heroarms Henry’s Personal Code in A Farewell to Arms

heroarms Henry’s Personal Code in A Farewell to Arms

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Henry’s Personal Code in A Farewell to Arms


A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway is a story of Love, war and one Man’s pursuit of finding his own personal code in order to make a separate peace. Fredrick Henry is an American who serves as a lieutenant in the Italian army to a group of ambulance drivers. Hemingway portrays Frederick as a lost man searching for order and value in his life. Catherine Barkley is an English volunteer nurse who serves in Italy. She is considered very experienced when it comes to love and loss since she has already been  confronted with the death of a loved one when her fiancé was killed earlier in the war. Their love affair must survive the obstacles of World War. The background of war-torn Italy adds to the tragedy of the love story. The war affects the emotions and values of each character. The love between Catherine and Frederick must outlast long separations, life-threatening wartime situations, and the uncertainty of each other's whereabouts or condition. This novel is a beautiful love story of two people who need each other in a period of upheaval.

At the start of the novel, Frederick is given a vacation to leave the war for a period of time in order to relax. He befriends a priest because he admires the fact that the priest lives his life by a set of values that give him an orderly lifestyle. He is told by the priest to go to Abruzzi, there in the mountains he can relax and forget about the worries of war. But Fredrick is hardheaded and listens to his friends and decides to go to Naples, there he  drinks and travels from one house of prostitution to another and yet he is  discontent because his life is very unsettled. This vacation was his free ticket out of the war but Fredrick does not realize nor understand how bad this war is. He decides to return due to his pride and patriotism.

A close friend of Fredrick, Rinaldi is also a Lt. In the army. Together they share stories and interests. Rinaldi is a strong man, one who understands what war is about. Through numerous attempts of lessons given to Fredrick, he still doesn’t understand. Rinaldi constantly calls Fredrick “baby” which is an accurate description of him. He is still a child and is not aware of the true meaning of war, love and life.

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Upon his return, Fredrick Henry continues with his duties as an ambulance driver. He is greeted by the mechanics who were also good friends with Fredrick. They would always eat and drink with each other and share stories and jokes.

Through Rinaldi, Frederick becomes involved with Catherine Barkley. He slowly falls in love with her and, in his love for her, he finds commitment.  Catherine already possesses the knowledge that her own life cannot be dependent on another. She learned this lesson through the death of her fiancé. Her love for Frederick is what her life revolves around, yet she knows not to rely on him to be the order in her life. Had she been dependent on Frederick for the order in her life, she would not have been able to allow him to participate in the war for fear of losing her own stability with his death. Their relationship brings some order and value to his life. Catherine is the one that has to set Fredrick Henry straight and make him become aware of what life really is.  Fredrick Henry is excited by  the war and every day it becomes worse The cold temperature and rain only bring more havoc as disease and sickness adds to the growing number of deaths. Catherine describes the war as in contrast to the battle of the Somme, where an exuberant number of people lost their lives foolishly.

CHANGE THE FOLLOWING PLOT SUMMARY INTO A QUOTE TO SUPPORT YOUR IDEA INSTEAD OF PARAPHRASING.  DOING SO WILL HELP TO MAKE YOUR PAPER MORE CLEAR AND TO THE POINT. On duty one day, Fredrick drives down the road and confronts a man with hernia limping down the road. Fredrick offers the man help, the man clearly does not want to be helped. Fredrick insists on helping the man, because it was the right thing to do in his eye. Fredrick without even knowing just committed murder. The man with the hernia would only be fixed and thrown back in the front lines where he would be killed. Had Fredrick let the man go he would have been a free man. It is clear that Fredrick has no personal code of ethics. Perhaps Henry has a code of ethics but that code is loyal to the Army and, therefore, he must be loyal to the laws of the Army.  He is simply following through on what he is expected to do. he is expected To follow the rules and obey the high-ranking officers.

            Fredrick Henry decides to lead the Italian army in the retreat. Fredrick knows that he has no clue about the area, but because of the stripes he has  and the title he is given he immediately presumes he is superior and  capable of such tasks. With all the army as his responsibility Fredrick leads them into enemy territory without knowing endangering their lives. But he is lucky and he is not discovered.

Frederick sees the losing Italian army as total chaos and disorder where  he had previously seen discipline and control. He can no longer remain a  part of something that is so disorderly and so, he deserts the Italian army.  Frederick's desertion from the Italian army is the turning point of the novel. This is the significance of the title, A Farewell to Arms. When Frederick puts aside his involvement in the war, he realizes that Catherine is the order and value in his life and that he does not need anything else to give meaning to his life.

Until the conclusion of the novel, Frederick still relies on Catherine as the source of order in his life. With the end of their affair when Catherine dies giving birth to their child, Frederick realizes that he cannot depend on any one person, such as Catherine, or any thing, such as religion, war, or frivolity, for order and discipline. Hemingway describes Frederick's enlightenment best in the final paragraph of the novel when Frederick sees Catherine's corpse for the first and last time.  Frederick's reaction was that "it was like saying good-by to a statue."  Frederick realizes that Catherine was only a symbol of the order and strength in his life. Strength to face life must come from within him and only he will be able to get himself through his own life. He will have to learn to depend on himself. Frederick realizes this and is able to get on with his life on his own. "After a while [he] went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain." He did not mourn or feel like his own life had ended with her death, rather he was able to continue on with his newfound inner strength and face his world alone. He finally understood what a man really is, and how to make that separate peace he  looked so hard for.

 This novel succeeds in getting Hemingway's message across. Frederick’s realization causes the reader to reflect on his/her own life and on what  institutions they depend on in their own lives. I enjoyed this novel because I learned along with Frederick that I must face my life on my own. The strength to face my problems cannot come from any other source because no other source can ever be as permanent as the strength that I can find within myself.




THE PAPER SEEMS TO FOCUS ON HENRY’S PERSONAL CODE, MORE SO THAN ANYTHING ELSE. FOCUS YOUR PAPER ONLY ON THAT TOPIC AND ORGANIZE THAT TOPIC INTO A THESIS STATEMENT.  AN EXAMPLE OF A THESIS STATEMENT COULD BE: A Farewell to Arms is a story of a man’s pursuit of finding his own personal code in order to make peace with himself.  His pursuit consists of three stages in that he tries to find order and discipline, first, in the army, then through Catherine Barkely and lastly through himself.  THEN DEVOTE A PARAGRAPH TO EACH OF THE THREE POINTS. 



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