Yossarian

From Academic Kids

Captain John Yossarian is the protagonist of the 1961 novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. He is a part of the 256th squadron of the Army Air Corps (which later became the US Air Force), where he acts as a bombardier. The character's exploits are based on the experiences of the author: Heller was a bombadier in the Air Corps stationed on an island off the coast of Italy during World War II, and also lost crew members when his plane was attacked on his flight to bomb the city of Avignon.

His first name is given in the book version of Catch-22 on page 428.

Yossarian is also the protagonist of Catch-22's sequel, Closing Time, which was published in 1994.

Although the book describes him as being Assyrian, his name indicates an Armenian background.

Throughout the book, Yossarian's main concern is the idea that people are trying to kill him, either directly (by attacking his plane) or indirectly (by forcing him to fly missions). His suspicion becomes full-blown paranoia when he finds that, because of Air Force red tape, he can't leave; he is unable to fly the required number of missions to be discharged from duty because his superiors keep increasing the number of required missions; and he can't get a section 8 by pretending to be insane because his superiors see his wanting to get out of flying as a sign of perfect sanity (hence Catch-22.) Because of this, Yossarian boycotts flying missions as much as possible, either through feigning illness or inventing an excuse to return to base (like a busted radio.) In fact, the book begins with Yossarian staying in the hospital due to a liver condition.

Yossarian is also haunted by memories of the final moments of Snowden, one of his crew. Snowden, through his death, showed Yossarian that man is mortal. Because of Snowden's death, Yossarian becomes reluctant to fly missions, as it could ultimately result in his death, as it was with Snowden's.

The bulk of Catch-22, concerns Yossarian's relationships with the other soldiers in his squadron, such as the psychotic Hungry Joe, the amateur war profiteer Milo Minderbinder, and the spoiled, idealistic Nately. The book also concerns the efforts of Yossarian's superiors, especially the egomaniacal Colonel Cathcart and the Joe McCarthy-like careerist Captain Black, to continually up the number of required missions so that no one can be discharged.

Whenever on leave, Yossarian and his friends carouse, drink, and sleep around as much as they can, knowing and fearing they could die on any given mission. One of the prostitutes they employ becomes Nately's unofficial girlfriend (she is referred to only as "Nately's Whore") and, when Nately is killed, blames Yossarian for his death and repeatedly tries to kill him.

Through a convoluted chain of events, Yossarian earns Cathcart's ire for a smuggling scam that was actually perpetrated by Milo and is threatened with imprisonment. When Yossarian threatens Cathcart with exposing his opportunistic manipulation of missions, however, Cathcart backs down and offers to release him from duty as a reward for not telling anybody.pl:Yossarian

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