Farewell To Arms And Meaning Of Love

Essay, Research Paper

In A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway illustrates in a simple and pure style

the development of the relationship between a young American ambulance driver

and an English nurse during World War I in Italy. This love-story is marked, as

John A. Sanford describes in The Invisible Partners, by identification and

projection of the opposite sex. In the following I will give an insight of the

relationship between Lieutenant Frederick Henry and Catherine Barkley of A

Farewell to Arms related to the Jungian approach of animus and anima, mentioned

in The Invisible Partners. Furthermore, I will discuss the aspect of power in

this relationship and examine the strengths and weaknesses of this connection

and the two characters regarding their dependency to each other. Finally, I will

examine the value of ?love? in this relation and explain, on a personal

note, the impact of this story. From the very beginning on, the reader learns

that Frederick Henry feels detached from life and is on a quest for

identification. This gets clear in, for example, Chapter II when he gives

insight into his feelings about being with women. ?Clear cold and dry? is

his view of experiences he had and the identification with his masculinity is

all he has. In addition, he is an American, fighting in a war for another

country. Isolated from his family and compatriots, he is searching for

protection from the discovery of insignificance in a world indifferent to his

well being. The reader gets the feeling that Frederick is emotionally exhausted

and has no place to go ? until he gets to know Catherine Barkley. Catherine

Barkley seems a little weird at the beginning. More and more we learn about her

tragedy and leave the feeling behind that she is ?crazy?. In fact, we learn

that she just totally identifies with her feminine nature and she even develops

to a devotional person who has cast aside conventional social values and lives

to her own account. Together, Lieutenant Henry and Catharine Barkley, find a way

to escape the realization of human morality and build up a casting of roles to

complement one another. Related to Sanford?s The Invisible Partners we can

conclude that he finds in her his positive anima and she in him her positive

animus. They carry a projected psychic image from the other and seem to be to

each other the source of their happiness. Both become increasingly comfortable

with what they are and what they have found in each other and adopt their new

?roles? easily, whenever the other is nearby. They create their own, private

world and declare themselves even as a married couple, projecting their positive

images onto each other at the same time, as though Catherine?s animus and

Frederick?s anima have fallen in love: an unconscious attraction. The person

who carries a projected psychic image from another person does have power over

that person, for as long as a part of our psyche is perceived in someone else

that other person has power over us. But who has power over whom in the case of

Catherine and Frederick? In my opinion, both have a certain power. Both

recognize the relationship as a useful device for satisfying particular

emotional needs. Playing their ?roles? had originally different reasons but

eventually they move to play it as a team. He plays his role to regain the sense

of order he has lost and she plays her role to find order at all. Not common

order, but her own way of dealing with life. Together they live in an idealized

world, fully falling into it when rowing across the lake, on their way to

Switzerland. The power hereby is the fact that it is impossible for them to play

their roles when they are apart and, therefore, become ultimately dependent upon

each other?s company. The weakness of this relationship gets obvious through

Catherine?s self-destructive behavior. She feels completed only through him,

as though it was through him that she found herself. With sentences like

??there isn?t any me. I?m you. Don?t make up a separate me?

Catherine makes clear how insignificant she feels about herself and that she

sees herself only complete through him. Moreover, she makes him

?bigger-than-life? and is content with him making decisions and her loving

for him. Notwithstanding, she misses the creativity within herself, having

displaced it onto a man. The strength of this relationship lies, on the other

hand, in their intimacy. Both know what to except from each other and both are

not only fully aware, but also happy with what the other is. Paradoxically, they

either maintain or find self-esteem in giving up parts of their characters.

?Every relationship is a mixture where people meet and areas where they do not

meet because the two people are different?. In Catherine Barkley and

Lieutenant Henry?s case we find a couple ignoring the areas where they don?t

meet, and this creates a powerful bond between them, even if this means giving

up parts of their identity. The answer if this love is ?real? is in my

opinion principally positive. Although it is difficult to believe wholeheartedly

in his love for her until much later in their relationship, and even though we

get the feeling that they use each other, the very end convinces us of the

opposite. The moment he sees his child and ?has no feeling of fatherhood?

because his son ?nearly killed his mother? is in my opinion the ultimate

proof that he loves her. He rejects his innocent child in favor of his beloved

?wife?. Catherine?s love for Henry gets clear pretty soon. Although, in

the beginning the reader perceives that she is just looking for a substitute for

her dead fiancйe, we see how her feelings increase and these feelings

leave a deep impact on us. This love is used by both to maintain their

self-images by projecting their ?other? side on one another, to provide

themselves with psychological support, and to escape the war, both symbolically

(?in the tent of her hair?) and literally (in Switzerland). The love that

Frederick and Catherine have for each other is more than could be explained in

words and Frederick makes it known that words are not really effective at

describing the details. Their love during an ugly war is not to be recreated or

modeled even as much as through a baby conceived by their love. The baby could

not be born alive because their love is beautiful and yet doomed so that nothing

can come out of it. On a personal level, I was shattered after reading this

story and not just because of the end. I can?t say that A Farewell to Arms is

a war story, but have to admit that it is not just a love story either. In the

first two books we are in the war and the war is overwhelming. In the last two

books we are in love. And, just as the first two books are flavored with love in

the time of war, the last two books are tinged with war in the time of love. The

third book is the bridge between the two themes and puts the relationship to a

test of depth. It is then, when we discover that this love is ?real?, though

based on dependency. The impact of this story contains of the handling of human

beings trying to come to terms with their vulnerability. Ending tragically, the

story leaves traces in the mind of the reader and inspires to think. In

conclusion, Ernest Hemingway has written a most sensible and beautiful story

that explores the meaning of true love. With the help of simple stylistic

methods, he has created two characters, who the reader identifies with more and

more throughout the story, even if we don?t always understand and comprehend

each one of them. The story only makes sense as a whole, regarding true love and

sacrificing parts of one?s identity. It, furthermore, illustrates the colors

of projecting psychic images vividly and can therefore be seen as a perfect

example for the Jungian approach to unconscious attractions between the sexes.

Sanford discusses in The Invisible Partners the personified feminine elements in

a man, and the masculine elements in a woman through a psychological and

scientific approach and helps us comprehend on a more conscious level the battle

of love.

Hemingway, Ernest: A Farewell to Arms. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Sanford, John A.: The Invisible Partners. New York/Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1980


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