Yossarian - Name


In Catch 22 the author introduces Yossarian as a soldier in WWII with an Assyrian heritage, even though his name indicates an Armenian background because of the "ian" suffix. Yossarian is not an Armenian last name, however. Yossarian's first name, John, is discovered quite late in the novel, with a throwaway remark by Colonel Korn: "Call me Blackie, John. We're pals now."

The exotic name "Yossarian" was chosen by Heller to emphasize his protagonist's detachment from the mainstream military culture. Yossarian's name is described ironically as being "an odious, alien, distasteful name, that just did not inspire confidence." It was "...not at all like such clean, crisp, honest, American names as Cathcart, Peckem and Dreedle."

Moreover, Heller saw the Jewish community of America becoming more integrated and less sidelined by mainstream society, and so decided not to give his protagonist a Jewish name and a Coney Island background (as Heller himself had). As to the origins of the name itself, "Heller admitted in later years that the name 'Yossarian' was derived from the name of one of his Air Force buddies, Francis Yohannan, but that the character of Yossarian himself was 'the incarnation of a wish' (Now and Then 175-6)."

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Famous quotes containing the word name:

    Name any name and then remember everybody you ever knew who bore than name. Are they all alike. I think so.
    Gertrude Stein (1874–1946)

    What is it? a learned man
    Could give it a clumsy name.
    Let him name it who can,
    The beauty would be the same.
    Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892)