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Catch 22: One Colonel And Two Dead Men

1323 words - 6 pages

A Colonel who does not care for the lives of his men, a man whose memory haunts every moment, and a kid who died on his first day, these are the most important characters of the novel Catch-22. Yossarian, the main character from Joseph Heller’s novel, entire military life is controlled by the lives and deaths of the men around him. In a novel laden with characters, Captain Yossarian and the plot of the novel are governed by three men. As the novel follows Yossarian and his experiences as a bombardier in World War II, these three men influence the plot more than any other characters in the book. Mudd, Snowden, and Colonel Cathcart are crucial characters who influence Yossarian’s feelings toward the war, and are critical to the development of the plot of Catch-22.
Mudd is the first character who is extremely significant to the plot of Catch-22, because he is Yossarians constant reminder of death. Each morning Yossarian remembers that there is “a dead man in [his] tent that nobody can throw out [and] his name is Mudd” (169). Yossarian literally wakes up to death. He sees it every time he enters his tent, because he is continually greeted with the possessions of a dead man. Mudd was only, “the replacement pilot who had been killed in combat before he had officially reported for duty,” (107) as such, he has no lines. The sole contribution Mudd makes to the plot of the novel is his death. Yossarian never even meets Mudd, yet, his belongings haunt Yossarian in a way nothing else in the book does. The possessions are a constant, nagging reminder that a young, unknown kid has died, and that no one seems to really care. To Yossarian, Mudd embodies, “the unknown soldier who had never had a chance, for that was the only thing anyone ever did know about all the unknown soldiers-they never had a chance” (108). It is not Mudds death that is important, more the fact that a kid dies and no one in the squadron gives a damn. His unobserved death rouses anger within Yossarian towards his commanding officers. He now sees the disregard the “higher ups” have for the lives and deaths of his fellow soldiers. All because Mudd, “never officially [got] into the squadron, he could never officially be gotten out” (107) his life and death become inconsequential. The death of this young man, this young soldier, is completely ignored. In fact, Yossarians commanding officers “refuse[s] to admit that the dead man even existed” (22). The way Mudd is treated as something expendable is one of the first instances of disillusionment Yossarian feels toward the government.
Mudds death, and subsequent leftover possessions, only makes Yossarian stir up a small amount of trouble for his commanding officers, whereas Snowdens death breaks him. Snowden, “freeze[s] to death in the blazing summertime...after spilling his secretes to Yossarian in the back of the plane” (166) and dies in Yossarians arms. One of the most important moments in the novels is as Snowden lays there dying Yossarian is...

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