Frederick Henry Discovered Essay, Research Paper
In A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway uses his idea of the code hero to introduce us to an amazing character. Hemingway takes his own ideas and conveys them through Frederic Henry. During World War I Frederic Henry proves to us that war and lost love can change a strong and willing man. Most men are not willing to change and Frederic Henry realized that in order for him to survive the many problems he was faced with, he would have to become a more mature man, love and solider.
Hemingway’s code hero is portrayed in most every novel that Hemingway wrote. He takes his main character and makes him someone that is hard to change and even harder to make realize the situations around him. His code heroes are attractive, but not too attractive. They are very masculine and strong-minded. They stand for “what is right.” The code hero always believes in doing his job completely and putting it first, no matter what. Hemingway’s code hero consists of one very strong, willful man that is willing to do what he needs to do in order to get the job done. The main focus of Frederic Henry as a code hero is serving to his greatest extent in the war (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms 124).
Fredric Henry was injured while in the war, but as soon as he was healed he went back to the front. Henry returns to the front because he believes in finishing something that he was involved with in the first place. These actions are heroic because although he wasn’t forced to go back to the front he felt an obligation to the war. This reflects an aspect of Hemingway’s code hero because Henry wasn’t going to walk away and take the easy was out of the situation. “He was serving in a war and he gave absolute loyalty and as complete a performance as he could give while he was serving” (Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls 136). This was a performance for Jordan (the main character in For Whom the Bell Tolls) because he felt that since this was his job in the war, people might look on his actions for years to come. He wanted people to remember his good “performance.” The code hero does not want to do anything that could affect what his orders are. Frederic especially wanted to do everything possible in the war that he could. “He must keep himself in good health in order to do his duty and serve in the war” (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms 63). Although Hemingway tried to portray Henry as a well-established man, he sometimes is confused and not sure of what to do. “What Hemingway portrays, in fact, is a good, albeit a disappointed and disillusioned, man trying to fulfill his various obligations” (Nolan 271). He is trying to make his relationship last since he is in love and he is also trying to take care of his duty’s in the war.
Although the story is told through first-person narration, we know that Frederic is a clean-shaven man who is tall in stature and although he is not handsome, he is attractive which makes him fit into Hemingway’s code hero. He shows us that he is a strong man and you realize this by everything he has to go through during his time of service. He is a strong man by fighting for a country that isn’t even is. By fighting for another country he is trying to discover himself and he wants from life. He is trying to discover what he truly wants.
Even though he is a strong and prideful man, he realizes when he has done something wrong. He even, at times, feels guilt and remorse for his bad actions. Frederic shows us that he is a man of honor and he will keep his commitments to the government as long as the war is going on. Although he is an authoritative character he does not like to abuse his official standings as a Lieutenant. “To avoid having to take drastic action, Henry goes well beyond what is required of him as an officer” (Nolan 272). By not shooting the sergeants at first he gives them a few chances and then he takes action properly according to military law.
Henry falls in love during this time of war and despair. The woman he falls in love with is Catherine Barkley and she is an important asset to the character of Frederic himself. By showing us how much Frederic cares for Catherine it makes readers realize what a caring person he is. By promising Catherine his life after the war, the love between the two is brought to reality. He never loved anyone before Catherine came along, but now she has his heart in her hands (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms 99).
Frederic grows a lot throughout the novel. In the beginning he starts off as a self-conscious narrator.
“After this beginning, the narrative traces Frederic’s gradual change from a callow, unreflective, self-centered youth to a mature man who both learns and faces up to the inevitably destructive nature of his world, as he first attempts to construct an alternate world with Catherine and then loses her to forces which decree such alternatives impossible” (Phelan, “Narrative Discourse…” 139).
He goes through many changes and hardships that change his outlooks and his personality. “Frederic works through unstable relations with the war, with Catherine and the world and this makes him progress as a person” (Phelan, “The Concept of Voice…” 229). We follow Frederic through loss, love and defeat and we see the building of his character all the way through. Through the war Frederic Henry has to keep his character together because of everything he goes through. In the end of the novel he loses both his baby and the love of his life and he still manages to keep himself together.
“It seems she had one hemorrhage after another. They couldn’t stop it. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died. She was unconscious all the time, and it did not take her very long to die” (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms 321).
This made him realize that life and love comes and goes quickly. He learned the most important lesson of his life from that experience. Don’t take life for-granted.
“The emotional quality of this progression is similar to that which we associate with tragedy: as Frederic slowly changes he becomes more and more aligned with Hemingway’s norms and this more estimable in the eyes of the authorical audience” (Phelan, “Narrative Discourse…” 139). By the end of the novel he is fitting into Hemingway’s code hero character because he has progressed so much from the beginning to the end. The changes have been slow, but to the audience he has changed to one of Hemingway’s true code heroes by the end.
By the end of the novel he is completely exposed to the raw nature and hatred that war brings. “Frederic now knows that destructiveness not only of the war but also of the world; indeed, he has experiences that destruction firsthand in the most excruciating way imaginable” (Phelan, “The Concept of Voice…” 229). Henry survives many tests (losing his friends and loved ones) and because he has grown from this, it makes him admirable. Frederic is no longer blind to the nature of the war by the end of the novel. He has learned that in order to survive the worst of things you have to be a strong person on the inside as well as on the outside.
Hemingway shows us that Frederic is a strong character by putting him through many trying and tedious tests during his wartime experience. “Through the other noise I heard a cough, then came the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh-then there was a flash, as when a blast-furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white and went red and on and on in a rushing wind” (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms 54). By explaining the war and what happened, Hemingway expresses how dangerous and life-threatening it was and how courageous of a person Frederic was. “’He wasn’t alive.’ ‘He was dead?’ ‘They couldn’t start him breathing. The cord was caught around his neck or something’” (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms 327). Because Frederic went through two deaths, the death of his baby and his love, it shows us how much of a caring person he is. The death’s just show us that he is a caring person although we know that he is a caring person already. “I shot three times ad dropped one” (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms 204). The action of Frederic shooting the Sergeant shows that he is a man of honor and will keep his commitments to the war as long as the war is going on (Noaln 273).
Hemingway suggests confusion of Frederic’s identity through a number of scenes in which he is misidentified by other characters. He is an American in an Italian uniform, which makes him an oddity to the book (Nagel 190). Perhaps being an American and having to be in an Italian uniform and help a country that isn’t even his is enough confusion for him. “Furthermore, in sending that signal, the control and deliberateness also signify that Frederic has taken the final step in his remarkable growth from authoritative spouter of conventional wisdom to understated but informed source of Hemingway’s own values” (Phelan, “The Concept of Voice…” 229). Hemingway grows throughout the novel just as much as his own character Frederic Henry does (Nagel 190). This was one of the first novels that Hemingway wrote and throughout the book he shows us through Frederic that he is becoming more mature, just like Frederic is. Both of them go through go up and won and you know that Hemingway is going through different experiences because of the roller coaster ride that he takes Frederic on.
Hemingway makes his main character the strongest and most courageous person in the book. It is important that his main character can go through anything and still come out on top. By making Frederic experience so many things, it expresses how certain situations can make a person mature. Hemingway feels that his main character has to be the focus of everyone’s attention and maybe even suggests that he wants to be as strong as the main character he writes about. Other authors write just to write while Hemingway relates his characters to how he is or how he wants to be (Phelan, “Narrative Discourse…” 144). He wants to be strong courageous and strong-willed. Frederic Henry is the type of man that Hemingway has developed to be throughout the writing of this novel.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. U.S.: Simon & Schuster Inc. 1929.
‘’’. For Whom the Bell Tolls. U.S.: Simon & Schuster Inc. 1940.
Nagel, Gwen. “A Tessera For Frederic Henry: Imagery And Recurrence in A Farewell To Arms.” Ernest Hemingway Six Decades of Criticism. Ed. Michigan State Press : 1987. 187-193.
Nolan, Charles. “Shooting the Sergeant-Frederic Henry’s Puzzling Action.” Westchester State College. III (1984): 269-275.
Phelan, James. “Narrative Discourse, Literary Character, and Ideology.” Reading Narrative. 20 (1989) 132-146.
Phelan, James. “The Concept of Voice, the Voices of Frederic Henry, and the Structure of A Farewell to Arms.” Oxford University Press. 10 (1991) 214-232.