6. Other Techniques : a. Symbols : a.i. The Soldier in White: The soldier in white is a nameless body that lies in the hospital, covered in bandages from head to toe. The other soldiers in the hospital can’t see any trace of a human being, and believe it’s possible that there’s nobody inside. Months after his death, he is replaced by another, identical soldier in white. The other soldiers think it must be the same person. He represents the army’s attitude toward the men and the treatment they are given. They are simply interchangeable objects, easily replaceable, and are not treated as people with substance or feeling. a.i.1. “It was, indeed, the same man. He had lost a few inches and added some weight, but Yossarian remembered him instantly by the two stiff arms and the two stiff, thick useless legs…He had, in fact, hardly changed at all” (Heller 376). a.i.2. By the description, one can tell that this is obviously not the same man. The first soldier in white died and has been replaced by a different soldier. However, this makes no difference to Yossarian, Dunbar, and the others present in the hospital at the time of his arrival. He looks the same to all of them, simply because he is a man covered in bandages and they have no idea what he really looks like or who he is. b. Style: b.i. Joseph Heller devotes chapters to certain characters in order to tell their individual stories, creating the novel by linking those stories together into one. Divulging more information about certain
characters over time keeps the reader engaged and interested in how the characters are all connected. Learning about a character little-by-little adds to the significance of the character to the novel or, specifically, to Yossarian himself. Specific descriptions of characters give insight on their personalities and how they relate to Yossarian. b.i.1. “But Snowden kept shaking his head and pointed at last, with just the barest movement of his chin, down toward his armpit. Yossarian bent forward to peer and saw a strangely colored stain seeping through the coveralls just above the armhole of Snowden’s flak suit. Yossarian felt his heart stop, then pound so violently he found it difficult to breathe. Snowden was wounded inside his flak suit” (Heller 449). b.i.1.a. This scene where Snowden dies is repeatedly mentioned throughout the novel, but only this time, near the end of the novel, does the audience realize why Snowden dies. The other times it is mentioned, not enough sufficient information is given except that Snowden is dead. Now, the reader understands the reason why Yossarian is so distraught over his death. b.i.2. “Orr was an eccentric midget, a freakish, likeable dwarf with a smutty mind and a thousand valuable skills that would keep him in a low income group all his life” (Heller 323). b.i.2.a. This one-sentence description of Orr gives more information about him than the dialogue between Orr and Yossarian does. Descriptions such as this occur with several other characters, painting a clearer picture in the reader’s mind than any dialogue would.
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- Catch-22, Yossarian, Yossarian’s tent