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Essay on The Hero in A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

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Ernest Hemingway defined a hero as, “A man who lives correctly, following the ideals of honor, courage and endurance in a world that is sometimes chaotic, often stressful, and always painful.” It is blatantly apparent that Henry, the protagonist of A Farewell to Arms, did not exemplify any of these traits at all in the beginning of the novel. However, as the book progressed, Henry gradually learned how to be a “Hemingway Hero”, and he eventually progressed to the point where he completely embodied all that is expected of such. It is crucial to realize, however, that Henry did not become a textbook example of a Hemingway Hero overnight. It would have been absolutely impossible for Henry to become the man he was at the end of the novel without two very important things: his experiences brought on by the war and Catherine Barkley.
Throughout all of his works, Ernest Hemingway builds a hero that possesses a set of unique attributes. Yes, the Hemingway hero is courageous, calm in the face of danger, and selfless. They are also free-spirited, existential, humble, and possess self-discipline; however, what really sets a Hemingway Hero apart from your average well-to-do man is his perspective on the world. Death is a potent theme in Hemingway’s works and plays a vital role in Farewell to Arms. A Hemingway Hero is judged by how well he can handle adverse situations, above all being death. Staying strong in the face of death itself and truly grasping the finality of death is what makes a Hemingway Hero unique. In addition, their outlook on death also leads these heroes to believe their existence to be meaningless. All Hemingway Heroes are fated to lose their battle with life because they will all eventually die. Ernest Hemingway use...


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... you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve (Hemingway 72).” Catherine made Henry to a complete 180. She made him want to build himself into a better person. Henry was better around Catherine, and it is indubitable that without her, Henry would never have become the exemplary man he was at the end of the novel.
To conclude, Henry did, indeed, transform into a Hemingway Hero by the end of the novel as a result of his personal experiences and the love he shared with Catherine. Henry did not blossom into a Hemingway Hero overnight; rather he slowly grew into a person who exemplifies all that a Hemingway Hero is. Unfortunately for Henry, he lost all that ever mattered to him in the process, making him a tragic example of the failings of love and war.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner, 1957. Print.


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