Heller’s novel was able to become so popular because readers use the characters as a comparison of how patriotism should be, and the attitudes of the soldiers during World War II illustrates how idealism needs to change. The attitudes of characters in Catch 22 are far from our normal perception of patriotic. For example, the main character, Yossarian fakes injuries in order to stay the in hospital, because he does not want to risk his life in battle. He complains saying things such as “I think it’s my appendix bothering me” (Heller 176) and “ then I’ll just go back to the hospital” when he is soon to encounter another battle.
Yossarian is so unpatriotic that he even “ goes absent without official leave from Milo” (Heller 405). Many characters in Heller’s novel simply have no motivation to serve and protect their country. One soldier states, “ there’s no patriotism, that’s what it is. And no matriotism, either” (Heller 123). Compared to the time period in which the novel was written, this mind set is unacceptable. Yossarian has such a negative attitude, it is even stated “morale was deteriorating and it was all Yossarian’s fault
However, there are characters in the story that are used as comparison to Yossarian, and show the level of morality people would have expected during the time period in which the novel was published. Appleby is one of these soldiers, who seems to be the perfect soldier. He follows regulations without question and does everything he is supposed to do, managing to succeed with minimal effort at whatever he does. It is stated that “Appleby is a symbol of American Virtue” (Heller 18) Texan is also another comparison character. Texan is up beat, excited, and full of energy.
He is proud to be serving his great nation. Heller writes, “ Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous, and likable. In three days no one could stand him. ” (Heller 9) This statement clearly explains the behavior of most soldiers in the novel. The importance of these characters is to portray to the reader how soldiers should have acted, and also provide evidence for the rise in levels of idealism and patriotism during this time period. It is easy to tell by the soldiers in Catch 22 that attitudes needed to change. The presidency of John F.