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Catherine Barkley is a very controversial character in the novel. Some feel that she is simply a sex-object and lacks in character or depth. However, many critics argue that she is a stronger character than Henry. Unlike Henry who simply floats through his life reacting to whatever comes his way. Catherine attempts to achieve her desires by doing things like having herself reassigned to the hospital in Milan where Henry is sent after he is injured.
Frederic Henry,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], often referred to as Tenente by his Italian friends, is the narrator of the story. In A Farewell to Arms, Henry tells about his experience as an American who volunteers as an ambulance driver for the Italians during WWI. During the course of the novel, Henry meets and falls in love with British Red Cross nurse, Catherine Barkley.
Lt. Rinaldo Rinaldi
Just before she dies, Catherine tells Henry “I’m not a bit afraid. It’s just a dirty trick.”
Religion in A Farewell to Arms
A Very Short Story and a Letter
Themes in A Farewell To Arms
Characteristics of Catherine Barkley
A chaplain in the Italian army, the priest is a friend of Henry’s. In talking of his friend, Henry says "He had always kn
Henry is the first embodiment of what became known as Hemingway’s code hero: he is stoic when threatened or when in pain,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], he maintains his composure when under fire, he does his work with as little fuss as possible; he is a man’s man whose primary interests seem to be drinking and women.
Rinaldi is Henry’s closest friend. He is a surgeon for the Italian army. He is exuberant and very fond of his friend Henry calling him many absurd names of endearment including ‘baby.’ He wants to be a good surgeon and person. However, the stress of the war causes him to drink excessively and spend time at brothels. The last he is heard of in the novel,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych],[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], he has gonorrhea.
Catherine is a British nurse working for the Red Cross. Henry’s friend Rinaldi is infatuated with her and introduces her to Henry. Catherine and Henry are attracted to each other and begin to flirt. Almost immediately, Catherine reveals to Henry that the man she had been engaged for eight years had died during the war and that she had joined the Red Cross in order to be near him. She had romantic ideas about what it would be like for him as a soldier and for her as a nurse. However, the war quickly disabused her of her romantic notions.
Frederic Henry maintains the role of an outsider or alien throughout the entire story. He is an American volunteer on the Italian front. People with entirely different backgrounds from his own surround him. Even the woman he falls in love with comes from a culture very different from American culture.
Understanding the characters in Ernest Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms is crucial to understanding the novel. The sparse style of Hemingway’s writing makes it important the reader understands the characters.
Characteristics of Henry
This strong sense of alienation helps create a detachment that lends an almost surreal feeling to many scenes in the novel. It is as if Henry is not personally involved in anything that he describes. He even states upon seeing his son that “he felt no feeling of fatherhood.”
By the end of the story, Henry deserts and goes to find Catherine who is carrying his child. They flee to Switzerland where they spend a beautiful winter together. After a long and difficult delivery, Henry’s son is born dead and Catherine dies of excessive hemorrhaging.
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