Discussion of Stereotypes in a Farewell to Arms

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"All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened," Hemingway wrote just five years after publishing A Farewell to Arms, a novel written about the war in Italy, which is ironic because A Farewell to Arms can be seen as a semi-autobiographical novel, as some of the events that occur in the novel are based off of Hemingway's own life. The parallels from the novel and Hemingway's life are evident-- the protagonist, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, is an ambulance driver in the Italian army, just as Hemingway himself was an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, serving in Italy. Hemingway also fell in love with a nurse, however her name was not Catherine Barkley, as it is in the novel, it was Agnes von Kurowsky. Hemingway and Kurowsky's love has been described as both "a passionate love affair" and "a simple romantic interlude." Hemingway seems to have based his protagonist's love interest on Agnes, as well as one of his wives (Mellow, 47-68). Even though Hemingway seems to have based his characters on real people, some argue that his female characters are one-dimensional and flat, and the male characters other than the protagonist are stereotypical and base. Ernest Hemingway, in his novel A Farewell to Arms, characterizes males and females in several ways, typically sticking to the stereotypes he is known for, the virile, strong male, and the passive, weak female; the main female character, Catherine Barkley seems to adhere to this stereotype for the entirety of the novel, but the protagonist, Lieutenant Frederic Henry evolves, sometimes playing this role, but in other instances opening up in ways Hemingway's male characters typically do not. Hemingway has often been criticized for being a sexist an... ... middle of paper ... ... New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995. Print. BookTagsEditDelete Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. London: Arrow, 1993. Print. BookTagsEditDelete Hemingway, Ernest. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. New York, 1936. Print. BookTagsEditDelete Mellow, James R. Hemingway: a Life without Consequences. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992. Print. BookTagsEditDelete "The Portrayal of Women in Hemingway’s Short Stories–Jennifer Harris." THE QUATRAIN. 08 Feb. 2009. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. . WebsiteTagsEditDelete Recla, Amy K. The Development of Hemingway's Female Characters: Catherine from A Farewell to Arms to The Garden of Eden. Diss. University of South Florida, 2008. Print. DissertationTagsEditDelete Traber, Daniel S. "Performing the Feminine in A Farewell to Arms." The Hemingway Review 24.2 (2005): 28-40. Print.

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