Code Hero In A Farewell 2 Arms

Essay, Research Paper

In Ernest Hemingway s A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway shows Frederick Henry s

progression into a code hero. Frederick Henry achieved many code hero characteristics by

the end of the novel with the help of Catherine, a code hero herself. All the characteristics

seem to follow the path of a person with masculine characteristics who is continuously

striving to live his/her life to the fullest. Throughout the novel, Frederick Henry’s behavior

matures into one of a code hero through various stages, including giving in to sensual

pleasures, having trouble sleeping, finding a sense of love and commitment, and

recognizing death s role in life.

In the start of the novel, Frederick Henry immersed himself into the sensual

pleasures that surrounded him. Henry “had drunk much wine”, and had aimlessly

wondered from woman to woman in Book one of the novel. He had no self-control to

contain himself from the brothels during this time. He drank heavily on a regular basis, yet

he was never a sloppy drunk, and could hold his liquor very well. Henry enjoys the food

he ate, the love he made, and the wine he drank whenever he felt the desire to, as a code

hero often does. He could not learn to control himself until he had developed a

relationship with Catherine. By receiving the support and confidence from her, he was able

to change. Henry finally disciplined himself near the end of his stay at the Ospidale


Henry had also always had trouble sleeping as many of the code heroes do in a

Hemingway novel. Henry could not sleep during the night because the night was a

representation of death to him. Death to Henry was the end of all things because he did

not believe in any sort of after-life. If he did not sleep, he could avoid having to deal with

this immense fear. As their relationship develops, Henry was often accompanied by

Catherine during the nights at the Ospidale Maggoire. Henry once said to Catherine, who

was already an established code hero, “There was almost no difference in the night except

that is was an even better time.”(pg.138) Henry sleeps all day long, in order to stay up all

night. Unfortunately, Catherine eventually had to go back to working during the day,

instead of working the night shift, and stopped spending her nights with him. Henry is left

to stay up alone all night. He shows a great change of character when he does not ask

Catherine to come stay with him, thus controlling his desires to be with her physically.

From this point of the book, Henry shows he is able to discipline himself. Although Henry

did not believe in the institution of marriage, he was extremely loyal and committed to

Catherine. When he is first introduced to her, he discovers a capacity for love that he had

deep within himself. This begins the process of development when he transfers his love

and loyalty to Catherine, and deserts the Italian Army. Although most men in this time

period would marry a woman if they got her pregnant, Henry did not marry Catherine

when he found out she was pregnant. He was not a traditional man, but he was definitely a

loyal one.

Also, Henry never once talked about his beliefs or feelings throughout the novel.

He does not talk about his hatred for the Carabinieri or his feelings when he was cheerful

or downhearted. He showed no signs of remorse for deserting the Italian army.

In the end of the novel, Henry is faced with his love’s death. Henry told God,

“Don t let her die. Oh, God, please don t let her die. I ll do anything you want if you don t

let her die. Please, please, please, God, don t let her die.”(pg.330) the moment before he

entered the door where Catherine finally passed away due to a hemorrhage. He asked God

to save his greatest love after taking his child, and does not receive an answer.

Hemingway s code hero, Frederick Henry, evolutionizes into a man whom the

reader could identify with and understand. Henry unknowingly becomes a code hero, and

a better person with the help of Catherine. Henry becomes a code hero in the end due to

the help of many incidents. He concludes that death is the end, and when it gets you, there

is no where to go. Henry never becomes a true code hero until the end when he accepts

death as the end of existence.


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