Catch 22 by Joseph Heller is about Yossarian, a captain in the US Air Force who makes efforts to avoid missions. The narration does not follow any chronological order.
The plot starts with Yossarian in a hospital faking a liver problem. Tappman, a chaplain, visits him. The other main characters are introduced: Orr is a handyman and Yossarian’s tentmate; Havermeyer loves danger and flying. Mowatt is a daredevil and Nately is son to a rich businessman and falls for a prostitute and White Hafloat, who is a native American.
Yossarian inquires whether he can be suspended from a flight on the grounds of insanity. However, the medic tells him he is sane enough to fly.
Colonel Cathcart is in charge and has the habit of extending the number of soldier missions that allow one to get sent home. Yossarian feels this is an injustice, but the Colonel does not even care. Korn is Cathcart’s assistant and wants his job one day. Cathcart wants to attain General. He signs his men up for a risky Bologna mission where Yossarian almost dies. Yossarian flees to Rome, and here he meets Luciana and spends a night with her.
The chaplain takes over Yossarian’s mission to have pilots who have completed enough missions sent home. This results in his torture by government officials and even endures imprisonment threats but believes confronting Cathcart is his service to the soldiers.
Yossarian’s friends start dying, and he feels differently about avoiding his responsibilities. He confronts Cathcart about the raising of the number of the missions and even declares he will not be flying again. He is threatened with prison or the alternative of being allowed to go home if he would pretend to support his superiors.
The deal is tempting, but Yossarian sees it was unfair to his comrades. He, in the end, discovers a way to evade Catch-22.