Essay PreviewMore ↓
After finishing A Farewell to Arms, I found it difficult to reconcile Judith Fetterley's feminist attack of the novel with my own personal opinions. I agree that Hemingway does kick women to the curb in his portrayal of Catherine, but my reasons for pinning this crime on Hemingway are different from hers'. Although she means well, Fetterley makes the ridiculous claim that by portraying Catherine as an angelic, selflessly loving "woman to end all women," Hemingway disguises misogynistic attitudes and a deep-seeded hatred towards the XX chromosome. This claim is not supported by the text. If we look at Hemingway through the lens of his own words, we find that his misogyny does not spring from a "too good to be true" portrait of Catherine, but rather in his tendency to cast her down into the dirt-Catherine is a dependent, baby-manufacturing trap that stifles Lieutenant Henry: "Poor, poor dear Cat. And this was the price you paid for sleeping together. This was the end of the trap" (320). It is his penchant for sex and his need for womanly comfort that keeps Henry coming back to Catherine, not some notion of "love" or true connection. This is Hemingway's misogyny, however unintentional, unmasked.
But to get a true sense of this "anti-Fetterley" feminist view of the novel, it is important too look at the specifics of Hemingway's construction of Catherine-facts that stand in direct opposition to Fetterley's stated attacks.
First of all, Catherine is not Fetterley's unique and unattainable goddess-she is an object in Henry's universe, a feast of sensations but nothing more. She is akin to good food and good drink: "'I was made to eat. My God, yes. Eat and drink and sleep with Catherine'" (233). Indeed, Henry's thoughts about Catherine, both when he is at the front or by her side, mingle with longings for good wine and reflections on sumptuous meals. In Henry's world, a good Capri would be nice, a nice hunk of cheese would be grand, and sleeping with Catherine would be sublime. These things all equate to the satisfaction of basic human needs. Every now and then, Henry feels a grumbling in his loins-a periodic hunger for the "cheese" between Catherine's legs. Hemingway dissolves Catherine into the least common denominator-the object, devoid of meaning or real importance (when Henry isn't hungry).
How to Cite this Page
"A Feminist Alternative to Fetterley's Criticism of A Farewell to Arms." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Aug 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms Receives Positive Criticism Published in 1929, Ernest Hemingway finished A Farewell to Arms when he was barely 30 years old. Hemingway had been planning on writing about World War I for more than a decade, and chose A Farewell to Arms to be his attempt at a blockbuster, a novel which would sell very well.1 This view is supported by the fact that one of Hemingway's original works, presumably loss in the fiasco of Hadley's luggage, was also a war novel, emphasizing Hemingway's firm belief in the importance of war and love as a theme.... [tags: Farewell Arms Essays]
878 words (2.5 pages)
- This essay will provide a detailed examination of what Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is, particularly mediation, the various techniques of ADR, the advantages and disadvantages of ADR; and whether or not courts should have the authority to compel individuals into undertaking mediation or other forms of ADR. This essay argues against courts having the power to compel litigants into mediation but may be afforded powers to encourage parties to go through mediation at first instance. This essay will base its arguments on whether courts should compel civil litigants to follow the ADR route upon the perceived advantages of ADR and its success rate.... [tags: Alternative Dispute Resolution Essays]
2720 words (7.8 pages)
- INTRODUCTION “Biblical criticism” refers to various methods of studying and investigating the textual content of the Bible. In general, it just describes examining the Bible in a scholarly and critical manner. Therefore when the term “critic” or “criticism” is used in this way it does not essentially denote something negative, but rather a close consideration of the authenticity and historicity of the Biblical text. These literary critics also look into the origins and purposes of the books of the Bible.... [tags: Scripture Analysis, Lower Criticism]
1315 words (3.8 pages)
- The Dangers of a Feminist Perspective of A Farewell to Arms Hemingway's portrayal of Catherine Barkley in A Farewell to Arms is a subject of many debates. I do not agree with Judith Fetterly that Catherine is "too idealistic, too selflessly loving and giving. Catherine's death was the most fitting end to the story. Hemingway's Catherine Barkley may be stereotypical on the surface, but is a much more knowledgeable and strong character underneath. In the early encounter with Henry, Hemingway sets up Catherine's major faults.... [tags: Farewell Arms Essays]
1033 words (3 pages)
- Catherine as "Code Hero" in A Farewell to Arms In the last book of A Farewell to Arms, when the pregnant Catherine Barkley is having painful contractions, Frederic Henry, the narrator and protagonist of the novel, reminds his "wife" that she is "a brave good girl" (FTA 313). A day later, after undergoing a caesarian section and giving birth to a stillborn baby boy, Catherine proves just how brave she is; though she knows she is dying, she still has the dignity and strength to accept such a fate.... [tags: Farewell Arms Essays]
3312 words (9.5 pages)
- Stream of Consciousness in A Farewell to Arms Many important American writers came to prominence during the Jazz Age, but their commonalities often stopped there. From lyrical to sparse, many different styles can be seen among these authors, such as those of Henry James, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway. One stylistic technique, stream of consciousness, was most associated with Joyce. Yet, Hemingway also used this technique with regularity and it is an important element in his war novel, A Farewell to Arms.... [tags: Farewell Arms Essays]
995 words (2.8 pages)
- Imagery in A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway Imagery placed strategically through the novel A Farewell to Arms shows how well Ernest Hemingway is able to prepare the reader for events to come. Catherine Barkley, the English nurse who falls in love with Fredric Henry, an American in the Italian army, states, "I'm afraid of the rain" (125), as they stay in Milan. She goes on to explain "I'm afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it. ... And sometimes I see you dead in it" (126).... [tags: A Farewell to Arms]
3707 words (10.6 pages)
- Ernest Hemingway and A Farewell To Arms "We did not do the things we wanted to do; we never did such things" (Hemingway 13). This single sentence voiced early in Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms by the American protagonist, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, sums up the rather pessimistic and drab tone and mood presented in Hemingway's works, particularly this novel, which also reflects the pessimistic and judgmental mind housed within the author. Regardless of the unhappy circumstances and heart-breaking situations which prevail throughout the novel, A Farewell To Arms certainly deserves a place in a listing of works of high literary merit.... [tags: Farewell Arms Essays]
3202 words (9.1 pages)
- Love and Agony in A Farewell to Arms The vigorous, strapping youth boldly advances into war, rifle in hand, picture of mom in his pocket- hair neatly combed, clean socks. Eagerly he arrives on the sunny front and fights off the enemy with valor, saving whole troops of injured soldiers as he throws them over his shoulders and prances upon the grassy lawn to safety. Between various sequential medal-awarding ceremonies, he meets a radiant young nurse tending the blessed wounded he saved. They fall in love, get married, produce beautiful war babies, and everyone returns home happily.... [tags: Farewell Arms Essays]
946 words (2.7 pages)
- Anatomy of Criticism Introduction In his Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Frye offers a complex theory that aspires to describe a unifying system for literary criticism. It can be argued, however, that in attempting to delineate such an all-inclusive structure, Frye's system eliminates identity in literature. The present essay takes up this argument and offers examples of how identity is precluded by Frye's system as outlined in Anatomy of Criticism. Structure Vs. Identity In Frye's system, the organizing principles that give literature coherence and structure are derived from the myths of ancient Greece and the archetypal imagery found in the Bible.... [tags: Anatomy of Criticism Essays]
1252 words (3.6 pages)
This leads us to another aspect of Hemingway's treatment of Catherine. In the novel, she is a completely dependent and subservient slave to Henry and his desires-she is placed firmly under his heel. This is evident from her dialogue: "'I'm good. Aren't I good? You don't want any other girls, do you?...You see? I'm good. I do what you want'" (106). Through her words, we get a sense that the only thing that concerns Catherine is the level of Henry's satisfaction. She needs his approval; he is the beginning and end of her world. This dependency resurfaces many times in the novel. In Milan, Catherine works herself to the bone all day, so that she can have sex with Henry all night. Throughout this period, her greatest worry is that she doesn't
stack up to the girls that he has had in the past: "'I'll say just what you wish and I'll do what you wish and then you will never want any other girls'" (105). When she is pregnant, her thoughts and concerns continue to center completely around Henry's happiness: "'But after she's born and I'm thin again I'm going to cut it (her hair) and then I'll be a fine new and different girl for you'" (304). Even during her long and arduous labor, Catherine's single worry is that she is a burden on Henry: "'Oh, I wanted so to have this baby and not make trouble, and now I'm all done and all gone to pieces and it doesn't work'" (322). Fetterley might claim that this amounts to "selfless-love," but I think this phrase gives Catherine (and Hemingway) too much credit. Catherine, as portrayed in the text, seems more like an obedient dog then a virtuous, unselfish being of light; she is like a mutt that serves its master because it has no one else and cannot survive on its own.
By the end of the novel, Hemingway succeeds in portraying Catherine as both an object and a docile subject in Lieutenant Henry's kingdom. This construction diminishes Catherine's character and allows Henry (and Hemingway) to view her and the baby completely in terms of the burden they entail. They are a "trap"-flames that burn the log that "Henry the ant" scurries around on. This makes it much easier for Hemingway to kill off Catherine and wash Henry's hands of all responsibility-the final pieces in his misogynistic puzzle. This harsh take is a more tenable alternative to Fetterley's feminist attacks on the novel.
Fetterley, Judith. The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1978.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995.
Spofford, William K. "Beyond the Feminist Perspective: Love in A Farewell to Arms." Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual 1978. Eds. Matthew J. Bruccoli and Richard Layman. Detroit: Gale Research, 1979. 307-12.