to get to the same place spiritually!
But beware! Catch-22 is a jigsaw which the reader has to put together, and I've never had so much fun with a jigsaw in my life. The novel is not chronologically rational (or at all rational for that matter!), jumping back and forth and going over the same events more than once, filling in missing details each time until the picture becomes clear. It's like starting with a pencil sketch over which each of the primary colors is laid, one by one, eventually producing a full-color image.
According to wikipedia, the novel almost wasn't called Catch-22. It began as Catch-18, and went through incarnations of Catch-11, Catch-14, and Catch-17. It’s a great example of a novel which did poorly when it first came out and finally took off as a paperback before becoming an institution and donating its title to the world lexicon, yet even after fifty years in continuous print it has sold only 10 million copies. The lesson here is that you should not be disheartened if your own novel doesn’t do well to begin with - but don’t expect your own novel to fly like this one has, either!
The amusing thing about the novel's title is that Catch-22 actually doesn't exist - not officially. It’s merely a ruse to allow the powers that be to do whatever they want and Captain John Yossarian, the main protagonist, is very impressed with its efficacy:
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. (p56)
Catch number 22 also is very versatile. It’s referred to as a justification in other contexts throughout the novel, such as the one which says that "they" have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing. "We" is the multiplicity of characters in Catch-22, all of whom have intriguing stories, but the glue of the novel is Captain Yossarian, a bombardier on one of the B25s, flying for the U.S. Army Air Forces from a base on the Mediterranean island of Pianosa. Heller warns his readers in a note in the front of the novel that the actual island of Pianosa is too small to hold everything depicted in the novel, but we’re glad that didn’t prevent him from writing all those things. Heller himself was a bombardier who flew sixty missions in 1944, and the novel is rooted strongly in his own experiences and impressions of the war, and his disbelief that he survived when statistically, he should have died three times undertaking that many missions.
We see the bulk of the novel from Yossarian's rather warped perspective, even in those parts where he doesn’t appear, because Yossarian is so crazy about the big picture that he's sane. He's right that everyone is trying to kill him, he's just wrong about their motives. The thing about him is that he's a good and brave bombardier who is effectively a victim of PTSD. He would have actually been able to complete his missions and go home if he didn’t keep sneaking off to the hospital to hide out with trumped-up medical complaints. He even earned a medal, which is a real problem for those in authority who would like to do something about him, but can’t because of his mild celebrity status - of which they also try to take advantage.
The best way to tell this novel is the way Heller himself does it - through the characters. Here they are listed alphabetically by the title and name.
is from Iowa. He's relatively new to the squadron but quickly asserts himself as an over-achiever. He tries to get Yossarian into trouble over the Great Atabrine Insurrection. Appleby has flies in his eyes, but he can't see them because of the flies in his eyes.
is known as Aarfy and is the perennially lost navigator in Yossarian's plane. He got lost in Rome and he never knows where they are when flying missions. He's completely unaware of, or at least unperturbed by the dangers of being shot at or of being hit by flak, and he constantly aggravates Yossarian because he crawls up the narrow tunnel between the bombardier's bubble and the nearest escape hatch to sit with him in the front of the airplane. Yossarian hates this because he knows he'll be obstructed by Aarfy if he has to escape the plane in the event of an emergency. Aarfy's bumbling persona is destroyed at the end when he rapes and murders Michaela, a maid at the whore-house/hotel where the bomb crews go on leave.
wanted to be squadron commander when the Major was killed over Perugia, but Major Major Major Major was slapped into that position by Colonels Cathcart and Korn, who considered having an extra major on the roster to be a black eye. Promoting him to commander removed the black eye and replaced it with a feather in their cap. Since Black is at no risk, he has no problem scornfully telling the air crews to "eat your liver". Black initiates the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade and all but paralyzes the squadron with it. He peevishly prevents Major Major from taking an oath throughout the crusade, and he delights in 'buying' Nately's Whore and then relating to Nately everything he 'made her do'.
is the squadron's public relations officer until Chief White Halfoat drunkenly threatens to slit his throat open from ear to ear one night whereupon he becomes a nervous wreck, eventually retreating to live in the nearby forest. He becomes even more of a recluse than is Major Major, who also threatens to slit his throat from ear to ear when Flume accidentally scares him whilst the Major is heading home through the forest one afternoon.
is in charge of operations along with Captain Wren. They are almost always mentioned as a pair just like Gus & Wes, Doc Daneeka's orderlies. They're both present at the nudity episode when Yossarian shows up to be awarded his medal butt-naked. They're the ones who inform Colonel Korn that Yossarian is naked because his clothes have Snowden's blood all over them and he refuses to wear clothes any more.
Chaplain A. T. Tappman
is the Anabaptist minister with whom Yossarian falls in love in the very first sentence of the novel. He's abused by his assistant Corporal Whitcomb, who's an atheist. The Chaplain is always trying to assert himself and do right but he fails persistently in his quest.
is in charge of operations along with Captain Piltchard. They are almost always mentioned as a pair just like Gus & Wes, Doc Daneeka's orderlies. They're both present at the nudity episode when Yossarian shows up to be awarded his medal butt-naked. They're the ones who inform Colonel Korn that Yossarian is naked because his clothes have Snowden's blood all over them and he refuses to wear clothes any more.
Chief White Halfoat
is a native American. His tribe was forced to become nomadic because where ever they settled, oil was discovered. Eventually the oil companies were second guessing them and kicking them off land before they had even arrived there to settle. During the Great Big Siege of Bologna, after he turns over a jeep one night because he's drunk, Halfoat decides that he'll die of pneumonia as a joke, and he does.
CID man #1
is the first of the two CID men who come to Pianosa to find out who is signing Irving Washington's name on censored enlisted men's letters, and later who is doing it to official documents. He never does discover that it's Yossarian in the first case and Major Major Major Major in the second case. He becomes highly suspicious of the second CID man when Major Major Major Major tells him that the second guy was asking about Irving Washington.
CID man #2
is the second of the two CID men who come to Pianosa. He becomes highly suspicious of the first CID man when Major Major Major Major tells him that the first guy was asking about Irving Washington.
is the foil for Yossarian's craziness, getting into apoplectic rages at Yossarian's wacky statements. He and Yossarian mutually believe the other is crazy. Clevinger is the one who tries to rescue the drunken crew in Chief White Halfoat's overturned jeep one night and almost gets dragged into the jeep with the rest of the sorry, drunken crew. Clevinger and his entire air crew vanish inside a cloud one day and are never seen again.
works with General Peckem, and before the war was much sought after by businesses which wanted tax write-offs, because he was so inept that he could run even the most successful and buoyant corporation into the ground. He's always pleased when he screws-up - as when he refers to an assembly of enlisted men as officers - because it means he hasn't lost his disastrous touch.
is the psycho commander of Yossarian's squadron, who constantly raises the number of missions his aircrews must fly in order to try and curry favor with the higher-ups, namely Dreedle and Peckham. The missions begin at 25 and escalate routinely. He talks himself into and then talks himself out of getting Chaplain Tapmann to say prayers before missions to try and get his name into the Saturday Evening Post. Because he persistently raises the mission quota, Dobbs conspires to murder him, but Yossarian talks him out of it. Cathcart owns a tomato farm on the island in partnership with Lieutenant-Colonel Korn.
is General Dreedle's detested son-in-law who is busted in the nose one night in the officer's club by Chief White Halfoat, when Orr attacks Appleby for beating him in every one of the first five serves at ping-pong. It's Moodus who talks General Dreedle out of shooting Major Danby at a briefing after the Great Moaning Episode initiated by Yossarian.
is the assistant to Captain Black, and he signs endless loyalty oaths for him so that Black can pretend he's more loyal than anyone else. It's Kolodny who reports that Bologna has been taken by the Allies. Bologna looks like it's been taken by the allies because Yossarian has changed the bomb line on the map so he wouldn't have to go bomb Bologna and risk his life. Bologna turns out to be a milk run much to Yossarian's chagrin.
is the doomed clerk can read shorthand, and who is unfortunately present at the hilarious trial of Clevinger. The case against Clevinger was open and shut - the only thing missing was something to charge him with. Popinjay is threatened with having his stinking guts ripped out by the officer in charge of the trial, who tells him as soon as they're done with Clevinger, Popinjay is next. He ends up in jail.
is the ex mess sergeant. He was demoted for purposely tainting sweet potatoes with GI soap, giving the squadron diarrhea. He tainted the potatoes at Yossarian's request so that Yossarian could get out of bombing Bologna.
is an atheist who makes a career out of taunting and abusing his superior, Chaplain Tappman. Tappman, inspired by Yossarian, eventually busts Whitcomb right in the chops.
is a pilot who loses it over Avignon, wrenching the airplane's controls away from Huple, who saves the day by wrenching them back, but only after they've re-entered the nightmarish flak. He's the one who keeps calling "Help him, help him" when Snowden is fatally injured by that same flak. Dobbs is truly on the edge, far more so than Yossarian, and he hatches a scheme to murder Colonel Cathcart to stop him raising the number of missions any more. He has it all planned out, and the only thing which stops him is Yossarian's refusal to tell him to go ahead. Later, when Yossarian decides he wants Dobbs to go ahead with the assassination, and indeed will help him this time, Dobbs refuses, because he's completed his missions and can (in theory) go home.
is the squadron flight surgeon. He's a good friend of Yossarian, but won't ground him because of catch-22. Whatever it is that soldiers come to him complaining of, he always has something worse. He's pretty much delegated his practice to his assistants, Gus & Wes. He's afraid of flying, so he has McWatt put him on his flight roster even though he's not aboard, so he can still collect flight pay. This eventually backfires, leading Daneeka to become a ghost!
is Doc Daneeka's opposite number in Dunbar's squadron. He has no problem with grounding anyone he thinks merits it, but his professionalism and decency is all for naught because everyone he grounds eventually ends-up back on active duty. Stubbs himself ends-up transferred to the Pacific arena because he keeps grounding aircrew.
is Yossarian's best friend and is very much alike him in many ways. He's in a different squadron, but they hang together quite a bit. In fact, they're so close that Yossarian can recognize him from the sound of him shooting a pistol. Dunbar has decided that boredom prolongs life, so he loves any situation that he hates, because it makes time go slow. We first meet him faking illness in the hospital with Yossarian. Dunbar refuses to bomb an innocent Italian village (for the sole purpose of blocking the highway below it on the mountain side). He deliberately drops his bombs wide of the target. Dunbar is always ready to back Yossarian in any craziness, but is also not exactly inept when it comes to creating his own. He's the one who tosses the higher ranking officer's clothes out of the window, thereby depriving them of both rank and authority when he, Hungry Joe, Nately, and Yossarian rescue Nately's Whore from their clutches when they're trying to make her say "Uncle" and failing dismally. He's the one who starts a blind panic in one of the funniest episodes when he and Yossarian check themselves back into the hospital so Yossarian can apologize to Nately for busting him in the nose the night of the Great Machine Gun Disruption caused by Sergeant Knight and another unnamed perpetrator. Dunbar immediately espies the Soldier in White in the hospital, and though it's clearly a different person from the original, there can be no doubt that it's the same person. Dunbar's panicked, shrill wails of He's back!" and "There's no one inside!" cause mayhem, for which Dunbar is "disappeared" and neither we nor Yossarian ever see him again.
is always an ex- something because he keeps going AWOL, and is consequently busted down to buck private. Later, he becomes an ex-corporal and an ex-sergeant, and subsequently develops an ambition to become an ex-general. He's put on punishment digging six-foot cube holes, in which he takes great pride, wishing the soldiers at the front line would execute their duty to win the war as well as he does his in digging six foot cubes. He's in a small rivalry with Milo Minderbinder in selling Zippo® lighters (he beats Milo's price) and eventually he's put into the mail room, where he takes delight in hampering all of General Peckham's mail (which he considers to be too prolix), because it was Peckham who first busted him back down to private.
First Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder
is the mess officer in Yossarian's squadron. He wangles his way into a position of such immense power that no one can order him around, by taking over the mess hall and then all the mess halls in the war theater. He has vehicles and airplanes assigned to him which all carry his M&M logo - a logo which is him, but which he added the ampersand so that it looks like a co-operative. His planes have carte blanche to fly anywhere, even behind enemy lines without being attacked. He is all about profit, and this supersedes patriotic duties. He eventually has the entire squadron turning over their entire paycheck to him just to eat in the mess halls. One time, he hires the Germans to bomb his own squadron and makes a profit from it which he completely loses when he corners the Egyptian cotton market and no one wants to buy it - except the Egyptians, who buy it from Milo when he dumps it on the market at rock-bottom prices, and then sell it directly back to Milo at his contract price. Milo is forced to bomb the Egyptian docks to stop this, and he tries to get the men to eat chocolate-covered cotton to get rid of it. The only person he trusts is Yossarian, because Yossarian wouldn't take advantage of his free pass to get all the fruit he wants because "he says he has a liver complaint".
is the commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces in Pianosa and an arch-rival of General Peckem (the head of Special Services in Rome). He is known for his nurse and for his no-nonsense style. He supports Yossarian's right to collect his medal in the nude.
General Dreedle’s Nurse
accompanies Dreedle everywhere, and she is the cause of the Yossarian-inspired outbreak during the Great Moaning Episode in a briefing which General Dreedle attends and where Major Danby is almost shot until Colonel Moodus explains to Dreedle, his father-in-law, that he can't simply shoot anyone he wants.
General P P Peckham
is the head of Special Services in Rome and a huge rival of Dreedle's. He doesn't know that his disputes with Dreedle are settled in Dreedle's favor by ex-PFC Wintergreen because of Wintergreen's control of the mail flow. Peckham wants to take over Dreedle's combat operations. It was Peckham who demanded "a tight bomb pattern" for no reason whatsoever other than that he could.
is the soldier who sees everything twice. Yossarian imagines Giuseppe to be a genius and emulates him right up to the point where Giuseppe dies; then Yossarian suddenly starts seeing everything once. The irony here is that Yossarian even gets to impersonate Giuseppe when he dies, because he has to stand-in for Giuseppe when his family comes to visit. They're told he's dying, not that he already died. When they address him as Giuseppe, Yossarian tells them his name is Yossarian, and Giuseppe's brother takes him at his word, thinking the family has had his brother's name wrong this whole time. It never occurs to his parents that this isn't their son.
Gus & Wes
work for Doc Daneeka and are mentioned as a pair, like Piltchard and Wren. Their sole job is to take sick airmen's temperatures, deciding on their disposition by whether their temperature is below 101 degrees, above 101 or exactly 101. They also paint airmen's gums and toes with gentian violet solution and give them a laxative to throw away into the bushes. They refuse to declare Daneeka ill and send him home, so Daneeka is convinced that they're incompetent.
is a serial peanut brittle eater, who lives in a tent next door to Yossarian. He puts everyone at risk by flying his wing dead level and straight over the target, and is consequently the best bombardier in the war theater according to his superiors. He stole the gun from the dead man in Yossarian's tent and uses it to ambush field mice which stray into his tent at night. His loosing off shots at the mice almost gets him shot when Hungry Joe loses it one night, looses off an entire magazine into Havermeyer's tent, failing to hit him even once.
spends his down time trying to take up-skirt photographs of female performers, or trying to talk women into posing nude for him, but his photographs never come out because he always forgets something, like film, or the lens cap. He used to be a photographer for Life magazine. He's miserable when he's reached his mission quota and is flying no more, waiting for his orders to go home, and he has horrific nightmares every night under those circumstances. He's happy when the missions are raised again and he can fly more, so he has no nightmares at that time. His moods are a reverse barometer for the rest of the airmen.
is the under-aged owner of the cat with which Hungry Joe had a fistfight. Hungry Joe was declared the victor because the cat fled. The cat sleeps on Hungry Joe's face every night. Huple and Hungry Joe share a tent on the wrong side of the tracks.
is another under-aged airman. He's sliced in two by McWatt's airplane propeller when McWatt is goofing around in his plane over the raft where the airmen and the nurses go to swim. The horror of what he's done causes McWatt to deliberately crash his plane into the mountain. Since Doc Daneeka was listed as flying with McWatt that day (to collect his flight pay), Daneeka is also listed as dead, since he wasn't seen parachuting from the plane before it crashed!
is killed at the bombing of a bridge at Ferrara which is where Yossarian won his medal because he went over the target twice and succeeded in flattening the bridge. Consequently he blames himself for Kraft's death.
is the training unit commander with whom Clevinger and Yossarian interact during basic training. Scheisskopf loves a parade, won't whip he wife not even when she begs for it, and hates Clevinger, bringing him up on charges when Clevinger stumbles while marching and thus merits having the book thrown at him. he's charged with “...breaking ranks while in formation, felonious assault, indiscriminate behavior, mopery, high treason, provoking, being a smart-guy, listening to classical music, and so on...”. Scheisskopf is later promoted to Colonel working under Peckham, and eventually to General.
is Colonel Cathcart's assistant and collaborator. It is these two who offer Yossarian his deal - that he can indeed go home if he agrees to like them. Korn embarrasses himself crucially when he takes over the mission briefing from Major Danby after the Great Moaning Episode, which was initiated by Yossarian in response to the overpowering appearance of General Dreedle's nurse.
Lieutenant Edward J. Nately III
hails from a wealthy family and in Rome, falls in love with "Nately's Whore", who remains nameless throughout the novel. She has a kid sister called "Nately's Whore's kid sister". He wants to marry his "whore" and take her and her young sister back to the USA with him, but she has no love for him at all. She even taunts him and teases him as she goes off with other men when he runs out of money and can no longer 'retain her services'. This goes on until she finally gets a good night's sleep after the rescue conducted by Dunbar, Nately, Hungry Joe and Yossarian. When she wakes up, she's so refreshed and revived that she falls deeply in love with Nately. It's Yossarian who has to tell her that Nately has been killed during the German raid of Pianosa, which Milo organized and paid for. From that point onwards, she blames the messenger, and tries repeatedly to assassinate Yossarian.
is the dead man in Yossarian's tent, who reported to the ops tent to ask for directions as to where to report in to the squadron, but who gets sent directly on a mission, and is killed in action. Since he never officially "arrived" at the squadron and is now gone, a reverberating bureaucratic nightmare ensues until new recruits (who are assigned to Yossarian's tent after Orr disappears) toss Mudd's equipment and belongings out into the railroad ditch, and there the entire episode ends.
is another sex worker with whom Yossarian falls in love and has many endearing conversations. She's full of contradictions and seems to disappear too, and Yossarian cannot seem to find her again. This may be because, like a moron, he did exactly what she predicted he would do, and tore up the address she gave to him right after she left his sight. He regretted it, of course, but by then it was far too late.
Major ___ ___ de Coverley
Major Blank Blank de Coverley looks like Odin. Everyone lives in terror of him. He seems to have no duties and spends all his time pitching horseshoes and making trips to captured Italian cities, including Rome from whence he returns one day with an eye injury and a clear eye patch Which was cut from one of Major Major's celluloid windows. No one dare even ask him his first name. It is he who single-handedly overturns Captain Black's Great Loyalty Oath Crusade when he demands "Give everybody eat" at the mess hall one day. He is responsible for heading into newly liberated cities, renting apartments for the enlisted men and the officers, and stocking them with girls. He disappears after Yossarian moves the bomb line to include Bologna. Major ___ ___ de Coverley heads directly there to rent apartments for the enlisted men and for the officers to stay in when they go on leave, thinking it's in allied hands. He's never seen again.
is a complete ditz and lives only to try and impress senior officers. General Dreedle orders him to be taken out and shot during the Great Moaning Episode during one of his briefings, when he moans after all the others have stopped moaning, but not because of Dreedle's nurse.
Major Major Major Major
was born to Mr and Mrs Major, and because his wife was so wrecked after a 36-hour labor, his father took advantage of her indisposition to give their new son a first name of Major, and a middle name of Major. When he joined the USAAF at the outbreak of war, an IBM computer joined in the joke and promoted Major Major Major to the rank of Major directly from Private, causing all kinds of grief to him and his fellow officers during basic training. which he completed in record time because no one wanted a Major in basic training. He eventually finds comradeship playing endless games of basketball with the officers and men, until he's suddenly promoted to squadron commander, whereupon everyone turns on him and he becomes a pariah. He eventually manages to become a complete recluse, refusing to see people in his office except when he's not in the office. He takes a leaf from Yossarian's book and begins signing Washington Irving's name, and then John Milton's name to the official documents which cross his desk, in place of his own name, thereby keeping the two CID men in business.
is a psychiatrist who thinks Yossarian is losing it, because he's not crazy. Unfortunately, Yossarian is unable to turn this into a trip home because some other airman accidentally gets sent home in Yossarian's place.
is Yossarian's Scotch-Irish pilot who is losing it just as much as everyone else, but doesn’t show it until the sad episode with Kid Sampson. One time Yossarian almost kills him for his crazy flying when Yossarian is on board, and McWatt thereafter ceases buzzing Yossarian's tent.
works in the apartment block where the officers stay when on leave in Rome. She speaks no English and ends up being raped and murdered by Aarfy.
is Doc Daneeka's wife. When her husband is declared dead, even though he isn’t, right after McWatt's suicide, she moves away from Daneeka's home and leaves no forwarding address.
is Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife, who pouts and pines because her husband is so busy organizing one parade after another that he won’t pay her any attention. She consequently sleeps with any cadet who will have her, and all of them do have her because they all want to get back at Scheisskopf. She's a very liberal and compliant girl who will indulge any fantasy and has quite a few of her own.
is a very upright and proper, and very caring nurse who works with Nurse Duckett and is her best friend until Duckett starts dating Yossarian; at that point, Cramer refuses to have anything to do with Duckett and won’t even speak to her.
Nurse Sue Ann Duckett
Neither of the two nurses initially like Yossarian, but Duckett changes her mind and they start dating until she wants to marry a doctor, and dumps Yossarian so he won’t interfere with her plans.
shares a tent with Yossarian and is a pilot. He gets shot down almost every mission, which is why Yossarian refuses to fly with him despite endless entreaties that he do so. Orr has set up their tent with a cement floor and a heater, which provides hot water. He's always tinkering with something, and taunting Yossarian about all kinds of things. He seems genuinely hurt when Yossarian flat refuses to be his bombardier. Yossarian feels sorry for him even though he's one of the most capable people Yossarian knows. One time, he's shot down and fails to return to base for once. Later, we learn that Orr was the smartest one of all. His crashes were all on purpose so that he could gain sufficient survival skills to escape to neutral Sweden and ride out the war there. Orr inspires Yossarian to emulate his escape at the end of the novel.
is Yossarian's tail gunner. He's the one who repeatedly faints when he sees Snowden's wounds
is Yossarian's turret gunner who causes panic during the great Big Siege of Bologna when he hurries back to the supply tent before the raid, and picks up extra flak jackets, causing everyone else who is flying to do the same.
is the radio gunner who was fatally hit over Avignon. Yossarian fails to diagnose the most serious injury, instead attending faithfully and expertly to a relatively minor leg wound whilst Snowden bleeds to death from a gaping wound to his abdomen, which is referred to as 'spilling his secret'. His death has a huge effect on Yossarian and colors a lot of his attitude and behavior throughout the novel, especially at Clevinger's educational meetings, which eventually brings those meetings to an abrupt close.
The 107-year-old man
is the dissipated wrinkled subversive man in the apartment/brothel in Rome where the officers stay when on leave. He drives Nately nuts by contradicting his most treasured beliefs in American success and superiority. He's also the man who is responsible for Major ___ ___ de Coverley's eye injury by hitting him with a rose stem when Major ___ ___ de Coverley was in the vanguard of the push into Rome.
The Soldier In White
(the one who isn't Lieutenant Schmelker) is completely wrapped from head to toe in bandages. He has a bottle of clear fluid dripping into the crook of his arm, and another bottle collecting the outflow of a zinc pipe which he has cemented above his groin. When the bottle on the floor is almost full and the one dripping into his arm is almost empty, Nurses Cramer and Duckett switch the bottles with admirably efficiency. Dunbar accuses The Texan of killing the Soldier In White, but Yossarian is of the belief that it was Nurse Cramer who killed him because she's the one who took his temperature and first realized he was dead. This doesn't prevent him from siding with Dunbar when he accuses The Texan of the soldier's death.
The Soldier In White
(the one who is Lieutenant Schmelker) is completely wrapped from head to toe in bandages. He has a bottle of clear fluid dripping into the crook of his arm, and another bottle collecting the outflow of a zinc pipe which he has cemented above his groin. He's the one who causes Dunbar to lose it when he and Yossarian tramp into the hospital after the missions have been raised to seventy. Dunbar's reaction causes such a turmoil that armed doctors and military police have to be called in. Thereafter, no one ever sees Dunbar again. I have a theory that they wrapped him in bandages from head to toe, which means there actually is third Soldier in White!
is the guy who is admitted to the hospital at the opening of the novel, He's so likable that he drives everyone else out of the hospital. Dunbar, backed by Yossarian, accuses him of killing The Soldier In White. He's still in the hospital when the second Soldier in White shows up.
I thoroughly recommend this novel for anyone who is not faint of heart and everyone else, too. Unless you have flies in your eyes, in which case see Doc Daneeka so he can refer you to Gus & Wes who will paint your toes and gums purple, and give you a laxative to throw away in the bushes.