How is the main character, Yossarian, developed throughout the novel Catch-22?  

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Yossarian initially seems to be as crazy as all the other characters in this madcap novel, but in reality, he is the most sane person of them all. Only a sane person would look at the mindless carnage he sees everyday and want to put an end to it. While...

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Yossarian initially seems to be as crazy as all the other characters in this madcap novel, but in reality, he is the most sane person of them all. Only a sane person would look at the mindless carnage he sees everyday and want to put an end to it. While his desire to go back home seems cowardly and self-serving at first, what Yossarian really wants is an end to this nightmare where he's putting his life and the lives of the others on the line for no reason at all.

Yossarian has the most grounded sense of morality as well. When he is given a chance to go back home a hero so long as he expresses public support for the extension of flight missions for the other men or face court-martial, he simply decides to escape to Sweden, which will label him a fugitive. However, he is not willing to compromise his principles by the taking the former option and endangering the lives of other people.

It is difficult to say then that Yossarian undergoes a character arc in terms of outlook or personality. He is mostly the same throughout the story. However, he goes from enduring these missions to openly rejecting the military bureaucracy, so that could be said to be the course of his development.

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Although Captain John Yossarian attempts to have himself committed as insane, he is one of the few sane characters that emerge from Joseph Heller's classic anti-war satire, Catch-22. Yossarian is no hero; he has but one goal: to survive the war and return home. His best chance, he believes, is to be grounded, so he can sit out the never-ending bombing runs that his squadron faces. But he realizes that whenever he gets close to the maximum number of missions, they will be raised again by the squadron commander, Colonel Cathcart. His plea for insanity will not work, since by claiming that he is mentally ill, it only proves that he is sane. This is just one of the uses of the military's great, unwritten rule--Catch-22.

     "Sure there's a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."

Yossarian is horrified by the death and destruction around him, and though he will do just about anything to keep himself from contributing to it, he has a moral center lacking in most of the other characters. He recognizes the hypocrisy and deceit that has poisoned the self-serving members of higher command. Yossarian does not desire promotion or publicity like Cathcart: He only wants to go home. He does not descend into the double-dealing world of the treasonous Milo, nor the sadistic depths to which the murderous Aarfy plunges. He is perfectly willing to drop his bombs over the ocean instead of a non-strategic target because it will save lives--both those of the innocent civilians below and those inside his plane. And though he has no qualms about lying to get out of flying, he refuses to contribute to the problem by accepting an honorable discharge and then promoting Cathcart's name back home. Faced with the choices of continuing to fly; an honorable discharge that includes lying about his true motives; or court-martial, Yossarian finds yet another alternative. He will row to Sweden to join his friend Orr, who has already discovered the way out of the insanity of his war.

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