A symbol is something such as an object, picture, or written word that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible. Symbols indicate and represent ideas, concepts, or other abstractions. There were many symbols used to express ideals in the novel Catch 22. Three of the major symbols used in Catch 22 to reflect major themes in the novel are, The Soldier in White, Havermeyer and his rifle, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf's marches.
The soldier in white, a bandage-wrapped, faceless, nameless body that lies in the hospital in the first chapter of the novel, represents the way the army treats men as interchangeable objects. When, months after his death, he is replaced by another, identical soldier in white, everyone assumes it is the same person.
Havermeyer is the epitome of the perfect soldier. The military trains its soldiers to be heartless killers, and Havermeyer loves killing so much that in his spare time he takes his rifle to blow away innocent field mice. The context of this depravity mirrors the absurdity of the war: WWII thrust combatants into bloodthirsty battle against people who they otherwise had no reason to fight. Likewise, Havermeyer has no reason to kill field mice. In fact, perhaps the field mice are symbolic. Yossarian feels comfortable with leaving the military to leave others to fight because he knows that one life- namely his- isn't going to make a difference in the war. The same is true for any other soldier. In this huge, senseless conflict, each individual soldier is pretty much meaningless and helpless. Likewise- and here's the symbolism- the poor field mice are frightened and helpless, just like soldiers in the battlefields, getting blown to pieces just for the senseless depravity of it.
In the world of Catch-22, a major element of military success is all about putting on a show. For instance, Colonel Cathcart hopes that neat images (the bombing...