Catch-22 By Joseph Heller Character Analysis Aardvark (Aarfy)

Aarfy may be the most despicable character in the novel. At first he seems merely incompetent, a navigator who somehow manages to direct his plane into the worst flak on a mission that is supposed to be so easy that it's called a "milk run." Or perhaps he is just inadvertently in the wrong place at the wrong time; he has an annoying habit of getting in Yossarian's way during times of crisis. Maybe he isn't just harmless. During the second raid on bologna, as flak concussions slam against the plane, Aarfy invades the bombardier's space and frustrates Yossarian's movement, refusing to leave. The air fills with sweet clouds of blue smoke, and Yossarian is certain that he is about to die, until he notices that the smoke comes from his "grinning, moon-faced navigator" who is enjoying his pipe. Aarfy is no help in a crisis. Whenever anyone calls to him for help, Aarfy mysteriously cannot hear.

If Aarfy ever has doubts, he doesn't show them. Although he has never had a real relationship with a woman, he is a self-proclaimed expert on romance. He is also sadistic, cruelly mocking Nately for his devotion to the prostitute in Rome. Aarfy announces that he would never lower himself to the level of such "filthy trollops."

Aarfy's problems with women are serious. He delights in telling about his college days when he and his fraternity brothers tortured and raped two captive high-school girls: "Boy, we used to have fun in that fraternity house," Aarfy boasts nostalgically. But his most serious offense occurs late in the novel. As Yossarian returns from his dark night of the soul on the streets of Rome (Chapter 39), he finds a crowd surrounding a dead body on the pavement beneath the officers' apartment. It is Michaela, the officers' shy, unassuming maid. Aarfy has raped her, held her prisoner in a closet for two hours, then tossed her out a window. When Yossarian confronts him in the apartment, Aarfy is sure that he has not done much wrong. "I only raped her once," he says. Aarfy explains that he raped the girl instead of hiring a prostitute because he has "never paid for it in [his] life" and would not sink so low. He killed the maid because he couldn't have her going around saying bad things about him. Aarfy is certain that the police will not arrest him — "Not good old Aarfy" — and they do not. Consistent with the disjointed values of the world in which Yossarian finds himself, the police arrest him for being AWOL and allow Aarfy to go free.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

For most of the novel, General Peckem is in charge of




Quiz