Major Major Major Major
Fictional character biography
He has the surname Major, and at birth his father gave him the first and middle names Major and Major, informing the mother that he had named the boy 'Caleb' in accordance with her wishes. She only discovers Major Major's actual full name when his birth certificate is required for him to enter kindergarten, and the shock leads to her death. The novel explains that the name was a joke, and not a particularly funny one, on his father's part.
His father is mentioned briefly in the novel. A staunch Calvinist, he is one of the richest alfalfa farmers in his community. He receives a farm subsidy for every crop of alfalfa that he does not grow with his farmland and uses this money to buy more land to not grow alfalfa on. He believes that receiving money for not producing something is divinely ordained. Ironically, he preaches the proverb "You reap what you sow", and maintains that federal aid to anyone but farmers is "creeping socialism". "He would leap out of bed at the crack of noon each day, to ensure that the chores were not being done."
Inducted during World War II, Major Major is promoted from Private to Major while still in recruit training, without attending the Officers Training Corps or with any advance warning at all. This is caused by an IBM machine with a "sense of humor almost as keen as his father's". A recurring joke in the book is that he bears a striking resemblance to Henry Fonda, even to the point that some people think he is in fact the actor. In an interview, Heller stated that he would imagine Major Major to be played either "by Henry Fonda or by somebody who looks nothing like Henry Fonda."
During the novel, it is revealed that he can never be promoted nor demoted, because the army has only one Major Major Major Major and Ex-PFC Wintergreen will not allow this situation to change.
Major Major is also promoted to squadron commander after his predecessor, Major Duluth, is killed in action. It is this event that causes Major Major to become a recluse: he stops eating meals at the mess hall, he avoids all his duties by forging false names to correspondence requiring his signature, and he enters and exits his office through a window.
Upon discovering that forging false names (like Washington Irving and Irving Washington) to official correspondence would considerably decrease his workload, Major Major begins to sign every document with those two names. This causes a duo of C.I.D. men (who are not working together, and are, in fact, trying to kill each other) to begin an investigation to learn the forger's identity. Because Yossarian once censored an enlisted man's letter under the name of the group chaplain, the CID men believe that the chaplain is intercepting Major Major's correspondence and forging signatures onto them. This investigation eventually leads to the chaplain's arrest and trial. However, Yossarian had also used the name Washington Irving to sign documents, probably giving the idea to Major Major.
Major Major and his father highlight the absurdity of bureaucracy. His character also stands in contrast to the other authority figures in the book who relish their power and use the bureaucratic system and the law of Catch-22 to maintain or try to increase their power over others. Major Major demonstrates how an indifferent bureaucratic system can award a position of authority to someone who, being unwilling or unable to handle the position, can only fulfill his responsibilities by hiding from them. Major Major doesn't want to be mistaken for Henry Fonda or to hold a position of authority; he only wants to live a "normal" life by mitigating the damage dealt by his ridiculous name, but bureaucracy forbids him to do this. The situation is another Catch-22, as are the orders he gives regarding visiting officers: the men can only see him when he's not in.
Eventually Major Major disappears from the book, although it is uncertain if this is because he hides or if he was "disappeared" like Dunbar. He simply may have had no part whatsoever in events, due to his plan to completely avoid his duties.
Major Major was portrayed by Bob Newhart in Mike Nichols' 1970 film adaptation of the novel. He is initially a Captain, acting as the laundry officer. Colonels Cathcart and Korn drive up in a Jeep after Major Duluth's death, promote him on the spot, and drive off.
Catch-22 Catch-22 Characters
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Major League Baseball on NBC — Genre Sport Developed by NBC Sports Directed by Harry Coyle Andy Rosenberg John Gonzalez Doug Grabert Bucky Gunts Starring Major League Baseball … Wikipedia
Major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada — Major professional sports league, or simply major league, is the term used in Canada and the United States to refer to the highest professional division in any team sport. The term major league was first used in 1921 in reference to Major League… … Wikipedia
Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada — Major Leagues redirects here. For other meanings of Major League or Major Leagues see Major League (disambiguation). The major professional sports leagues, or simply major leagues, in the United States and Canada are the highest professional… … Wikipedia
major — [ maʒɔr ] adj. et n. • XVIe; en provenç., XIIIe; lat. major, compar. de magnus « grand » I ♦ Adj. Milit. Supérieur par le rang (dans quelques comp.).⇒ état major, tambour major. Médecin major. Sergent major. II ♦ N. 1 … Encyclopédie Universelle
Major General — or Major General is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of Sergeant Major General. A Major General is a high ranking officer normally subordinate to a Lieutenant General and senior to a Brigadier General. In… … Wikipedia
Major Tom — is a fictional astronaut created by David Bowie, heard in his songs Space Oddity, Ashes to Ashes, and Hallo Spaceboy. Bowie s own interpretation of the character evolved throughout his career. 1969 s Space Oddity depicts an astronaut who casually … Wikipedia
Major League Baseball on CBS — Format Sports Created by CBS Sports Starring Sean McDonough Jack Buck Tim McCarver Jim Kaat Dick Stockton Greg Gumbel Pat O Brien … Wikipedia
Major League Baseball on ABC — Genre Sport Developed by ABC Sports Directed by Chet Forte Craig Janoff Starring Major League Baseball on ABC broadcasters … Wikipedia
Major — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Major (homonymie). Major est un grade militaire, qui se situe différemment dans la hiérarchie militaire suivant les pays. Il désigne le premier grade d officier supérieur ou, dans l armée française, un grade… … Wikipédia en Français
Major de Vaisseau — Major Pour les articles homonymes, voir Major (homonymie). Major est un grade militaire, qui se situe différemment dans la hiérarchie militaire suivant les pays. Il désigne le premier grade d officier supérieur ou, dans l armée française, un… … Wikipédia en Français
Major scale — Major scales In music theory, the major scale or Ionian scale is one of the diatonic scales. It is made up of seven distinct notes, plus an eighth which duplicates the first an octave higher. In solfege these notes correspond to the syllables Do … Wikipedia