The Quest Of A Hemingway Hero Essay

, Research Paper

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway is a story of Love, war and one

Man s pursuit of finding his own personal code in order to make a separate

peace. Fredrick Henry is an American who serves as a lieutenant in the

Italian army to a group of ambulance drivers. Hemingway portrays

Frederick as a lost man searching for order and value in his life. Catherine

Barkley is an English volunteer nurse who serves in Italy. She is considered

very experienced when it comes to love and loss since she has already been

confronted with the death of a loved one when her fianc was killed earlier in the war.Their love affair must survive the obstacles of World War The background of war-torn Italy adds to the tragedy of the love story.The war affects the emotions and values of each character. The love between Catherine and Frederick must outlast long separations, life-threatening wartime situations, and the uncertainty of each other’s wereabouts or condition. This novel is a beautiful love story of two people who need each other in a period of upheaval.

At the start of the novel, Frederick is given a vacation to leave the

war for a period of time in order to relax. He befriends a priest because he

admires the fact that the priest lives his life by a set of values that give him an orderly lifestyle. He is told by the priest to go to Abruzzi, there in the mountains he can relax and forget about theworries of war. But Fredrick is

hardheaded and listens to his friends and decides to go to Naples, there he

drinks and travels from one house of prostitution to another and yet he is

discontent because his life is very unsettled. This vacation was his free

ticket out of the war but Fredrick does not realize nor understand how bad

this war is. He decides to return due to his pride and patriotism.

A close friend of Fredrick, Rinaldi Is also a Lt. In the army. Together hey

share stories and interests. Rinaldi is a strong man, one who understands

what war is about. Through numerous attempts of lessons given to Fredrick, he still doesn t understand. Rinaldi constantly calls Fredrick baby which is an accurate description of him. He is still a child and is not aware of the true meaning of war, love and life. Upon his return, Fredrick Henry continues with his duties as an ambulance driver. He is greeted by the mechanics who were also good friends with Fredrick. They would always eat and drink with each other and share stories and jokes.

The Mechanics are a group of people who are trapped in the war,

they are forced to serve their country or face the serious consequences.

They tell the horrific story of the Granatieri and Cabrinieri, where in which

they lined up soldiers and shot every tenth one. The senseless killing was

used as a scapegoat and thosewho opposed to serve in the army. Everyone

is afraid to desert the war due to the fact that their family is endangered

and would be killed.

Through Rinaldi, Frederick becomes involved with Catherine Barkley. He

slowly falls in love with her and, in his love for her, he finds commitment.

Catherine already possesses the knowledge that her own life cannot be

dependent on another. She learned this lesson through the death of her

fianc . Her love for Frederick is what her life revolves around, yet she

knows not to rely on him to be the order in her life. Had she been

dependent on Frederick for the order in her life, she would not have been

able to allow him to participate in the war for fear of losing her own

stability with his death. Their relationship brings some order and value to

his life. Catherine is the one that has to set Fredrick Henry straight and

make him become aware of what life really is.Fredrick Henry is excited by

the war and every day it becomes worse The cold temperature and rain only bring more havoc as disease and sickness adds to the growing number of deaths. Catherine describes the war as in contrast to the battle of the Somme, where an exuberant number of people lost their lives foolishly.

On duty one day, Fredrick drives down the road and confronts a man

with hernia limping down the road. Fredrick offers the man help, the man

clearly does not want to be helped. Fredrick insists on helping the man,

because it was the right thing to do in his eye. Fredrick without even

knowing just committed murder. The man with the hernia would only be

fixed and thrown back in the front lines where he would be killed. Had

Fredrick let the man go, he would have been a free man. It is clear that

Fredrick has no personal code of ethics. He is simply following through on

what he is expected to do. To follow the rules and obey the high ranking


Later on in the story Fredrick is having dinner with the mechanics.Then all

of a sudden a bomb shell explodes within yards away. The shards take out

Fredrick s legs and he is hospitalized. This was the first occurrence of war

effecting Fredrick. Within days Fredrick goes into surgery and Rinaldi fixes

him up. Fredrick then continues to serve in the war. Him joining the army

again jeopardizes his future with Catherine. Maybe next time he might not

be so lucky. Throughout the novel an actual war scene does not come into

play until book 3, when the Italian army makes its first move. Ironically

the first move was a retreat. The first thing the high-ranking officers do is

desert their troops so they can get to a safe distance. When Fredrick asks if

he is to evacuate the patients, he is told to get the equipment first. Then if

there are any room left he may take a few patients. Fredrick the idiot

follows through on his orders and gathers the equipment rather than help

save his fellow soldiers. He had the power to save a human life but instead

he chose to save the equipment.

Fredrick Henry decides to lead the Italian army in the retreat. Fredrick

knows that he has no clue about the area, but because of the stripes he has

and the title he is given he immediately presumes he is superior and

capable of such tasks. With all the army as his responsibility Fredrick leads

them into enemy territory without knowing endangering their lives. But

he is lucky and he is not discovered. Upon the retreat Aymo, picks up two

young girls along the road. Hemingway does not continue on to explain but a reader may assume the young girls were raped. Only used for personal pleasure.

Frederick sees the losing Italian army as total chaos and disorder where

he had previously seen discipline and control. He can no longer remain a

part of something that is so disorderly and so, he deserts the Italian army.

Frederick’s desertion from the Italian army is the turning point of the

novel. This is the significance of the title, A Farewell to Arms. When

Frederick puts aside his involvement in the war, he realizes that Catherine

is the order and value in his life and that he does not need anything else to

give meaning to his life. Until the conclusion of the novel, Frederick still

relies on Catherine as the source of order in his life. With the end of their

affair when Catherine dies giving birth to their child, Frederick realizes

that he cannot depend on any one person, such as Catherine, or any thing,

such as religion, war, or frivolity, for order and discipline. Hemingway

describes Frederick’s enlightenment best in the final paragraph of the

novel when Frederick sees Catherine’s corpse for the first and last time.

Frederick’s reaction was that “it was like saying good-by to a statue.”

Frederick realizes that Catherine was only a symbol of the order and

strength in his life. Strength to face life must come from within him and

only he will be able to get himself through his own life. He will have to

learn to depend on himself. Frederick realizes this and is able to get on

with his life on his own. “After a while [he] went out and left the hospital

and walked back to the hotel in the rain.” He did not mourn or feel like his

own life had ended with her death, rather he was able to continue on with

his newfound inner strength and face his world alone. He finally

understood what a man really is, and how to make that separate peace he

looked so hard for.

This novel succeeds in getting Hemingway’s message across. Frederick’s

realization causes the reader to reflect on his/her own life and on what

institutions they depend on in their own lives. I enjoyed this novel because

I learned along with Frederick that I must face my life on my own. The

strength to face my problems cannot come from any other source because

no other source can ever be as permanent as the strength that I can find

within myself.


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