Snowden In Joseph Heller's Catch-22

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One of the most mysterious characters in Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, is Snowden. He is constantly referred to, but never truly explained until the end. He acts as a sort of model soldier, a sort of run-of-the-mill “tool” in every army’s toolbox. His story being told in pieces acts as a way for Heller to show the reader how the everyday soldier is treated, one day they are forgotten, one day they are remembered, but displays the fact that those memories of the soldier will always be there. The style in which Snowden’s story is told serves to humanize him and make the reader sympathize with his situation; it creates an emotional connection that remains long after the book is put back onto the shelf. Before Heller creates an emotional connection…show more content…
Yossarian recollects, “[T]o the enlisted men’s apartment … whom he found dusting in Snowden’s room on the fifth floor… Snowden was still alive then, and Yossarian could tell it was Snowden’s room from the name stenciled in white on the blue duffel bag he tripped over” (132). Snowden is shown to be just a regular soldier, he uses Major ____ de Coverley’s apartments like everyone else and is shown to be a man of simplicity, having only a standard issue duffel bag to his name. This small description gives the reader a glimpse into the life of Snowden. It sows the seed for the reader to begin to care for him. To people in power, the enlisted grunts of the military are often overlooked and seen as being there for the sole purpose of the officer’s amusement. This is shown when Milo talks like a kid in a candy store saying, “‘Look at that!’ he exclaimed in alarm. ‘Look at that! That’s a funeral going on down there. That looks like the cemetery. Isn’t it?’ Yossarian answered him slowly in a level voice. ‘They’re burying…show more content…
“‘Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?’… Group Headquarters was alarmed, for there was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to” (29). Headquarters does not want people asking questions because once people ask questions, the entire chain of command slows down, something that cannot be afforded during wartime. Furthermore, headquarters does not care about the truth, all they care about is getting the job completed in the shortest time with the fewest casualties. This of course comes at the cost of the dignity of the soldiers. If the soldiers do not know why they are fighting in the war, then morale is bound to go down and insurgencies can rise up. A soldier is also treated as an object as opposed to an actual person, ““[W]here McWatt and Doc Daneeka guided Yossarian inside to a chair and washed Snowden off him with cold wet balls of absorbent cotton” (208). Heller describes McWatt and Daneeka washing Snowden off of Yossarian as if he were a bowl of soup. He did not describe it as washing off Snowden blood or guts, but rather as Snowden, as if Snowden were just laying on top of him; as if Snowden did not have any different parts about him, but rather that he was one whole object, and not a person made up of many organs, muscles, and veins. Finally, people did not care about

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