A Farewell to Arms

The identify of Frederick Henry in A Farewell to Arms

November 2, 2020 by Essay Writer

Ernest Hemingway’s celebrated novel, A Farewell to Arms, discusses the hierarchy of nationality, class, and power during wartime. Frederic Henry finds himself an American serving in the Italian army as an ambulance driver. The United States somehow becomes glorified in the eyes of the Italian population, and a sense of eminence is thrust upon Henry. He never fully integrates into the Italian army, nor does he wish to do so. Henry is decidedly separated, but more importantly, his nationality establishes for him a higher status. Henry’s character is influenced by his American citizenship. This progression is defined by the economic gap as well as his interactions with his Italian comrades and regular citizens.

Henry is modest, almost to the point of shyness. He refuses to be recognized for heroism after an explosion in Chapter Nine that takes the lives of three men. He is wounded as well, but “would rather wait,” for medical attention, as “there are much worse wounded” than he. An English doctor scoffs, “Don’t be a bloody hero,” and falsely informs the Italian hands that “he is the legitimate son of President Wilson (58).” This elevated status brings Henry to the top of the list for treatment. Later, Henry’s friend Rinaldi informs him, “Everybody is proud of you…I am positive you will get the silver.” Rinaldi tries to play Henry up in order to win him a medal, but again, Henry quickly changes the subject (63). Henry’s humility is apparent; whether he is inherently shy or embarrassed by misleadingly brought-on attention is unclear. His position as an American certainly facilitates things, but Henry still refuses to accept his separateness.

Though divided by nationality, Henry manages to become friendly with the Italians in his troop. While drinking one night in Chapter Twelve, they ask Henry to predict the course of events regarding the war. He speculates, while drunk, that the United States will declare war on nearly everyone. The Italians are open to hearing and accepting Henry’s theories, which demonstrates their trust in the American opinion. They tend to value Henry’s opinion over their own. Henry is referred to as “Signor Tenente,” Mr. Lieutenant, not out of anonymity, but out of respect. His title commands respect, as there are many positions below him. When he is brought to an American hospital, he is, interestingly, refused a room (80). Henry is clearly unfit, but perhaps now that he is in an official manifestation of his own country, he is demoted from a type of celebrity to an equal.

Henry’s interactions with common Italians are similarly insightful. He often requests alcohol while in the hospital, against the nurses’ orders. The porter fetches drinks for Henry regardless (84). In Chapter Fourteen, Henry receives a rude visit from an Italian barber. The porter misinforms the barber that Henry is an Austrian officer; therefore, the barber’s speech is snappy and blunt. After learning Henry is American, the barber is unquestionably embarrassed. The porter resurfaces in Chapter Thirty-three. He and his wife constantly ask Henry if they can do anything for him, offer him breakfast, but always refuse pay. He leaves the porter’s for his friend’s house, Simmons, to get civilian clothes. Simmons welcomes Henry into his closet. Henry is noticeably uncomfortable in the clothes; he confirms this in the first sentence of Chapter Thirty-four: “In civilian clothes I felt a masquerader.” Aviators in the same train compartment as Henry avoided looking at him, and were “very scornful of a civilian [his] age (221).” When Henry transforms himself into a regular Italian, he falls dramatically on the social hierarchy.

Money (lire) is also a noteworthy component of Henry’s elevated status. Henry maintains this by always tipping generously or offering money during appropriate events. He tips the stretcher-bearers in the hospital, though they drop him numerous times, and is repeatedly saluted.

The young girls whom Bonello picks up in Chapter Twenty-nine are dismissed with a ten-lira note, and they held the money tightly and “looked back as though they were afraid [he] might take the money back (188).” Though Henry willingly hands out money, he is often refused. As mentioned before, the porter and his wife are willing only to give and not take (218). During a particularly awful hangover in Chapter Twelve, Henry tries to tip a soldier who has brought him a “pulpy orange drink,” but the soldier just shakes his head (76). This speaks much for the Italian people, who (among other things) are portrayed as unselfish. This also could indicate that some Italians, though undeniably poor, are somewhat embarrassed by Henry’s wealth. Henry’s bountiful wallet secures America in its higher status.

Sometimes it seems as if Henry has a real interest in integrating into the Italian culture, but continues to keep himself separate, American. Henry’s character advances from a meek expatriate to a commanding American. As he becomes more aware of his status, he progressively embraces the power handed to him by his nationality. He begins to not only accept, but enforce his authority. The one time he is challenged by two sergeants in Chapter Twenty-nine, Henry shoots them. “You’re not our officer,” they say, but this does not convince Henry to back down. He conquers the opposition with a pistol (186), and reaffirms all perceptions of himself as an American expatriate in the Italian army.

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An essay on the narrative structre of A Farewell to Arms

November 2, 2020 by Essay Writer

Ernest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell to Arms, follows a distinct narrative structure. Each component of the plot – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution – is contained within a book. This definite sectioning allows the audience to follow and map the plot of the story.

The first book of the narrative contains the exposition, or introduction to the story. The protagonist, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, is an American serving in the Italian Navy during World War I. He is an officer working as an ambulance driver. Another central character, Catherine Barkley, is also introduced during this book. Catherine is a British nurse who volunteered to serve in the war. At this stage in the novel, the characters are in Italy, fighting to prevent the Austro-Hungarian forces from joining the Germans on the Western front. Although an initial conflict is not obvious, Hemingway emphasizes the scenery surrounding the war, suggesting that the war and Italy are central to the story line. At the end of this book, Frederic is wounded, and transferred to a hospital in Milan for x-rays and treatment. This shift in setting sets the stage for the next plot component.

The second book in the story encompasses the rising action. At this point in the story, Henry is in the hospital in Milan where he is told that he must wait six months before undergoing surgery. Feeling as though this recovery time is far too long, he meets with another doctor who agrees to expedite the process. In the mean time, Catherine is also transferred to the Milan hospital. At this time, the pair’s relationship becomes more serious and important to the story. Soon, the couple are deeply in love, and they spend most nights together. After many months, the time for Henry to return to the field approached. On one particular night, Catherine admits that she is three months pregnant, but insists that he should not worry on her behalf. The book ends with Henry on a train, returning to the front lines.

The climax of the story is contained within the third book. Upon his return to duty, Henry is instructed to go to the Bainsizza to take command of a fleet of ambulances. He spends the rest of the day catching up with old friends, and in the morning, sets off for his new command. The war is intensifying, and there are rumors that the Austrians have broken through the Italian lines. The next night, the Italian army begins to retreat, and Henry is instructed to leave the wounded soldiers and instead use the ambulances to carry hospital equipment. After spending hours on the road, stuck in an immotile caravan, Henry decides that if they are ever to make it to the fall back positions, the ambulances must take back roads. Almost to their destination, one of the ambulances gets stuck in the mud, and the group begins to hear bombing coming from the main road. Henry sees German soldiers and the group runs, although one soldier is shot in the process. Henry and the others spend the night in a barn. The next morning, they head for the Tagliamento River, and as they are crossing, a member of the police grabs Henry. He manages to escape by jumping into the river and eventually hopping a train. At the end of the book, he comes to the realization that he will not return to the army or see his comrades again, but comforts himself in imagining where he and Catherine will go once they are reunited.

Book Four follows the falling action of the story. The train drops Henry in Milan, where he changes into civilian clothing and learns that Catherine is in Stresa. In Stresa, the barman in Henry’s hotel offers to help Henry track down Catherine. He succeeds and sets off for her hotel. Catherine is with Miss Ferguson. The three share a meal before Catherine joins Henry at his hotel for the evening. The couple realizes that they must flee to Switzerland. A few days pass and one night, the barman warns that Henry is to be arrested in the morning. Henry borrows his boat and sets off. They row all night before arriving in Switzerland, and when they do, Catherine and Henry are arrested. The couple conceals their true identity and are released. They decide to continue onto Monetreux. This book concludes any lingering, major events and alludes to the final resolution of the story.

The fifth and final book of the narrative concludes in tragedy. Catherine and Henry spend many months together, happy, in Switzerland. As Catherine’s due date approaches, they move closer to the hospital. Early one morning, Catherine goes into a painful labor, and requires gas to lessen the intensity. Eventually, the doctor decides that a cesarean section is necessary. Henry does not want to go into the operating room with Catherine, and beforehand, she confides that she feels broken and may die. Catherine delivers a baby boy, whom Henry has no interest in. A nurse explains to him that the baby was a stillborn, and when Henry returns to Catherine’s room, he contemplates the finality and inevitability of death. The next morning, Catherine hemorrhages and fears she will die. She goes unconscious and continues hemorrhaging until she dies. Henry returns to her room to say goodbye, but finds little comfort in this. The story closes as he walks back to his hotel in the rain.

A Farewell to Arms follows a common narrative structure: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. He gives each component its own book, clarifying the plot and enhancing the story.

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The Legacy of Ernest Hemingway

April 28, 2020 by Essay Writer

Ernest Miller Hemingway is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 21st century. Best known for his novels and short stories, he was a very gifted author and war correspondent. He was awarded many prizes in his lifetime including, the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953.

His writing ability and uniqueness cannot be compared to any modern author we have today. Ernest Hemingway, an American journalist, short story writer, and journalist influenced the American literary scene by writers who consciously imitate his autobiographical style of writing and the impact his emotional life has on readers. Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park Illinois on July 21, 1899. He was the second child born to his mother Grace Hall Hemingway and his father Lawrence Edmonds Hemingway. Ernest grew up with four sisters until he was 15 years old when he got a much-desired brother. His mother, a religious woman, was active in church affairs and led her son to play the cello and sing in the school choir. Ernest came to admire his father, a physician, who taught him how to hunt and fish. In the summers, Ernest and his family enjoyed time in northern Michigan where he often attended his father on professional calls.

In high school, Ernest earned a popular reputation as a scholar and an athlete on the swim and football team. The beginning of his writing career began in the halls of his own school where he wrote the school newspaper called the Trapeze. Influenced by a popular author at the time named Ring Lardner, Ernest usually wrote humorous pieces. He graduated from Oak Park High School in 1917. Despite his success in high school, Ernest ran away from his home twice. Right out of high school, his first real chance to run away came in 1917 when the United States entered World War I. He was first denied entry into the military due to poor eyesight, which he inherited from his mother. Instead, he decided to get a job at a newspaper company called the Kansas City Star. Ernest wrote many short stories, short paragraphs, sentences, and comparisons. He was obligated to follow the companies guidelines, which helped him to develop his own personal, simple style of writing that would continue to influence millions in the future. He then volunteered for the American Red Cross as an ambulance driver in 1918.

While in combat, Ernest was badly injured by an exploding mortar shell. His legs were nearly blown off by the fragments and it required many surgeries to save them. Ernest received a medal from the Italian government because he was the first American soldier to be wounded in Italy since the start of World War I. During his recovery, Ernest met his first girlfriend named Agnes von Kurowsky. They vowed to spend the rest of their life together and even planned to get married once Ernest healed and moved back to the states. When the war ended in 1918, Ernest was eager to start his new life with Agnes in the United States. He moved back to his hometown only to find a letter from his girlfriend. She broke off the relationship and Ernest could not be any more devastated. He fell into a deep pit of depression. Moving back to the states was not as he was expecting because the excitement of Oak Park is nothing compared to the adventures he faced at war. Ernest lived about a year in his parents home recovering from the pain he experienced during the war. Hemingway soon found himself as a feature editor at the Toronto Star. Living in Chicago for work, he met the love of his life named Hadley Richardson. The two fell in love at first sight and exchanged wedding vows on September 1921. Shortly after that, Ernest received a promotion to work for Toronto Star in Europe. The couple moved to Paris, France where Ernest would experience the happiest years of his life.

One of Ernest Hemingway’s most renowned pieces of literature is A Farewell to Arms. This book is very much an autobiography of Ernest Hemingway himself. First published in 1929, A Farewell to Arms is set by an ambulance driver named Lieutenant Frederic Henry during the Italian campaign of World War I. It describes a love affair between Frederic and a nurse named Catherine Barkley. Frederic attempts to seduce Catherine, but is not looking for a serious relationship. His feelings grow for her when he is hit by a mortar shell and sent to a hospital in Milan where Catherine is working. Fredric spends the summer in the hospital, getting closer and closer to Catherine. After many months, Fredric’s knee heals and he is sent back to the front. A day after his leave, Catherine announces that she is three months pregnant. Fredric returns to his unit where he learns that Italian forces are under the threat of being defeated.

After the German troops began to break through the barricades, the Italians are ready to retreat. Fredric and a couple of other soldiers drive the ambulance and pick up a few lost sergeants and panicked girls. When they catch up to the other retreating soldiers, everything has fallen into anarchy. The police are taking people into custody for questioning but Fredric learns that, instead, they are being executed. The battle police take him in but, knowing this information, he escapes and jumps into the river. Fredric gets to a safe spot and then boards a train to go back to Milian. He reunites with Catherine for a while until he learns that he is about to be arrested.

The couple flees to Switzerland in a rowboat and comes to an agreement with the Swiss that allows them to freely stay in the country. The two lovers finally start their own, beautiful life for a couple of months. During the spring, Catherine goes into labor and the birth is much more difficult and painful than what was expected. She gives birth to a healthy, baby boy but dies of a hemorrhage later that night. Fredric struggles to say goodbye to Catherine and he and the baby walk back to the hotel in the rain. One of the biggest themes in this story is the depressing reality of how life at war actually is. Most people do not really think about how chaotic war can be. They don’t really expect the same team to kill other members on their side. The scene after the retreat proves this perfectly. The soldiers were outraged that they had to retreat from the battle so they began to execute the people who they thought was behind it, hence their own fellow soldiers. Another notable aspect from the story is that fact that it is in first person. The narrator is an omniscient narrator who tells the story in past tense. It can be thought of as a memorial to Catherine, the baby, for all the fallen soldiers, or a combination of the three. Ernest Hemingway cannot deny the fact that he was in war himself and much of the words in the book are about his own life-changing experiences.

Another distinguished story written by Hemingway is The Old Man and the Sea. Written in 1951 and published in 1952, it tells the story of Santiago, a Cuban fisherman who struggles to catch a fish after many years of bad luck. A young neophyte by the name of Manolin has been accomponing Santiago on his luckless fishing trips. He has been forbidden by his parents to fish with Santiago, but instead to fish with a more accomplished fisherman. Despite the fact, Manolin still visits Santiago and helps with the fishing gear. Santiago soon decides to go out into the middle of the Gulf Stream, confident that he will finally catch a fish after eighty-four days. The next day, he takes his boat far into the middle of the Gulf and sets out his line. Around noon, Santiago catches a huge fish that is surely a Marlin. Unable to reel it in with the size of the fish, he holds on the fishing pole for two days and two nights. The third day, the fish eases on the line and Santiago uses his last remaining strength to pull it toward the top of the water and kill it with a harpoon. He drags it into the boat and sets sail for home.

During the sail back, Santiago is visited by multiple sharks who are attracted by the Marlin’s blood. He kills off many of the sharks but they eventually overtake him and eat away all the flesh from the fish. Santiago finally arrives home and falls into a deep sleep. When he awakes, he finds an abundant amount of tourists gathering around his fish skeleton. One of the tourists measured the Marlin to be about eighteen feet long. Manolin is relieved to see that Santiago has returned home after worrying for many days. He brings Santiago the local newspaper and some coffee and the two decide to fish together again, as a team. Throughout the entire story, Santiago shows a great amount of perseverance. He does not give up after not catching single fish for eighty-four days. He never lets the fishing pole go when he couldn’t reel in the Marlin. And he tries everything he could to not let the sharks have his fish. Perseverance is a major character trait that our society lacks. If something is hard, most people will give up. They don’t want to try to do something if it is too hard for them.

Another major symbolism in this story is Santiago’s relationship with the natural world. He talks about the birds in the sky as if they were his friends, the sharks as personal enemies, and the sea as a woman. He justifies peoples actions by saying that it is what they are born to do. This symbolism shows a great amount of characterization about Ernest Hemingway himself. Hemingway expressed a great deal on how he felt about the world. He writes constantly about his opinions on the world and how people behave in the world. Hemingway, like many other authors, uses his writing as a platform to uphold the beliefs that he views as correct, reasonable, and fair. Ernest Hemingway, as successful as he was, fought a battle with mental health issues and depression that were never addressed by the people in his life.

When he was found dead in his Idaho home in 1961, his wife was very reluctant to accept that the actual cause of his death was by suicide. She insisted to all his family and reporters that his death was by accident. She claimed that he was cleaning one of his guns when his hand slipped on the trigger and accidentally shot him in the head. It took a couple months for Mrs. Hemingway to finally admit that her husband intentionally killed himself. His father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, was usually very strict and reportedly beat this children on multiple occasions. He was not very loving and caring as a father should be. While living in Florida, Ernest received the news about his father’s suicide. He admittedly blamed his mother as the cause of his father’s suicide which built up a bitter anger toward her.

After his father killed himself in 1928, Ernest wrote in a letter to his mother in law, I’ll probably go the same way. Pain suffered from childhood will haunt you through your entire life. Hemingway reportedly began to drink more and become more violent after the death of his father. Many suspect that the Hemingway family suffered from mental health issues. There have been at least five recorded suicides stretching over about four generations. Ernest’s father, siblings Ernest, Ursula, Leices, and his granddaughter Margaux. Ernest’s youngest son, Gregory, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, making him the third generation of male Hemingways to undergo the illness.

Ernest suffered from alcoholism and mood swings throughout his entire life. He attempted to ease his pain by writing, drinking alcohol, huning, and fishing, but eventually the overwhelming pain in his life caught up to him. His writing styles were usually very disheartening as a way to let out his painful moods and suicidal impulses. This style of writing moved the hearts of all Americans and inspired us to live a better life. Ernest Hemingway was found dead on July 2, 1961. He was 61 years old. There is no doubt that Ernest Hemingway shaped the way we see modern, American literature. He introduced us to new and innovative styles of writing. He was one of the most personal writers in history due to his autobiographical style of writing. Hemingway’s life has impacted millions around the world. Every person can find some way to relate to the life of Ernest Hemingway, from his love of the outdoors, his wife and family, his personal struggles, or even his writings.

Each event that happened in his life shaped him into the outstanding writer that we now know of today. Ever since his death in 1961, many authors have wrote about Hemingway’s entire life from birth to death. There is such of an abundance of information that comes from Hemingway’s life that nobody has truly gotten every detail perfect. No other author can ever compare to the uniqueness of writing that was Ernest Hemingway. Writers have tried to imitate his autobiographical style of writing, but have never succeeded in influencing the American literary scene as much as Hemingway has done. The legacies that Ernest Hemingway has left behind will never be forgotten.

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Frederick Henry in A “Farewell to Arms”

April 28, 2020 by Essay Writer

The most compelling character in A Farewell to Arms was Frederick Henry. The main conflict he faces is his inability to choose between Catharine or serving the military. Henry is almost constantly at a crossroads.

He could be a peaceful, god loving man, like the priest, or have a pleasant disposition with an inclination to violence like Rinaldi. In the end, the only thing he worships is Catharine, and the only physically violent act he commits is killing the sergeant. He is a fully realized creation who is three dimensional and he feels real. He’s a deserter who drinks and lies, but he also wanted to do right by helping soldiers as an ambulance driver, and he almost never fights with Catharine. When he does finally fall in love with her for real, he feels guilty for treating her poorly, suddenly I felt lonely and empty. I had treated seeing Catherine very lightly, (Hemingway, 44). Her death only amplifies every slight he committed towards her.

A Farewell to Arms is written from a first person perspective. Frederick is an alcoholic, and heavily traumatized from both the war and the death of Catharine. This has the building blocks for an unreliable narrator, but as the book progresses Frederick admits to lying, and it allows the reader to trust him more. I had not killed any but I was anxious to pleaseand I said I had killed plenty, (Hemingway, 101). He even admits to things he thinks are shameful, like resenting the baby Catharine was pregnant with. The mood and tone swing wildly from Frederick’s despair, to domesticity with Catharine, and back to despair again. The use of weather to dictate the mood in a scene has the reader on edge whenever rain is mentioned, and lulled into a false sense of security whenever it snows. The emotional roller coaster has a strong effect on the reader. Hemingway writes with heavy dialogue, and it gives the book a more modern feel, but it comes at the expense of roundabout conversations that could have been much shorter. The dialogue between Catherine and Frederick feels more like a mantra in the beginning, as if by saying they only have eyes for one another, it would breathe some life into the game that they play. Their romance as a whole is unappealing, but it helps Frederick become more appealing. He views the war in a journalistic, objective way. In one passage his morning breakfast is held at the same thematic level as living through a bombing. That’s not to say it had no effect on him, but rather that he views it as something of a background hum in most of his life, rather than a catastrophic event.

The setting of A Farewell to Arms is spread out across Italy and Switzerland in the early 1900’s during world war one. All of the characters are in some way affected by this. A stable marriage isn’t something many of the soldiers can rely on, so they turn to the prostitutes. Having casual sex with no emotional connection leads Frederick to become immature when it comes to forming a romantic relationship with a woman. Rinaldi’s punishment is syphilis, and it is heavily implied that Catharine’s sex with Frederick outside of wedlock is the cause of her stillborn baby, and eventually her death.

Weather is an important motif in A Farewell to Arms. Typically, rain would be a harbinger of new growth, or it is equated to a baptismal thunderstorm. Snow is usually something to be feared, and is associated with hypothermia and death. Hemingway turns this on it’s head. The snow is what causes the fighting to cease, There will be no more offensive now that the snow has come,”” (Hemingway, 8). The rain is what must be feared. Catharine confesses that she sometimes has visions of Frederick dead in the rain, which makes the symbolism clear to the reader. Weather also plays a crucial role during Catharine’s labour. The fog in the mountains during their retreat turns to rain, a sense of foreboding arises. It rains through most of her operation, and the ray of sunshine that appears fades just as quickly as it came. When Frederick is told that Catherine has died from her hemorrhage, he walks back to his hotel in the rain.

All of the men in A Farewell to Arms fulfill the traditional role of war hardened men. They drink, they have sex, they fight, but they aren’t all caricatures of masculinity. Their depictions always come at the expense of their foil. Rinaldi’s prowess with women contrasts with the priest’s chastity, and the surgeon seems so capable because he has the three meek doctors behind him. Rinaldi is physically affectionate and cares deeply for Frederick. Eventually Frederick learns to love Catherine. The women on the other hand, often fill the role of either a prostitute or a nurse. They mostly abide by strict morals. Catherine offhandedly mentions that she feels dirty for having sex outside of wedlock, and Helen is scandalized when she learns that Catherine is pregnant.

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Frederic Henry’s Traumas and Pain in “A Farewell to Arms”

April 28, 2020 by Essay Writer

As we know, PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, which is warfare for Frederic Henry in this novel. In A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry’s trauma and general breakdown in his life can best be understood in terms of PTSD, because it explains: his self-doubts and depression; his detachment from the other characters; and his inability to help himself. Throughout the novel, Frederic’s recollections show various catalysts for PTSD.

Even though Frederic tries to keep calm and forgot about the memories about the past which he suffered in the war, there are certain details flashback into his mind. Frederic Henry has been suffering with a condition of traumatized while he describe the story. Frederic constantly changes his identity because some shocked incidents he experienced such as the death of his wife, Catherine, died when she gave a birth and witnessing of terrible scenes during the war. Frederic describes he is tormented by a series of traumas because he participates in the Great War. Through Frederic’s experiences, seen through the current description of PTSD, the reader has a deeper understanding of the negative effects of war on the individual.

Frederic does not only receive physical wounds but he also memorized which he experienced in the war. Frederic indicates at least three occasions which makes him mentally scared and these contribute to his self-doubts later. Frederic witness a lot death of his comrades, after the first battle is, I sat up straight and as I did so something inside my head moved like the weights on a doll’s eyes and it hit me inside in back of my eyeballs. (Ernest Hemingway: P59) Frederic reveals his inner thoughts when he is looking at the dead body of his ally. Frederic must think of it a lot he can still keep such a deep memory for this particular scene, therefore suggesting he is traumatized from the terrible events that he has experienced and lived through. Frederic can also be suspected to be affected from the way he portrays how the dead bodies were treated. The drops fell very slowly, as they fall from an icicle after the sun has gone. (Ernest Hemingway: P66) After being recovered from the battle, it is clear that Frederic’s mind changed a lot, but he has to see soldiers stepping the dead soldiers’ body like garbage bags. This traumatize Frederic’s mind, as no one can keep calm while their dead friends’ bodies are being thrown out onto the roads, but Frederic shows no immediate react. He does not wish to recall the gruesome image which suggests that the entire ordeal still haunts him. Frederic proves how traumatized he is from the war as he is describing the ‘shelling’, and the series of bombings which is a tactic used during World War I that caused the condition he still has to this day .You saw the flash, then heard the crack, then saw the smoke distort and thin in the wind (Ernest Hemingway: P197) Frederic is good at describing the characteristics of these bombings, yet he never mentions either how unendurable the loud sounds are, or the gruesome scenes of soldiers torn up by the splashing bombs. Both things which are constantly mentioned by others when describing shelling. From his style of narration Frederic is not one who hides the bloody scenes found in a battle. If he does not mention it, Frederic must be still terrified of the shelling and does not want to provoke this particular memory within his mind while narrating. His use of this particular defensive technique of shutting down memories is caution from suffers of severe traumas, and it is clearly shown that Frederic received it from his experiences during the ‘Great War’. All of these examples lead to for the conclusion that Frederic is shell shocked during World War I, and the condition still haunts him while he narrates. These scars from war do not stand alone, as his constant change of identities which baffles him of who he truly is eventually causes permanent damage to his mind that inflicts just as much pain as war traumas.

Frederic’s constant change of identity scars him mentally and leads him to feel detached from the events taking place around him. The war causes so much change for him, which is also a part shows his PTSD symptoms, and he goes through at least two dramatic change: from being a soldier to a normal civilian, from being a free man to a wanted criminal. Frederic’s long experience in the army causes him to forget how to be a normal civilian, which impacts him psychologically. In civilian clothes I felt a masquerader. I had been in uniform a long time and I missed the feeling of being held by your clothes. (Ernest Hemingway: P260) Frederic had been so involved in the war he had become part of it, and once he stopped being surrounded by soldiers and guns, he suddenly felt lost. As if he does not fit in a civilized society to such an extent that even normal clothes feel odd on him. When Frederic narrates this scene, he can still remember this strong feeling, which could suggest he still carries that feeling while he is narrating, which can be a sign of the aftermath of serve experiences. If a person constantly feels as if he does not belong to where he is it may cause of low self-esteem and other side effects from. Frederic’s second change of identity happened even faster than the first one, as he transforms from a free man to a wanted criminal in less than a day. I dressed hearing the rain on the windows.

I did not have much to put in my bag. (Ernest Hemingway: P284) This sudden change can certainly provoke symptoms of depression within Frederic, as it has been only a few days since he was a proud soldier, and now he is wanted by the army. Frederic is lost, he does not know where he is heading, both in physically and mentally. The ‘rain on the windows’ is potentially symbolism used by the traumatized Frederic as he is narrating, for when he looks back at that particular moment, he is leaving the place that shields him from all the rain, which also can be seen as danger and trouble. Frederic’s constant changes of identity continue to torment him when Catherine dies. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died…it did not take her very long to die. (Ernest Hemingway: P355) This is the last and fastest transition Frederic goes through in A Farewell to Arms, and undoubtedly the most painful. From being a father-to-be to suddenly a widower in less than a day, Frederic must have been very confused. It is safe to assume Frederic will be afraid to face any changes in the future, as all the alterations he encountered within the book are always more shocking and negative than the previous, ergo he is traumatized by all the turmoil he receives while going through all three life changing events within A Farewell to Arms. While Frederic is narrating all these events, his loss of emotions proves that he is still suffering from the aftermath from all the changes he has gone through. Not only does the death of Catherine alter Frederic’s identity in life, it is also a huge traumatization for him that still frightens him while he narrates.

Frederic also is narrating while under traumatized by conditions partially due to the death of Catherine. He is mentally injured from this incident because of how he viewed Catherine’s dead body, his loss of reason and his reaction to Catherine’s death. Before leaving the hospital, Frederic says goodbye to Catherine’s body, and the way he described the interaction is crucial to the reason why Frederic is permanently traumatized from the death of Catherine. It was like saying goodbye to a statue (Ernest Hemingway: P355) Frederic loved Catherine, a fact he cannot stress enough. The final farewell towards Catherine’s body is an emotional event, yet when Frederic describes the scene he never mentions any thoughts that passes through his mind, and even more by saying ‘it was like saying goodbye to a statue’ Frederic means he carries no feelings toward Catherine’s body. This is a sign of mental trauma because Frederic has been through so much torment throughout the war, he no longer feels anything about death. The numbness he carries while narrating this scene is a symptom of shell shock, which is why Frederic narrates while being in a traumatic condition. Frederic’s damaged mind is revealed from his immediate loss of common sense after the death of Catherine. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. (Ernest Hemingway: P355) Frederic did not have to walk through the rain. He was allowed to stay in the hospital and spend some time with Catherine’s body until the rain passed. From his actions it seems as he just wanted to go back to the last spot–he and Catherine were together. The moment he walks into the rain, his last bit of sanity is lost, and he fully experiences the last shock that adds to his permanent traumatization that torments him even when he is narrating. Frederic hides all his emotions even while he is narrating. ‘No’, I said. ‘There’s nothing to say.’ (Ernest Hemingway: P355) Frederic explains the event of the death of Catherine without any feelings and emotions. I’m not brave any more, darling. I’m all broken. They’ve broken mw. I know it now. (Ernest Hemingway: P355) This is a sign of denial, which is a defense mechanism that comes from a severe trauma. Frederic is a veteran, so it is common for him to not want to show any weakness, however he does not mention a single word about how sad he is towards Catherine dying, which is unnatural. The only possible explanation for his behavior is he is highly traumatized and he either voluntarily or involuntarily chooses to close off all his emotions in order to appear to remain calm and sane. The above reasons show why Catherine’s death plays an important role in the permanent break down of Frederic’s mind.

The trauma is experienced by Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms has left considerable emotional scars that will shape his life and and the symptoms still haunts him when he is narrating the story. This can be seen from the way he describes his war experiences, the way he hides his emotions when going through the major events in the story and the way he loses common sense after Catherine’s death. However, he is helpless in understanding how this will affect him and he innocently that by simply returning to his homeland he can put all their behind him. This is not only his illusion but that he held by everyone else to at that time. In conclusion, when Frederic narrates the scenes of A Farewell to Arms, the recollections that he is bringing up still hurt him mentally as he suffers permanent traumatization from during the war, while he is going through the important memories and after Catherine’s death.


Hecht, Ben, and Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms: Screenplay. 1957.

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Gatsby and Henry: Obsession Viewed in Two Different Lenses

June 13, 2019 by Essay Writer

Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby revolve around one primary character who serves as a vessel that reveals the major theme of the book. The Great Gatsby chronicles Jay Gatsby’s pursuit of love, while Farewell to Arms is the story of Frederic Henry, a man caught in the midst of love and war. Both Fitzgerald and Hemingway portray these characters, respectively, as detached individuals absorbed by one ideal, but each writer does so in his own distinct style. Fitzgerald exposes Gatsby in a sensual, poetic manner primarily through intricately woven prose. Hemingway, on the other hand, reveals Frederic’s character in a realistic and concrete sense through a combination of literary elements such as dialogue, structure, and form, and through events that transpire in the book. The two authors’ styles are revealed immediately upon the introduction of each character in the novel. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald describes Gatsby as a man who had a “heightened sensitivity to life” but at the same time was so detached from everything that during the lavish parties he threw he “[stood] alone on the marble steps looking from group to group with approving eyes” (Fitzgerald 6, 54). Here, it is immediately established that Gatsby had a sense of vitality within him that did not involve the hedonism and pleasure he surrounds himself with and he himself perpetuates. Furthermore, Fitzgerald describes Gatsby’s smile as one having “an eternal quality of reassurance,” but despite this no one interacted with him, “no one swooned backwards on [him] and no French bob touched [his] shoulder” (52, 55). Through the paradoxical description of Gatsby using poetic and unconventional diction, Fitzgerald establishes an impression of Gatsby that provides the reader a glimpse of his aloof, yet absorbed personality, that persists throughout the book.Hemingway introduces Henry’s character in a different way. The story is written from Henry’s perspective; therefore, there is no explicit or formal description of Henry’s character. Instead, the reader obtains pieces of information through the events that occur at the beginning of the book and the way in which they are constructed. Hemingway gives the reader a deeper glimpse into Henry’s personality as he reveals Henry’s thoughts while he was drunk: “I had gone to no place where the snow was dry and powder [but instead] to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled…” (Hemingway 13). This line serves two purposes. First, it reveals Henry’s guilt over choosing a hedonistic escape over a spiritual one. As Henry describes how he “felt badly” and “could not understand why he had not gone,” Hemingway reveals the slight moral conflict that occurred within Henry as well as how he lacked structure in his life (13). Later on, this lack of structure will result in his strong reliance on Catherine. By revealing the aimless way he lived his life pre-Catherine, Hemingway enhances the importance Henry placed on their relationship. Also, this line reveals how Hemingway employs structure to reveal Henry’s mindset: Henry’s fragmented thought pattern while he was drunk was reflected in the disjointed sentences and words in the passage. In contrast to Fitzgerald, Hemingway uses very simple language-straightforward and concise-in revealing Henry’s thoughts and emotions. He also employs structure to reveal a facet of his character’s mind that is raw and uncensored. Both Fitzgerald and Hemingway provide the reader with glimpses of their characters’ detachment right from the beginning, but Fitzgerald does so in a way that is poetic and emotional while Hemingway accomplishes the task by providing realities such as events and thoughts from which the reader can draw conclusions.Fitzgerald and Hemingway continue to develop their characters throughout the book through various, distinct ways. Fitzgerald reveals Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy numerous times and conveys this obsession to the reader via the character Nick, the narrator and a character who observes the events as they occur. As the book progresses, the reader sees just how much Gatsby loves Daisy, how he was so “consumed by wonder at Daisy’s presence” that he “revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes” (Fitzgerald 97). Nick’s observations provide the reader with a sense of just how enamored Gatsby was with Daisy while Fitzgerald’s lyrical articulation of these observations invokes relative feelings in the reader. Similarly, Hemingway develops Henry’s character much like Gatsby in a sense that both characters’ lives were dominated by one thing: their love for a woman. Henry’s devotion to Catherine is evident in his conversations with where he says that he wants her to “ruin him” and when he repeatedly says that “if [she isn’t] with [him], [he] hasn’t a thing in the world” (Hemingway 250 257). The frequency of these conversations and thoughts of how “he felt faint from loving her so much” reveals to the reader the intensity of Henry’s love for Catherine. Hemingway does not dwell on description to convey the characters’ emotions; instead, he states these emotions directly via dialogue and insight into the character’s minds. Henry’s love for Catherine is reminiscent of Gatsby but each character’s love is exposed in different ways – Fitzgerald’s style is elaborate and poetic, while Hemingway’s is straightforward and realistic. As the stories of both characters conclude, their respective decisions to commit themselves to one sole ideal and disconnect themselves from everything finally takes a toll on them. In The Great Gatsby this toll may first appear to be Gatsby’s death, but upon deeper inspection, that which most affected him was the crumbling of his dream-his loss of Daisy. Even though “the dead dream fought on… trying to touch what was no longer tangible,” Daisy “[drew] further and further into herself,” leaving Gatsby with nothing despite having invested everything (Fitzgerald 142). Gatsby’s death was actually a fitting conclusion to the end of his enormous dream. Fitzgerald reveals how Gatsby “paid a high price for living too long with a single dream” through Gatsby’s eventual corruption and the vivid, profound, and slightly elegiac description of it (167). Henry’s story ended on a tragic note as well, and his fate and Gatsby’s bear a slight resemblance to each other. Both men were left with nothing in the end because they invested everything they had on one thing. When Henry abandoned the war, he did not do so solely for Catherine; however, he poured all his attentions on her, including that which he had already committed to the war. To Henry, “all other things were unreal” except for him and Catherine (Hemingway 249). As Catherine approached death, Henry rambled in his head: “And what if she should die? She won’t die…yes but what if she should die? She won’t die” (320). These lines reveal the vague distortion in Henry’s head and, once more, Hemingway’s style of reflecting the characters’ thoughts in the novel’s structure that provides the reader with an explicit view of what is in the character’s head. Upon Catherine’s death, Henry left her as though leaving a “statue”, then “walked back to his hotel in the rain” (332). Henry being emerged in the rain, a clear symbol of death and grief in the novel, represented the tragedy and pain he was immersed in. Now that Catherine was nothing but sort of a “statue,” he had nothing and was left purposeless. Although the sad ends of Gatsby and Henry occurred in different ways, both are similar in the sense that they were left empty and unfulfilled. Fitzgerald reveals this emptiness through the personification of the death of Gatsby’s dream, metaphoric language and elaborate prose, while Henry enhances this emptiness through the way Henry’s distraught mindset is written and the concluding visual of Henry in the rain. All in all, both Fitzgerald and Hemingway effectively portray their characters as individuals so overly dominated by love that they were no longer in tune with reality. Through each author’s unique style, however, Gatsby and Henry emerged as two clearly distinct characters developed in two different ways: Gatsby in a poetic and emotional one and Henry in a realistic and straightforward manner. As both characters are unraveled in their respective novels, the reader finds himself engrossed in the characters because of their multi-faceted personalities enhanced by each author’s individual style.

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No Separate Peace

May 17, 2019 by Essay Writer

War, deeply intertwined with human existence, overshadows action with impasse and ideals with sterility. Although war results in the facade of victory for one side, no true winner exists, because under this triumphant semblance lies the true cost of this plague, the magnified suffering of the people. In Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley attempt to cultivate an ideal and loving relationship in the midst of war, “the total, irrational negation of love” (Lewis 118). Yet, even after they abandon the battlefield and the war for halcyon Switzerland, they cannot live in peace because of an ineludible tragedy of life: death. Catherine “[has] one hemorrhage after another,” (331), leaving Henry bereft of love and happiness. Thus, their experience reflects both the futility of World War I and the contribution of this war to Henry’s failure of making a lasting separate peace with this malicious world.Through his observations, Henry depicts the atrocities of war. Instead of alleviating the adverse conditions of humanity, war only catalyzes the advent of death. While on the Italian front, Henry sees his friend, Passini, “biting his arm, the stump of his leg twitching” (55) after a mortar shell hit him. Passini dies needlessly, not in battle defending his beliefs, but while eating “some cheese and [rinses] of wine” (54). Instead of being a heroic Italian soldier who gives his life gloriously on the battlefield, Passini becomes a random casualty of the greed and childishness of both Austria and Italy’s leaders who fail to understand the consequences of war. A mere peon in this game of world domination and self-advancement, Passini represents the many victims “of political incompetence and poor leadership on both sides” (Marthe 109). Each country’s leaders wish to gain territory and pride from this struggle, but after a year’s struggle and the sacrifice of numerous lives, the Italians only manage to capture “the mountain that was beyond the valley” (5). Such a meaningless victory means little to Henry whose experience of “the brutal actualities of war ha[s] taught him to distrust such shibboleths and abstractions as glory and honor” (Grebstein 235). Life and palpable details such as “the concrete names of villages, the number of roads, [and] the names of rivers” (Berryman 271) mean so much more to Henry than the intangible concepts that leaders promote to glorify wars which do little to advance the welfare of mankind.Unnecessary deaths, such as Passini’s, increase the futility of war, changing it from a political disagreement into the reciprocated slaughter and butchery of the common man. During war, deaths result not only from bullets but also from disease and starvation. On the Italian front, “seven thousand died of [cholera] in the army” (4) during the winter rains. These casualties depict war’s augmentation of humanity’s suffering by causing many unneeded and cruel deaths. War also creates exceptional grieving for innumerable people by depriving them of their loved ones. This “utter lack of meaning and… destruction of everything decent that human beings value [in life]” (Bessie 104) leads to Henry’s disillusionment and his attempt to isolate himself from such meaningless destruction of human life.During the disorderly retreat from Caporetto, Henry becomes even more disenchanted after witnessing “the moral chaos” (Donaldson 97) of battle police executing officers for not staying with their men. This leads to Henry’s desertion from the Italian army. The battle police decide to shoot Henry for “[speaking] Italian with an accent” (222) while wearing an Italian uniform, because in their state of paranoia, the battle police see Henry as a German spy in Italian uniform. Henry “is vulnerable on both accounts” (Marthe 109), and with no way to refute this claim, he dives into the river to escape execution. This plunge symbolizes cleansing his soul of any true obligation to the war. By taking this dive, “he has forsaken the war and made his ‘separate peace'” (Marthe 109) with the world. Henry’s “farewell to arms” temporarily emancipates him from the obligations of the world and the problems of society, allowing him to elope with his lover Catherine.Although Henry recognizes that fighting in this war has become a lost cause, his desertion from the army disturbs him greatly. A facet of the duty and the military remains to pester him, causing him to “fe[el like] a masquerader” (243) after returning to civilian life, and thereby upsetting both his seclusion from the war and his attempt to find peace in the turbulent world. Unable to free himself of war completely, Henry comes to “see his [desertion] as an act of truancy – an evasion of the historical realities of the time” (Way 165). His attempts to isolate himself from the war only create haunting memories and the sense of an unfinished task which he must complete one day. Trying unsuccessfully to eradicate all reminiscence of this horrible experience, Henry commands the barman not to “‘talk about the war’ [because it] was a long way away.” (245). However, even attempting to hide mentally while physically separated from the war, Henry cannot liberate himself from his sense of bondage to military life, causing an internal war while he attempts to rationalize his desertion and forget about the war.Henry’s guilty conscience continues to haunt him even after his reunion with Catherine in Stresa, Italy. She serves as a foil to him, representing one who has successfully detached herself from the world and recognizes that “[life]’s just a dirty trick” (331). Not worried about the abstract concepts of life, such as duty, she observes Henry attempting to rationalize his guilt. Instead of fearing for his life or reprimanding him for desertion, Catherine comforts him by telling him, “Darling, please be sensible. It’s not deserting from the army. It’s only the Italian army” (251). Her view shows a clear understanding of Henry’s character and his struggle to achieve a separate peace. She knows that he “is a survivor who volunteered to participate in war but without any burning reason.” (Reynolds 146). As an American, he had no reason to enlist except for youthful caprice and a misconception about the glory of the war. Thus, Henry should feel neither compelled nor bound by duty to continue to serve Italy if he does not wish to do so.Strangely, despite his disbelief of any intangible abstraction such as honor, Henry’s mind reflects both an acute memory and a sense of duty and honor which complicates his ability to come to a tacit understanding with the world. Although physically isolated from the war, he continues to brood about it. Even after realizing that “[the war] was over for [him]… [Henry] did not have the feeling that it was really over” (245). This foreshadows Catherine’s death at the end of the book. It also shows that he cannot forget war and death forever, because these essential qualities of mankind will remain with him throughout his life.As a veteran, Henry cannot hide from the horrors of war that replay themselves in the back of his mind to constantly remind him of his experience. This “turbulence [that] has more presence than actual peace” (Wyatt 291) hovers in Henry’s mind through most of the novel, serving as a constant reminder of the atrocities of war and the eventual demise that each individual faces at the end of his lifetime. These recollections of such a dark and inglorious period of his life plague his daily existence and prepare the reader for the news that the Italian army plans to arrest Henry, forcing him to flee to Switzerland with Catherine in a rowboat.In Switzerland, Henry and Catherine find temporary shelter from both the war and the sadness which plague human existence. Isolated and living idyllically, the couple “[sleeps] well [and] the war seem[s] as far away as the football games of some one else’s college” (291). At the same time, “the narcotic begins to wear off” (Donaldson 106-107) and when Henry “woke in the night [he] knew it was from only one cause.” (291). The memories of war, ingrained in his mind, serve as a constant reminder of the outside world and the suffering which he has temporarily escaped. These reflections resurface “when Catherine urges him to fall asleep with her, he is unable to do so and lies ‘awake for quite a long time thinking about things'” (Donaldson 107). This shows that Henry cannot be fully isolated from the reality which he tries very hard to forget.Even with reality attempting to interfere with Catherine and Henry’s life, it remains fairly peaceful and dreamlike, reflecting their temporary peace and isolation from the moral entrapments of the world. In Switzerland, “the winter was very fine and [they] were very happy” (306) with their life until their baby arrives. This rudely interrupts Catherine and Henry’s ideal life in the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland. They reenter civilization to seek medical assistance, thereby ending their temporary solitude and shelter from the harshness of the world.Upon leaving his shelter, all of the suffering that Henry thought he had escaped comes rushing back to him as Catherine falls victim to “the biological trap” (320). Henry watches “Catherine’s agonies in childbirth, lead[ing] him to conclude that men’s sufferings in life are as pathetically frantic and meaningless as the scrambling of ants on a burning log.” (Grebstein 235). Overwhelmed by this trauma, Henry sees the futility of life and realizes that he can never fully seclude himself from the emotional agonies of human existence. The impossibility of Henry reaching a reconciliation with himself or the world becomes certain when the doctors “couldn’t start [the baby’s] breathing. The cord was caught around his neck” (326). However, the stillborn only begins Henry’s re-initiation into the cycle of “death and destruction [which] are man’s lot in many forms other than war” (Lewis 118). Another farewell remains before Henry is left utterly alone in the world, bereft of all that he values.After the baby’s birth, Catherine dies. She paid the “price that you paid for sleeping together” (Marthe 208), leaving Henry both physically and emotionally alone to deal with the loss of his lover. He had attempted to make a separate peace with the world, but ended up losing Catherine, the only thing that he cared for. This last farewell shows “that life, both personal and social, is a struggle in which the Loser Takes Nothing” (Young 274). Henry can only think back to the wonderful times he had with Catherine. These bittersweet memories are all that remain for him at the end of the story. For Henry, “Switzerland, an ideal land for confinement, offers asylum only. Exquisite for the short run . . . it provides no shelter at all… [and] once the sabbath is over and the game resumes… [Henry has] everything to lose.” (Wasserstrom 78).

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The Need for Repetition: Hemingway’s Sparse Landscape in A Farewell to Arms

May 10, 2019 by Essay Writer

In his novel A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway uses parataxis extensively. With this structure Hemingway avoids making causal connections in his narration; this is one of the most famous aspects of Hemingway’s writing. But the unpredictability that the anti-causal nature of the narrative suggests, is counteracted by another, less apparent, narrative tool of Hemingway’s. The unpredictability is counteracted by the extensive repetition that Hemingway employs in the novel, repetition that finally evinces a world that is somewhat knowable. The central event in the novel is the war, and Hemingway constructs the war to be defined by repeated actions. Just as he constructs the whole war to be comprised of a couple of moves, repeated ad infinitum, Hemingway also designs the narrative so that it is defined by recurring events. This begins with the character’s actions as it corresponds to the war, a war which forces them to complete the same social behavior over and over. Hemingway extends this repetition so that it soon invisibly and quietly pervades all of the character’s behavior, even small private behavior. Eventually even the words of the novel are seen to return frequently. As Hemingway builds this world in which everything returns, he builds a world in which even the reader is able to predict events, dialogue, and descriptions. Hemingway’s technique is not overt, and to see the technique it is necessary to closely analyze the actions of the characters, that Hemingway designed, with no haphazard, at each level. After a thorough exploration of Hemingway’s technique, the reason that Hemingway creates this somewhat knowable world surfaces. Hemingway presents war as a series of repeated actions from the first chapter. The most noticeable action is the marching mentioned in the first paragraph, when the narrator, Frederick Henry, remembers that “Troops went by the house and down the road.” The marching of the troops is so ubiquitous that the narrator oddly makes reference to it twice in the next sentence: “We saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching.” Hemingway’s repeated mention of the action reflects the repeated action of the soldiers, who do not even stop when the sun goes down; as Henry notes, “Sometimes in the dark we heard the troops marching” (3). All of the above mentioned marching has come in the late summer, but it continues into the autumn when “the men, passing on the road, marched” (4). In the two pages of the first chapter the narrator mentions the marching troops no less than five times, and by doing this Hemingway allows the war to be defined by little other than these peripatetic soldiers. Whenever Hemingway brings the reader into proximity with the war after this chapter, he always inserts the anonymous troops making their way to a usually unspecified endpoint. Because of the few actions that the soldiers complete, the reader slowly comes to expect soldiers to be marching each time they are seen. While Hemingway allows his narrator, Henry, to make one reference to an aspect of war outside of these marching soldiers in the first chapter‹the “flashes from the artillery” in the distance‹it is the soldiers, and their endlessly repeated personal actions, that give the war form in the chapter. So Hemingway makes it in the rest of the novel, where each person involved with the war finds himself with an assigned task that he repeats endlessly. Frederick Henry is sent driving his ambulance back and forth between the front and an ever changing base. Before even putting down his bags after returning from a long leave caused by an injury sustained at the front, Henry is told by his commanding officer, “You can go and take over the four cars on the Bainsizza.” (165). Rinaldi, Henry’s friend who operates on the injured soldiers that Henry delivers, complains that “All summer and all fall I’ve operated. I work all the time . . .I never think. No, by God, I don’t think; I operate” (167). Hemingway, more subtly, makes certain behavior, that is immediately related to these wartime tasks, also repeat itself. The meals that the men eat while on the road is inevitably of two kinds. The spaghetti in the “basin of spaghetti” late in the book (191), is probably eaten in the same methodical way as in the early moments of the book, where Henry explains that the only variation was in the way the men ate the spaghetti, some “lifting the spaghetti on the fork until the loose strands hung clear then lowering it into the mouth, or else using a continuous life and sucking into the mouth” (7). When the men are not eating spaghetti they are invariably eating bread and cheese; both meals are eaten with red wine. Only once does Hemingway allow his characters to eat something besides spaghetti or bread and cheese: when Henry and his men are stuck in a small farmhouse Piani finds a “long sausage,” that they eat (217). Even considering this lack of variety, at one point the gustatory element is the one element that does allow the soldiers to differentiate between different actions in the war. Even nominally different actions‹advances and retreats‹become the same except for the type of wine that is drunk. During one retreat, an ambulance driver accompanying Henry says, “I like a retreat better than an advance. On a retreat we drink barbera” (191). Hemingway constructs a world in which only the type of alcohol consumed allows the soldiers to differentiate between the two distinct maneuvers. But Hemingway extends the effect of the repetitive nature of war beyond behavior directly related to the war. Henry and the other characters all fall into patterns of behavior that become predictably frequent. The two actions that are the most ubiquitous are the drinking of alcohol that occurs whenever anyone gets a free moment, and the newspaper reading that Henry does whenever he is alone. When Henry is injured, the priest from Henry’s base brings him three presents. It is no surprise that two are “a bottle of vermouth,” and “English papers” (69). When Rinaldi paid Henry a visit earlier that day his gift was a “bottle of cognac” (63). Even once Henry reaches the Milan hospital after his injury at the front, Hemingway forces the behavior of both Henry and Katherine Barkley, his soon-to-be wife, into regular repeated patterns. After Henry describes a few representative days, mentioning the riding in carriages, the eating at the Gran Italia, the return to the hospital, and the nightly trysts, Henry quietly says, “The summer went on that way” (117). By this point in the novel Hemingway can give us one sequence of a pattern and we don’t need to know anymore, we only need to know that it Œwent on that way.’As more and more moments repeat themselves Hemingway fades the lines protecting the uniqueness of moments. Unexpected acts are seen to repeat almost verbatim. When he first arrives at the Milan hospital Henry finds himself looking out the window: “The swallows circled around and I watched them [flying] above the roofs” (87). Katherine soon arrives, and when she does Henry has little time to look out the window, but when he is next alone he looks out the window and “watched the swallows over the roofs” (113). His solitary swallow watching is one of the few diversions from Henry’s constant paper reading, but Hemingway makes even this oddly specific diversion a repetitive action. Hemingway places another unexpected repeated action in chapter 23. The night before Henry is to return to the front after his injury leave, Katherine and he are heading to a hotel in Milan. On the way they see another couple in an alleyway where the soldier was “standing with his girl in the shadow of one of the stone buttresses ahead of [Henry and Katherine]. They were standing tight up against the stone and he had put his cape around her” (147). While Henry responds to the couple by saying, “They’re like us,” Katherine quickly responds by saying, “Nobody is like us,” trying to assert the uniqueness of their union. A few moments later, however, the two find themselves standing “in the street against a high wall,” Henry tells us how Katherine “pulled my cape around her so it covered both of us” (150). This odd repetition seems to be completed with some agency on the part of the characters, but the fact that this overt recurrence of a specific event is not acknowledged by Hemingdway underscores the expectedness of such repetition. Hemingway mixes this repetition with an odd derivative of repetition, foreshadowing. Moments imagined recur in the book’s reality with little agency from the characters. Soon after he meets Katherine in a small Italian town, Henry dreams of the couple having a more romantic and private rendezvous. The imagined event has a few salient characteristics: in the dream they meet in Milan and go to a hotel where they are taken to their room in “the elevator and it would go up very slowly clicking at all the floors and then our floor.” Once in the room they drink wine brought by room service (39). Oddly enough, when Henry is injured at the front, he is taken to a hospital in Milan, the same hospital to which Katherine happens to have been transferred. At the end of Henry’s time in Milan the two go to a hotel for a night. They go up to their room by elevator and “the elevator passed three floors with a click each time.” Once they are in the room, they order dinner and St. Estephe wine (151-153). After all the repetition in the book, the world seems to become a somewhat knowable place; if the essential actions are repeated ones, it follows that there is better chance of guessing future actions. This suspicion that the world that Hemingway created is somehow knowable is confirmed through the just mentioned, and other, less explicit, moments of foreshadowing. After he is injured, but before he meets up with Katherine, Henry speaks of the feasibility of facial hair and one of the officers asks him, “Why don’t you raise a beard?” (77). While this remark is made in passing, and would be impossible as a soldier, once he has escaped from the army, Catherine independently asks Henry, “Darling, would you like to grow a beard?” (298), a plea with which Henry complies. While Katherine is in childbirth Henry eerily sees what will soon happen when he asks himself, “What if she should die?” (321). Henry has no reason to think that Katherine should die, there has been little complication when Henry asks this question, and as he reminds himself, “People don’t die in childbirth nowadays” (320). Yet even with this knowledge he is unable to erase the belief that she will die. In the end she does die, and it is from an unexpected hemorrhage that results from complications that arise only after Henry convinces himself that she will die. Henry and Katherine’s entire relationship is essentially foreseen before there is any reason to even make predictions. Soon after they meet, moments after Katherine slaps Henry for attempting to take the first kiss, Katherine says in half jest, “You will be good to me, won’t you? . . . because we’re going to have a strange life” (27). How right she is. Katherine is able to make this prediction from previous knowledge. It seems that in many ways Henry and Katherine’s entire relationship is a repeat of the relationship Katherine was in that preceded the novel, a wartime relationship in which marriage is held off because of uncertainty. Katherine can predict what a strange relationship Henry and hers will be because of her prior experience with such a relationship. This observation illuminates an important point about the foreshadowing. It does not arise through any prophetic powers. Instead, very simply, it arises because, if actions repeat themselves, it is easier to predict what will happen. Hemingway produces such repitition in the novel that even his characters have some power to see what will happen to them in the future.But this does not explain why there is repetition in the first place. To answer this question it is good to look at the way Hemingway introduces repetition in the words of the novel. The dialogue is rife with repetition such as when, in complementing Henry for a good idea, Aymo, another ambulance driver, says, “That’s Pretty good, Tenente.” In response Henry says, “That’s pretty good” (210). More important than the repetitive dialogue is the repetition of a few simple adjectives. The word Œlovely’ is used endlessly to describe either Henry or Catherine, such as when Henry notes that Catherine “looked lovely in bed” (258). But it is also used by Rinaldi to describe himself when he says, “I am becoming a lovely surgeon,” (167) and by Catherine when ironically referring to a rainy night: “It’s a lovely night for a walk” (267). The oft-mentioned simplicity of the narrative stems greatly from the excessive repetition of such simple words. The word lovely, like the words good and splendid and nice are used so frequently that the reader comes to expect them anytime an adjectival description is given. It seems that the characters have no choice but to use these words to describe things. This same idea applies to the repetition of actions. Henry did not grow a beard because it was cosmically ordained. He grows it because there are so few ways to reinvent oneself within the spartan lifestyle required by war. Likewise, Henry does not find himself watching swallows because a higher force made him so that he should. Instead he watches swallows because there is little else to do when lying in a hospital bed. The reappearance of the swallows affirms that there are few options for other action above Italian rooftops. Hemingway thus creates a world in which repetition is destined to occur, not because of some larger cosmic scheme, but rather because in the simple world that Hemingway has created‹a re-creation of the simple world that Hemingway saw around him‹the few things that can possibly occur, have a high probability of recurring because there are so few of them.

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Natural Symbolism, Death, and Language

April 24, 2019 by Essay Writer

Ernest Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms (1929) uses nature to structure the novel and provide symbols that replace human emotions. Nature serves as a basic structure for the plot and the actions that occur. It also emerges as a source of symbols that replace human sentiment or feelings. Characters die and there is no mention of sadness or pain. Instead, Hemingway writes that it is raining, that it is autumn, or that peace has occurred when people are still at war. The replacement of emotions with symbols allows Hemingway to frequently understate what is really going on in the action. He further uses symbols to completely omit references to sentiments or feelings. Even more unsettling is the fact that these symbols often ironically represent the opposite of their meanings in common parlance. Not only symbols, but also individual words, come to be used in this way. This undermines the use of technical language throughout the novel and causes the breakdown of that language. Thus, symbols and words provide a basis for the structure of the novel and for the loss of the technical language.The structure of the novel occurs largely through natural symbolism, i.e. symbols drawn from nature. This is set up in the first chapter, which shows the rapid progression of the seasons from summer into autumn. Summer is identified with dryness and abundance, a plain “rich with crops” (3). This is immediately contrasted with autumn, where “the branches were bare and the trunks black with rain” (4). This miniature transition of the seasons relates to the larger transitions in the novel as a whole. For example, the first part of the novel takes place in relative dryness up until when Catherine informs Henry that she is going to have a baby. No sooner has she told him this news than the rains start, ending the dry part of the novel: “It turned cold that night and the next day it was raining” (142). Thus the novel is separated into two segments in the same manner that the first chapter is separated into summer and fall.This separation of the seasons helps to set up the transition in the plot from good to bad. “Good” is represented by the dry season, “bad” by the wet season. Thus, the opening scenes describe the bed of the river as being “dry and white” (3), an image that changes drastically by the end, where the river has turned into a raging torrent. This contrast is explicated by the events that occur on hard versus soft surfaces. For instance, the first military operation (in which Henry is wounded) is fast paced, with the wounded are rushed away in trucks, and everything is described as being hard, including the road and operating table. This contrasts with the second military operation, a defeat, that takes place on wet roads, with vehicles stuck in the mud, and where rivers have to be crossed instead of river beds. Thus the world of the first half of the novel is a dry, sterile version of the wet and sickly world that follows it. Within this world, the dry part is the world of success; Henry wins Catherine and the army wins some battles. The wet world is the exact opposite: the army loses and is forced to retreat and Henry loses Catherine. The natural world thereby provides the setting within which Henry’s personal and military experiences can take place. Natural changes from dryness to wetness are paralleled in the plot by both Catherine’s pregnancy and the corrupt horse races. These scenes are juxtaposed onto each other through their side-by-side placement. They define the transition from love to “marriage” and advancement to retreat, respectively. Thus, after Catherine announces that she is pregnant, she and Henry consider themselves “married,” thereby catapulting their relationship from casual to serious. Similarly, the war with Austria goes well for the Italians until Henry describes the corruption of the horse races, a corruption that permeates every level of the Italian army and political machine. After the horse races, the Italian army no longer is able to win battles; instead, the war turns into a retreat and becomes far more serious and deadly. This structure is complemented by natural symbols that substitute for emotions or feelings. The most important of these symbols is that of rain. Rain represents death and all the accompanying emotions of grief, pain, and despair. Death is both brought by rain and can be considered analogous to it. Catherine is the first person to make this analogy explicit when she tells Henry that she is afraid of the rain. “I am afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it” (126). Although Henry dismisses her words at the time, they continue to haunt the novel up until she dies. Indeed, immediately after Henry visits her dead body in the hospital, the novel ends with the passage: “I…walked back to the hotel in the rain” (332). The novel thus ends with rain being used as a substitute for Catherine’s death. Rain is also symbolically used by Hemingway to understate the obvious. For instance, when Catherine dies, there is no emotional outpouring. Instead, the novel ends with the word “rain” as the only hint of the emotional stress that Henry is experiencing. This form of understatement is ironically introduced right at the beginning of the novel:At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera. But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army. (4)In this passage, rain and death are linked for the first time, yet there is no emotional content connected to the fact that seven thousand men have died. This understatement is a key feature of the novel and will be used every time a death occurs. For instance, when Aymo dies after being shot, Henry informs the reader that, “He looked very dead. It was raining.” Those two lines embody the full extent of the emotion that Henry shows. This form of understatement, where a symbol substitutes for emotions, allows Hemingway to omit key facts. A good example of omission occurs right after Henry has been wounded. He is placed in an ambulance and driven to the hospital while the man above him bleeds to death. “The drops fell very slowly, as they fall from an icicle after the sun has gone” (61). This simple description omits all the pain and suffering and replaces them with the image of “drops” from an icicle. Using symbols to replace death or emotions allows foreshadowing. Rain, for example, is frequently used to foreshadow death. Before getting killed, Aymo states, “We drink [barbera] now. To-morrow maybe we drink rainwater” (191). Catherine’s death is foreshadowed in similar manner: she is terrified of the rain and states that she sometimes sees herself dead in the rain (126). Henry comforts her and stops her crying. However, Hemingway shows that this is a false comfort; in one of the very infrequent uses of the word “but”, the chapter ends with the sentence, “But outside it kept on raining” (126). Thus symbols are used to foreshadow the things they substitute for.An unsettling aspect of the novel is that symbols stand for the opposite of what they mean in common parlance. For example, rain is normally associated with growth, healthy crops, and a cleansing of the outside world. Instead, Hemingway uses it to mean death. He does the same thing with autumn and spring, seasons traditionally thought of as abundant in harvest and fecund, respectively. In the novel they come to stand for the rainy season, a time of death, retreat, and loss. The same inversion takes place with language; Hemingway uses words like “peace” to denote someone deserting the army (243). By using the words and symbols in the opposite context of what they are expected to mean, uncertainties are introduced. These uncertainties are caused by the fact that symbols and words do not have an inherent meaning that can be relied upon. This causes Henry to slowly start to mistrust language, and language as a whole is thus slowly undermined as the novel progresses.This causes the language of the novel to retreat away from simple technical language to a more abstract, questioning language. For example, the second half of the novel introduces questions into the text. This has the effect of undermining the manual-like nature of much of the novel, in which skills are constantly taught to others (such as how to eat spaghetti on page 7 or how to fish on page 256). These skills help to make the world understandable and uncomplicated; if there is a problem, someone can teach the other person how to fix it. Questions destroy the purity of this world because they introduce uncertainty into it. This uncertainty results in chaos, both for the army and for Henry’s love affair. The first time a question is asked where no one has an answer is when Henry decides to take his cars off of the main road. One of the Sergeants asks, “You know the road?” and forces Henry to say, “No” (201). This uncertainty quickly takes over the text of the novel, causing Henry to insert his own questions, such as “Which side did [Catherine] sleep on?” (197), or “If you did not go forward what happened?” (216). This climaxes in the hospital scene where Henry almost goes insane with uncertainty:Yes, but what if she should die? She can’t die. Why would she die? What reason is there for her to die? There’s just a child that has to be born, the by-product of good nights in Milan. It makes trouble and is born and then you look after it and get fond of it maybe. But what if she should die? She won’t die. But what if she should die? She won’t. She’s all right. But what if she should die? She can’t die. But what if she should die? Hey, what about that? What if she should die? (320-321)The repetition of the questions in this paragraph hides the fact that this is actually an inversion of a manual. Instead of providing the answers to the questions, as he has throughout the novel, Henry is now posing the questions. This transition is mirrored by the brief but uncharacteristic moments of sentimentality that occur near the end (which I will spare the reader by not quoting), in which Henry “whines” about the fact that everyone eventually dies.The breakdown of language that occurs in the novel eventually leads Henry to state that he has “made a separate peace” (243). This oft quoted line embodies many of the fundamental themes of the novel. Foremost, it relates to the title, “A Farewell to Arms”, a phrase the can be interpreted as running away or deserting the army. Running away is exactly what Henry is doing when he makes his “peace”; after changing clothes, he refuses to read about the war in the newspapers, thus choosing “peace” by ignoring the war. This is a false peace, however, since Henry is soon caught up in fleeing to Switzerland with Catherine. This fake peace is highlighted by several other references to fakeness: for instance, Henry is described as a “fake doctor” (319). This fakeness shows that Henry cannot Œwill’ peace. The reason he fails to achieve a real peace is because the language changes as well.Language, and particularly the use of the word peace, is therefore inverted. Peace is a political term, a term that does not have a technical meaning. Henry realizes this when he overhears the carabinieri questioning the officers during the retreat. They use political language, “It is you and such as you that have let the barbarians onto the sacred soil of the fatherland” (223). Henry cannot adopt that language, and thus he chooses “a separate peace”, i.e. a peace that has nothing to do with politics. This peace can also be interpreted as his choice of language; he denounces the political rhetoric and instead uses the technical language that he can trust. In this sense technical language is equated with peace, political language with war. The word “peace,” (243) is further given an entirely different meaning by the line that immediately follows it. “I felt damned lonely and was glad when the train got to Stresa” (243). Stresa is where Catherine is located, and thus it seems that Henry is choosing love over war. In this case, “peace” merely means that he would rather be with Catherine than be in the war. This is in fact the choice that he makes, both by returning to Catherine and then fleeing with her to Switzerland. However, like the symbols, the word “peace” is falsely interpreted. The flight to Switzerland placed Henry and Catherine in a world where everything seems “peaceful”. This false peace is two-fold: it is an escape from war, and it is an escape from sentimental language. Neither of them notice the falseness of the peace, or realize the impending danger. Catherine comments, “Isn’t it fine rain? They never had rain like this in Italy. It’s cheerful rain” (278). This is the first time that someone thinks of rain as a positive symbol and gives rain its more common definition. Unfortunately, this is a trick; the rain is related to death throughout the novel. Thus the rain, like the peace, is false in Switzerland. Catherine’s complicated childbirth, which takes place during the rain, undermines her statement. Henry’s use of language crumbles around the same time; he becomes overly sentimental and “whiny” and explodes with numerous unanswerable questions. It is therefore the fact that language, in the form of symbols and words, cannot be trusted that causes him to give up on his technical language. The combination of natural symbolism with death and language creates a powerful unity to the events of the novel. The deaths are foreshadowed by the rain, which is used as a substitute for emotion. Thus the rain represents not only death, but also the grief, pain, and despair that accompanies death. It further represents a form of purging, a means of forgetting what has just happened. By having symbols stand for the emotional content of the plot, Hemingway cleverly removes the need to use extraneous language. This allows him to write much of the novel in the dry, technical language that he is famous for while still retaining the emotional content. It is important to notice that the breakdown of language at the end of the novel is not permanent. After having nearly given up his technical language, Hemingway returns to it in the final passage. Hence the novel ends with the word “rain” rather than the expected emotional outpouring. BibliographyHemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1929.

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Hemingway’s Catherines: Death Drives and Destruction in A Farewell to Arms and The Garden of Eden

April 15, 2019 by Essay Writer

Catherine Barkley, who predeceases the retrospective narration of her bereaved lover in A Farewell to Arms, has nevertheless transcended her untimely death to become immortalized as a frequent and much-debated subject of Hemingway criticism. Since her debut in 1929, Catherine has taken many a turn beneath the critical microscope as scholars have shuffled through various lenses. Catherine has weathered countless critical trends and multiple waves of feminism, throughout which critics have cast her in many roles, from her infamous early days as a “divine lollipop” and “inflated rubber-doll woman” to her later restoration not as Hemingway dream girl, but Hemingway code hero (Hacket, Bell qtd. in Spanier 76). Whether critical darling or demon, Catherine Barkley remains one of Hemingway’s most iconic and well-known characters. And yet, oddly, she is not Hemingway’s only Catherine.

In 1986, another Catherine, Catherine Bourne, made her debut as the female lead of the posthumously published The Garden of Eden. Although Catherine remains a common name, I reject a reading that figures this repetition as purely coincidental. Noting, as Carl Eby points out, that Hemingway maintained a fascination with the name Catherine both within and outside of his fiction—even adopting the name for his own private use later in life—I contend that Hemingway would not repurpose the name of one of his best-known heroines on another leading character in anything other than an intentional move (“Literary Jealousy and Destruction” 104). As David Bourne himself reminds us in The Garden of Eden, “Names go to the bone” (GOE 141). The significance behind the twin names is increasingly hard to ignore as it becomes clear that the female leads of A Farewell to Arms and The Garden of Edenshare more than just a first name. Catherine Barkley and Catherine Bourne consistently and eerily echo each other’s desires, fantasies, and impulses. Most fundamentally, the Catherines mirror each other in a shared desire for a romantic ideal of merged identity, which is intimately related to their twin fantasies of gender play and transgression, as well as to their infamous destructive impulses.

Both Catherines entertain a fantasy of very literal romantic unity in which desiring another means to also desire to becomethe other. Catherine Barkley willfully dissolves her identity within her lover’s, declaring “There isn’t any me, I’m you,” a sentiment she insistently echoes throughout the novel (FTA115). Catherine Bourne acts on similar desires, engaging in gender-bending sexual activities in which she calls her husband “Catherine” and asks, “Now you can’t tell who is who, can you?” (GOE17). Later, in convincing her husband to get matching haircuts, Catherine Bourne fulfills a fantasy of tonsorial twinning earlier expressed by Catherine Barkley to her own beloved: “Let it grow a little longer and I could cut mine and we’d be just alike” (FTA299). Along with their mutual commitment to a romantic ideal of love as shared identity, the two Catherines share a destructive impulse apparently also rooted in this romantic ideal. “I want to ruin you,” Catherine Barkley announces in a declaration that Catherine Bourne later echoes with the assertion, “I’m the destructive type, and I’m going to destroy you,” (FTA305, GOE5). There is, as Eby notes of the latter Catherine’s statement, “something sinister” in this language that becomes increasingly haunting as Catherine Bourne continues to echo and intensify the most bizarre desires of her eponymous predecessor (“Literary Jealousy and Destruction” 99). As she consistently mirrors one of Hemingway’s most famous female characters, dead but not forgotten, Catherine Bourne rises out of the posthumous publication like a ghostly doppelganger.

I propose that neither these similarities nor their eeriness are merely coincidental. Moreover, I suggest that both Catherines can trace the origins of their romantic desires and destructive impulses to yet a third—and no less spectral—Catherine: Emily Brontë’s Catherine Earnshaw, whose famous avowal, “I am Heathcliff,” resounds in the romantic model of merged identity sought by Hemingway’s Catherines (Brontë 82). A novel of doubleness and merger, destructive and self-destructive impulses, and quasi-queer relationships, Brontë’s Wuthering Heightsshares many motifs with Hemingway’s works—motifs that may initially seem better suited to Brontë’s gothic than Hemingway’s realism. Illuminating Hemingway’s position in the gothic tradition, comparisons with Wuthering Heightsauthorize an exploration of darker imagery and motifs in Hemingway’s work through the psychoanalytical lens of the death drive. A pulse many critics have long identified in Wuthering Heights, I propose that the death drive is also a driving force uniting the similarities in A Farewell to Arms andThe Garden of Eden. My reading is interested in highlighting the similarities between Hemingway’s Catherines while showing how thematic and psychoanalytical parallels with Wuthering Heightscan help illuminate and explain their destructive impulses as subversive reactions against patriarchal structures of meaning.

An “enigmatic” text to which even the most authoritative sources still attribute a “peculiar power” that renders the novel a “challenge to both fictional and moral conventions,” Wuthering Heightsremains something of an outlier even within its own generic and historical context (Alexander & Smith 560). A novel that is difficult to figure in conversation even with ostensibly similar texts, Brontë’s gothic masterpiece may strike as a particularly ill-suited companion to Hemingway’s famously stark realism, written a century later and in an entirely different literary tradition.

Discordant as the comparison may initially ring, I am not the first to note traces of Brontë in Hemingway. In fact, Lisa Tyler goes as far as to provide a reading that convincingly figures A Farewell to Armsas “a retelling” of Wuthering Heights. In defense of this “fairly unusual reading,” Tyler points to a 1935 Esquirearticle in which Hemingway ranks Wuthering Heightsfourth on a list of favorite books (81, 79). As Tyler proposes, and I agree, “Hemingway’s inclusion of Brontë’s novel in his list of important works suggests that…it may, in fact, have influenced his writings in ways we have yet to fully acknowledge” (79). Tyler goes on to outline the various similarities between the two seemingly disparate texts, arguing that such allusions are at once so numerous and often so obvious that they can constitute nothing less than “deliberate signals to the reader of the underlying thrust of the book” (80). Tyler provides a fairly comprehensive overview of the similarities uniting the two texts, many of which are worth reviewing here.

Tyler begins, as I have, with “the most obvious and superficial similarity:” both heroines are named Catherine (82). However, as Tyler shows—and I plan to elaborate on by extending a reading of this “superficial similarity” to yet another Hemingway text—the shared name is far from truly superficial, in fact signaling an important thematic connection to Wuthering Heightsthat figures Catherine Earnshaw as something of a literary foremother to Hemingway’s Catherines. The connections that allow us to hear Wuthering Heightsin the underlying pulse of A Farewell to Armsand its echoes in The Garden of Edenbegin with the nominal allusion to Brontë’s gothic heroine.

Such similarities continue to crop up, some obvious, others in minute detail. Both Catherines die in childbirth. Both give birth to children named Catherine, although, as Tyler notes, Catherine Barkley’s stillborn son only bears this name in utero (Tyler 82). In Catherine Barkley’s first appearance in A Farewell to Arms, she somewhat inexplicably carries “a thin rattan stick like a toy riding-crop, bound in leather” (FTA 18). Pressed for explanation, Catherine Barkley responds only that it belonged to her late fiancé. Tyler, however, provides a more satisfactory explanation, noting that the article is “reminiscent of the whip that Catherine Earnshaw asks her father to bring her in her first appearance in Wuthering Heights” (82).Of course, Catherine Earnshaw never actually receives such an item; instead of the gifts promised, Mr. Earnshaw returns with the child Heathcliff, much to the chagrin of his own children (Brontë 37). Heathcliff becomes a symbolic substitution for Catherine Earnshaw’s lost whip, while inversely, “the little stick…returned with his things” is the substitution Catherine Barkley receives in place of her dead fiancé (FTA 19).

Rain is another seemingly superficial shared motif to which Tyler points, noting that in both novels, “rain functions as a poignant and pointed symbol of separation and death” (82). While, as Pearl James notes, the reading of rain inA Farewell to Arms as either symbolic or historical remains a subject of debate, the “over determined” presence of rain in the novel, whether historically accurate or not, can hardly help but underscore the gothic undertones present in Hemingway’s text (James 136). Considered alongside a parallel motif in Wuthering Heights, this traditionally gothic symbol helps illuminate other dark and seemingly inexplicable or bizarre aspects stained through the realism of A Farewell to Arms.

Unsurprisingly, Catherine Barkley is most often the harbinger of the novel’s most jarring and bizarre images. Even before her long, agonizing death brings the novel to a dark, gothic close (set, no less, against a backdrop of rain), Catherine peppers the novel with strange ideas and imagery that border on the traditionally gothic grotesque. In one such image, she expresses a desire to possess a fox tail with little explanation, conjuring a perverse bestial image (FTA 303). She also entertains a bizarre and vaguely eerie fantasy of twinning with Frederic, imagining them with matching haircuts. Taking an even darker turn, Catherine also wishes to have had gonorrhea, so, as she explains to Frederic “to be like you” (FTA299). All of these jarring images have their roots in Catherine’s ultimate desire to literally beFrederic: “Oh darling, I want you so much I want to be you too” (FTA 299). It is no coincidence that this desire is also at the heart of the similarities between A Farewell to Arms and Wuthering Heights. Both Tyler and I point to the heroines’ passionate declarations of love, which echo each other unmistakably in a shared fascination with merger. As noted earlier, Catherine Barkley’s repeated insistence that she and Frederic Henry are one extends to the point of entire self-dissolution: “There isn’t any me, I’m you. Don’t make up a separate me” (FTA115). Catherine’s declarations that she isFrederic cannot help but parallel Catherine Earnshaw’s famed avowal, perhaps among the most famous lines in Wuthering Heights: “Nelly, I am Heathcliff—he’s always, always in my mind—not as pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself—but as my own being” (Brontë 82).

Tyler suggests that comparisons between Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Barkley can help the latter escape the “geisha girl” reading that has long plagued her and instead cast her as a “Romantic heroine,” rendering her “a more comprehensible and better realized character, one with whom feminist readers can more comfortably sympathize” (80). My reading of these parallels, however, does not explicitly seek to portray Catherine Barkley as a feminist heroine—work which, I would argue, has been better accomplished by the likes of Sandra Whipple Spanier and to which comparisons with Catherine Earnshaw add little—but rather a gothic one. Like Tyler, I hope to render Catherine Barkley “more comprehensible.” However, having established gothic undercurrents at work in A Farewell to Arms via parallels with Wuthering Heights, my approach seeks to explain Catherine’s bizarre and destructive behavior through the darker psychoanalytical lens of the death drive.

In her seminal feminist reconsideration of Catherine Barkley’s character, Spanier identifies and challenges a pervasive binary approach to Hemingway women which finds them invariably resigned to one of two types: “those who destroy men and those women men could only dream of” (76). While early criticism tended to figure Catherine Barkley as what Spanier calls “the prototypical dream girl,” her character does display some unmistakably destructive behaviors. In perhaps the most notable example, Catherine herself states in no uncertain terms that she wants to ruin Frederic. “What do you want to do? Ruin me?” Frederic asks, to which Catherine responds simply, “Yes. I want to ruin you,” (FTA 305).

Of course, taking Catherine at her word, there is no “separate” Catherine to ruin a separate Frederic. Her identity is intertwined inextricably with her beloved’s. In this sense, then, her desire to “ruin” Frederic becomes not simply destructive, but rather self-destructive. As noted earlier, the self-destructive impulses at the heart of Catherine’s willful self-abnegation appear at various points throughout the novel, often manifesting physically. Upon hearing that Frederic’s experience with gonorrhea was “very painful,” Catherine’s immediate response is to wish that she’d also had it (FTA 299). While here, Catherine explains her desire for gonorrhea as parallel to her desire “to be like” Frederic, other manifestations of her self-destructive impulses receive no such explanation. Throughout her painful and ultimately fatal labor, Catherine expresses a perverse desire for pain, referring to the more painful contractions as “good ones.” When the pains are less severe, Frederic notes that “she was disappointed and ashamed” (FTA 314). I suggest that Catherine’s obsession with pain and self-abnegation is ultimately symptomatic of her death drive.

Returning again to Tyler’s parallel reading of A Farewell to Arms and Wuthering Heights, she calls on the work of Ernest Lockridge, whose analysis of A Farewell to Armsrests on the claim that, “It is Catherine’s effort to resurrect her lost love…that is the whole novel’s primary mover” (qtd. in Tyler 82). According to Tyler, this reading “establishes a profound thematic parallel with Wuthering Heights, in which it is Heathcliff’s effort to resurrect a lost love that is the whole novel’s primary mover” (82). In psychoanalytical parlance, which Tyler borrows from William A. Madden, both novels structure their narratives around a character trapped in a classically Freudian “repetition compulsion,” through which they repeat their trauma in an attempt to restore “psychic wholeness” (qtd. in Tyler 89).

This desire to return to an earlier state of wholeness comprises the heart of the Lacanian conception of the death drive, in which psychic wholeness belongs exclusively to the domain of the pre (or post)-linguistic realm. In Lacanian theory—as outlined by Robin DeRosa in her analysis of the death drive in Wuthering Heights—it is language, a system based on separation and difference, that is responsible for the psychic rupture that renders wholeness impossible. The move from the pre-Oedipal, pre-linguistic “imaginary” into the symbolic realm necessitates a departure from this original wholeness, resulting in a system in which “language and desire are both positioned around loss” (Derosa 28). The repetition of trauma and self-destructive behaviors, then, can be read as an attempt to return to this earlier state of wholeness, a “desire to attain a kind of fullness outside the range of discursive signification” (Derosa 32).

While Tyler, referencing Madden, presents Heathcliff as the primary enactor of the repetition compulsion in Wuthering Heights, Derosa instead presents a reading that figures Catherine Earnshaw as the novel’s main embodiment of the death drive. In light of parallels already drawn between Catherine Earnshaw and Hemingway’s Catherine Barkley, I hope to extend this reading of Earnshaw’s death drive to illuminate a similar pulse in Catherine Barkley’s character. According to DeRosa, “Catherine [Earnshaw]’s death drive involves two foundational desires: the desire to merge with Heathcliff and the desire to return to an innocent state of childhood” (33). I propose that Catherine Barkley’s death drive likewise involves two parallel desires: the desire to merge with Frederic and the desire to return to an earlier state of wholeness.

The desire to merge with the beloved is, for both—or, as I plan to show later, all three—Catherines, rooted in the desire for wholeness sought through the death drive. Perceiving themselves as fractured, split-off halves of divided egos, the Catherines seek wholeness through merger with another. For both Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Barkley, the beloved with whom they hope to merge embodies the desired state of pre-linguistic wholeness and childhood innocence. Raised together as children, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff are childhood playmates turned sweethearts. Moreover, as the illiterate “gypsy boy” who first arrives at Wuthering Heights repeating “some gibberish that nobody could understand,” young Heathcliff effectively embodies the pre-symbolic, pre-linguistic realm to which Catherine desires to return (Brontë 37). For Catherine Barkley, meanwhile, the desire to merge with Frederic is a death-driven attempt to recreate the earlier sense of unity she enjoyed with her fiancé. Others, whether or not engaged in a psychoanalytical reading, have noted that Frederic functions as a replacement for Catherine’s deceased former lover, often pointing to Frederic’s own hope that Catherine will employ him in such a role: “Maybe she would pretend I was her boy that was killed” (FTA 37). Like Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Barkley and her fiancé “grew up together” (FTA 19). Like Heathcliff, then, the fiancé represents “the sexual and necessarily language-less innocence” inherently associated with childhood in Lacanian theory (DeRosa 28). While Catherine’s fiancé is presumably not illiterate, he resists language in other ways, embodying—like Heathcliff—the pre-linguistic phase to which the death drive aims to return. Nameless and therefore not represented by a linguistic sign, Catherine’s fiancé predeceases Frederic’s narrative, effectively leaving him outside the linguistic realm represented by the narrative structure itself. Catherine’s attempt to recreate that earlier wholeness through a merger with Frederic, then, represents a desire to return to the pre-linguistic, pre-symbolic realm.

What my own language here betrays, however, is the sheer inescapability of the symbolic order. Even those characters whom I have here identified as “representative” of the pre-linguistic realm thusly remain trapped in structures of representation that are inherently symbolic. Addressing this quandary, DeRosa explains that the novel, as a form, is an inherently linguistic structure eternally moored in representation. The novel, then, is in direct opposition to the death drive, and cannot help but “save its own life,” as well as “the lives of the characters desperately trying to die within it” (34). Indeed, although both Catherines literally succumb to their death drives, dying in childbirth, their deaths hardly constitute a transcendence of the symbolic order. As Tyler notes, both Catherines’ stories are told only after they die, imprisoning them in narratives in which they are both “grievously misunderstood and misrepresented” by their retrospective first-person narrators (83). Misrepresentation, of course, still constitutes representation, and both Catherines are left eternally imprisoned within the symbolic, despite their best death-driven efforts to escape it. In fact, it could even be argued that it is death itself that ultimately thwarts these characters’ attempts to escape the symbolic. In his reading of A Farewell to Arms as a trauma narrative, Trevor Dodman figures Catherine’s death as the trauma Frederic hopes to revisit and overcome through narrative representation: “Looking back on events, reconstructing his memories, Frederic reveals a desire for a whole and perfect retelling of the past; his narration functions as a prosthesis meant to stave off a sense of the self as a disarticulated scar” (250). In this way, then, Catherine’s attempt to transcend the symbolic in death is in fact the very action that leaves her immortalized in the symbolic realm of Frederic’s narrative.

In a shared attempt to escape the symbolic and return to a state of psychic wholeness, both Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Barkley follow the death drive to its literal end, only to become eternally imprisoned and immortalized in the very structures they sought to escape. In the wake of her failed predecessors, Hemingway’s second Catherine, The Garden of Eden’s Catherine Bourne, emerges to avenge the thwarted attempts of her literary foremothers. Unlike Catherines Earnshaw and Barkley, Catherine Bourne does not succumb to her death drive. Instead, her destructive impulses successfully issue a challenge to the phallocentric structures of meaning inherent in the Lacanian conception of language, signaling a subversion of the patriarchal order.

Despite a considerably younger and shorter critical lifespan than her eponymous predecessor in A Farewell to Arms, Catherine Bourne’s critical reputation is scarcely less controversial than Catherine Barkley’s. To return to the binary approach Spanier identifies and challenges, critics are easily and understandably tempted to resign Catherine Bourne to the cast of Hemingway women “who destroy men” (76). Taking the Biblical bait set out in the title, criticism of The Garden of Edenreadily casts Catherine as “Eve and serpent rolled into one” (“Literary Jealousy and Destruction” 99). In a less canonical approach to the Garden of Eden mythology, Tamara Powell even figures Catherine Bourne as Lilith, “the archetypal woman-as-destroyer” (78).

Of course, these comparisons can hardly be called unjustified. Catherine herself invites if not demands them, unabashedly declaring herself “the destructive type” in her very first appearance in the novel (GOE 5). As noted earlier, such declarations of destructive impulses are among the key ways in which the Catherines of A Farewell to Arms and The Garden of Eden echo each other. However, while Catherine Barkley’s desire “to ruin” Frederic remains a mere wish, Catherine Bourne’s destruction is given as a promise—one she pursues with much greater intent than her predecessor—solidified in her final, infamous destruction of David’s manuscripts. While Catherine Barkley merely expresses a desire to destroy — “I wantto ruin you” —Catherine Bourne makes it clear that she has no intention of seeing her own desire go unfulfilled, instead promising, “I’m going todestroy you” (emphases mine, FTA 305, GOE 5). Moreover, Catherine Bourne continues to elaborate, promising to enact such a memorable—however unnamed—act of destruction that it will warrant “a plaque up on the wall of the building outside the room. I’m going to wake up in the night and do something to you that you’ve never seen or heard of or imagined” (GOE 5). Certainly there is, as Eby identifies, “something sinister” at work beneath this “playful and loving” banter (“Literary Jealousy and Destruction” 99).

However, unlike the many critics that have cast Catherine as the successor to serpentine evil in the Garden of Eden mythology, I see this “something sinister” as not so much Satanic as it is Lacanian. As Eby contends, “Almost the entire psychosexual content of The Garden of Edencan be found in A Farewell to Arms, only expressed more subtly” (“Reading Hemingway Backwards” 109). Among these psychosexual parallels, I again point to the death drive as the underlying force through which to trace and explain Catherine Bourne’s destructive impulses, uniting her with Catherine Barkley in their shared pursuit of psychic wholeness.

Just as Catherine Barkley’s insistent desire to merge with Frederic renders her destructive impulses toward him in fact self-destructive, so does Catherine Bourne’s insistence on twinning and merger with David transform her acts of destruction into those of self-destruction. Like Catherine Barkley, who loves Frederic so much she wants to be him, Catherine Bourne longs for a total merger with her husband in which “you can’t tell who is who” (GOE 17). Catherine Bourne’s insistence on matching haircuts and even referring to David as “Catherine” suggests that, like Catherine Barkley, Catherine Bourne wants to beher husband. And, according to some interpretations, she is. Eby presents a reading that figures Catherine and David as two halves of a divided ego—namely, Hemingway’s ego. According to Eby, “Both David and Catherine are, of course, reflections of Hemingway’s imagination and different aspects of his psyche,” with Catherine Bourne representing “Hemingway’s split-off other-sex alter-ego” (“Literary Jealousy and destruction” 104). Significantly, Eby repeats almost this exact parlance in his analysis of A Farewell to Arms as “a book about the onset of Hemingway’s fetishism and the birth of ‘Catherine’ as the split-off other-sex half of his ego” (“Reading Hemingway Backwards” 109). This reading, as Eby elaborates, “helps us to understand why Catherine and Frederic want to ‘be’ each other—for on some level, as emblems of two halves of a divided ego, they already are” (111). Thus, Catherine’s destructive actions—though certainly more egregious than those of her predecessor—do not constitute acts of vengeance or jealousy against her husband so much as they do a desperate attempt to escape the symbolic and restore unity through merger with the other half of her divided ego.

Whether or not we accept Eby’s biographical approach, the figuration of Catherine and David as two halves of a divided ego—Hemingway’s or otherwise—can help align Catherine’s destructive impulses with the death drive. As one half of a divided ego, Catherine belongs to a world of separation and fractured identity. Like Catherine Barkley, who desires to return to the earlier state of wholeness she enjoyed with her fiancé by merging with Frederic, Catherine Bourne’s death drive manifests in her desire to restore psychic wholeness through merger with the other half of her fractured identity. For Catherine Barkley, this earlier state of wholeness is represented by her relationship with her late fiancé, who predeceases the novel and evades symbolic participation in Frederic’s narrative. For Catherine Bourne, this “earlier” state of psychic wholeness has a more literal Freudian parallel, corresponding to the androgyny of infancy.

Queer experimentation and androgyny are among the most notable motifs that first appear in A Farewell to Arms, where they are stunted by “a greater degree of condensation, displacement, and symbolization,” only to resurface relatively uncensored in The Garden of Eden(“Reading Hemingway Backwards” 109). Pointing to Catherine Barkley’s fascination with merger, desire for twin haircuts, and momentary allusion to lesbianism — “I wish I’d stayed with all your girls” — Debra Moddelmog notes that “there is more than an implication in A Farewell to Arms that gender transgressions and reversals of traditional male and female roles during sex lie beneath the androgynous fusion of two parts into one whole” (FTA 299, Moddelmog 18). What is perhaps “more than an implication” in A Farewell to Armsbecomes a blatant portrayal in The Garden of Eden, with Catherine Bourne actually completing many of the queer experiments to which Catherine Barkley only alludes. Catherine Bourne “changes from a girl into a boy and back to a girl carelessly and happily” (GOE 31). She successfully convinces David to get the matching, androgynous haircuts that Catherine Barkley proposes, with little response, to Frederic. In her sexual relationship with Marita, Catherine Bourne even “stays with” one of David’s girls.

In Freudian psychoanalysis, androgyny is pre-symbolic, reflective of the infant’s pre-linguistic state of “polymorphous perversity.” Thus, Catherine’s desire for androgyny becomes a manifestation of her death drive. Her queer experimentation constitutes an attempt to return to an earlier, pre-symbolic state of wholeness and unity characterized by androgyny. This death-driven fascination with androgyny can also help explain Catherine’s ultimate act of destruction: the burning of David’s manuscripts. The honeymoon narrative that Catherine prefers, and which she played some role in the creation of, is “androgynously conceived,” while the African narrative that she destroys is a “masculine narrative” from which she is excluded (Burwell 199). Catherine destroys the masculine text in order to restore and preserve the androgynous wholeness of the honeymoon narrative.

Catherine’s death drive also surfaces in her almost overtly Lacanian fascination with mirrors. A recurring motif throughout The Garden of Eden, the use of mirrors has notable parallels in related Hemingway texts as well, including A Farewell to Arms and the short story “The Sea Change.” In The Garden of Eden, Catherine expresses a desire for a bar mirror at the hotel: “A bar’s no good without a mirror…Then we can all see each other when we talk rot and know how rotty it is. You can’t fool a bar mirror” (GOE 103). In basic Lacanian ideology, the mirror stage is a pre-symbolic state in which infants respond to a seemingly coherent image of wholeness reflected in the mirror. Catherine’s obsession with mirrors reflects her desire to return to this earlier state. Seeing herself as the split-off half of a divided ego, Catherine—like the pre-symbolic infant—responds to and craves the image of wholeness in the mirror. Incorporating French feminism, Kathy Willingham perhaps best outlines Catherine’s relationship to mirrors in the Lacanian register:

Catherine’s inability to access language, or to enter into the Symbolic smoothly, in the Lacanian sense, is further reinforced by Catherine’s obsession for gazing into mirrors. She is so fascinated with observing herself that she suggests purchasing a mirror to hang in the bar so that the three of them “can all see each other when we talk rot and know how rotty it is. You can’t fool a bar mirror.” Cixous repeatedly speaks of alienation from the symbolic as advantageous, and Catherine’s interest in mirrors shows a similar satisfaction with existence in the imaginary or pre-symbolic condition. (52)

For Catherine, then, mirrors are a way to transcend the symbolic and access the Lacanian “real.”

For David, however, mirrors are a source of distress and dissociation. “It’s when I start looking quizzical in one that I know I’ve lost,” he tells Catherine (GOE103). Indeed, like the unnamed young man in “The Sea Change,” who looks into the bar mirror and sees “a different man,” David often finds himself “looking quizzical” in mirrors (“The Sea Change” 401). David resists mirrors because, as pre-symbolic, they challenge patriarchal constructions of meaning. As a writer, David deals in the symbolic, and recognizes that Catherine’s death drive is in direct opposition to linguistic creation. Calling on Sarah Webster Goodwin and Elizabeth Bronfen’s argument in Death and Representation, DeRosa explains the conflict between the death drive and symbolic representation: “‘Representations are fantasies of wholeness, invented to protect each human being from confronting an initial traumatic experience that installed them in the first place as split-off meanings, as re-presented.’ Thus, any encounter with the real is an encounter with the realm outside of representation; representations and death are always in direct opposition” (DeRosa 28). For David, then, merger with Catherine is a threat to the symbolic order, which of course includes his own writing. He wants to resist merging with Catherine and instead maintain the separation that, in Lacanian theory, makes language possible. For this reason, David is compelled to dissociate when he looks into mirrors, seeing “someone else” and resisting the psychic wholeness of the imaginary that threatens the male symbolic order of separation and difference (GOE 84). Frederic, too, experiences similar instances of dissociation when confronted with mirrors in A Farewell to Arms. While Catherine Barkley expresses her desire “to do something really sinful” as she combs her hair in front of the mirror, Frederic shows resistance and dissociation around mirrors, at various points throughout the novel regarding his own reflected image as “strange” or “fake” (FTA153, 258, 311, 319). For Catherine Barkley, like Catherine Bourne, the mirror is a way of accessing the death drive. For the men with whom they seek to merge in order to reclaim the imaginary, however, mirrors pose a threat to the male symbolic order. Unlike Catherine Barkley, Catherine Bourne thwarts this male resistance with the successful installation of the hotel bar mirror, foreshadowing her consummate challenge to the patriarchal order through her destruction of David’s manuscripts.

This reading has alluded to a number of ways in which Catherine Bourne successfully consummates the unfulfilled desires of Catherine Barkley. In The Garden of Eden, Catherine Bourne fulfills Catherine Barkley’s haircut fantasy and engages in physical acts of twinning and gender bending instead of mere verbal expressions of metaphorical oneness. Finally, in her most infamous act of destruction, Catherine Bourne destroys David’s manuscripts, successfully issuing a challenge to the symbolic order in which her predecessor remains imprisoned.

While Catherine’s destructive impulses are infamous, they cannot entirely obscure her creative ones, however stunted. Catherine frequently expresses a frustrated desire for creative output, comparing her inability to paint and write to an insatiable hunger she is powerless to quench (GOE 53). Despite Catherine’s own doubts, critics have noted that her creativity is not simply abortive, but rather seeks other outlets. Eby explains that “Catherine and David’s creativities work very differently—largely in different psychological registers” (“Literary Jealousy and Destruction” 101). Taking a Lacanian approach, Eby claims that Catherine “creates in the register of the imaginary; David in the symbolic. Her imagination is driven by identification; David’s by representation. She stresses the signified; David the signifier” (100). What Eby neglects to emphasize, however, is that these creative differences are not merely personal, but gendered. As Willingham points out, Catherine lacks “full access to the traditionally male-controlled tool of literature” because of her gender (47).

In Lacanian theory, entry into the symbolic is made possible by the “law of the father” or the “father’s no.” When the imaginary is disrupted by threat of castration in Lacan’s refiguring of the Oedipus complex, the father’s opposition to the son’s incestuous desire for the mother thrusts the child out of the imaginary and into the symbolic. Thus, the symbolic realm is inherently patriarchal. As a woman, Catherine Bourne is excluded from male-centric structures of meaning, and instead “employs a language which clearly opposes phallogocentric discourse” (Willingham 59). In destroying David’s manuscripts, Catherine seeks to both annihilate the patriarchal order of language from which she has been excluded, as well as to abolish the male text that separates her from David and thwarts her efforts to merge with him in pre-symbolic wholeness. What is often viewed as a jealous attack on the husband is actually a desperate, self-destructive act intended to thrust both Catherine and David out of the symbolic so they can merge and restore the wholeness of a single, undivided ego.

In this physical attack on the symbolic order, Catherine Bourne exhibits some influence from her earliest predecessor, Catherine Earnshaw. In Wuthering Heights, DeRosa notes Catherine Earnshaw’s “aversion to to the printed word,” pointing to a scene in which a ghostly Catherine pushes aside a pile of books Lockwood has assembled in an attempt to prevent her entry into his bed: “While she can manage to thrust the books protecting Lockwood aside, thereby demonstrating her control over the texts, she is also in thrusting them aside destroying the barrier that separates her from Lockwood; and Lockwood, as stand-in for Heathcliff, is precisely the ‘other’ to whom Catherine wishes to connect” (31). Like Catherine Earnshaw, who violently thrusts aside text in an attempt to merge with another in the pre-symbolic, Catherine Bourne’s destruction of David’s manuscript is an attempt to destroy the story that has literally created a fissure in their marriage, as well as to destroy the patriarchal system of language that ruptured the psychic wholeness of the imaginary to which she wishes to return.

Catherine Bourne, of course, does not succeed in abolishing the symbolic order. In fact, in the novel’s uncharacteristically optimistic ending, both David and the text appear to make a full recovery, with David rewriting the stories in a triumphant blaze of reclaimed authority. Catherine’s challenge to the symbolic, however, does seem to authorize her participation in the patriarchal discourse she seeks to subvert. Despite an earlier lamentation that she “can’t even write a letter,” Catherine does write a letter to David at the end of the novel, one he even acknowledges as moving (GOE 53, 237). Conversely, Catherine Barkley remembers on her deathbed that she meant to write Frederic a letter, but “didn’t do it” (FTA330). Once again, Catherine Bourne succeeds where Catherine Barkley fails. Through her subversive efforts, Catherine Bourne successfully navigates the symbolic in a way that neither of her predecessors—whose deaths render them imprisoned in the symbolic realm of narrative—manage.

Catherine Bourne’s literal survival, then, emerges as another key way in which she triumphs over her predecessors. As noted, both Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Barkley die in childbirth. By contrast, Catherine Bourne not only survives her narrative, but in fact struggles to conceive. Viewed in light of the Lacanian significance of dying in childbirth, Catherine Bourne’s failure to conceive becomes yet another way in which she triumphs over the patriarchal systems that lead the other Catherines to their demise. In basic Lacanian ideology, as outlined by Doreen Fowler, a child enters the realm of the symbolic and acquires language by becoming aware of difference and separating from the mother. If separation from the mother is the key to the symbolic realm, then “the murder of the mother is constructed as positive step toward establishing identity,” (317). This Lacanian tradition of symbolic matricide can help explain why both Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Barkley die in childbirth. Catherine Bourne, however, escapes this fate. While critics often figure Bourne’s failure or inability to conceive as symptomatic of her other creative failures: “She finds that she can’t even have what she calls ‘a damned baby’” (“Literary Jealousy and Destruction” 100), I read Catherine’s childlessness as yet another way in which she successfully thwarts the patriarchal order.

As a survivor, Catherine Bourne is able to successfully exit the narrative. Her last appearance in the novel is in her letter, through which she briefly takes control of the narrative before fleeing it. She does not remain imprisoned in the symbolic order via a man’s first-person narrative, like both Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Barkley, whose death-driven attempts to escape the symbolic only render them immortalized in the writing of male narrators. Catherine Bourne does not literally succumb to her death drive—at least not in the current published edition of the novel. She does not become yet another ghostly Catherine trapped in a haunted text. In her successful navigation of the symbolic, Catherine Bourne manages to both escape and survive.

It would be easy enough to write off Hemingway’s repetition of the name Catherine as mere coincidence. It is, after all, a common name. It could even be argued that Hemingway was only using the familiar name as a place holder, and would have changed it before the novel’s publication. However, as Eby points out, it is clear that Hemingway spent a lot of time thinking about the name Catherine, both within and outside of his fictional pursuits. It was the name he used for himself when exploring his own other-sex alter-ego, and he also considered repeating the name yet again on another character in theGarden of Eden manuscript, even toying with the working title “The Two Catherines” (“Literary Jealousy and Destruction” 104).

Clearly, the name Catherine implied an inherent doubleness for Hemingway, one that I think can perhaps trace the whispers of its origins to Emily Brontë’s original tale of two Catherines. As alluded to earlier, Wuthering Heightsis itself a novel of “two Catherines” —Catherine Earnshaw and her daughter Catherine Linton. And just as Catherine Earnshaw “is” Heathcliff, Hemingway’s Catherine Barkley “is” Frederic, and Catherine Bourne, in turn, “is” David. Thus, if Catherine Bourne is the serpentine destroyer of Eden, it is not out of jealous vengeance against her husband. Her destructive impulses echo a long literary tradition of desperate attempts to reclaim the other half of the self.

Works Cited

Alexander, Christine and Margaret Smith. “Wuthering Heights, A Novel.” The Oxford Companion to the Brontës. Oxford UP, 2003. pp. 553-561.

Burwell, Rose Marie. “Hemingway’s Garden of Eden: Resistance of Things Past and Protecting the Masculine Text.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 35, no. 2, 1993, pp. 198–225. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40755009.

Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004. Dodman, Trevor. “‘Going All to Pieces’: ‘A Farewell to Arms’ as Trauma Narrative.” Twentieth Century Literature, vol. 52, no. 3, 2006, pp. 249–274. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20479772.

Eby, Carl P. “Who is “The Destructive Type?’: Re-Reading Literary Jealousy and Destructionin The Garden of Eden.” The Hemingway Review, vol. 33 no. 2, 2014, pp. 99-106. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hem.2014.0005

Eby, Carl P. “Reading Hemingway Backwards.” Teaching Hemingway and Gender ed. by Verna Kale (review).” The Hemingway Review, vol. 37 no. 1, 2017, pp. 104-114. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hem.2017.0025

Fowler, Doreen. “Matricide and the Mother’s Revenge: As I Lay Dying.” The Faulkner Journal 4. 1&2 (1991). Rpt. in As I Lay Dying. Edited by Michael Gorra. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner, 2003. Hemingway, Ernest. The Garden of Eden. New York: Scribner, 1995.

Hemingway, Ernest. “The Sea Change.” Ernest Hemingway: The Short Stories. New York: Scribner.

James, Pearl. “Regendering War Trauma and Relocating the Abject: Catherine Barkley’sDeath.” The New Death: American Modernism and World War I, University of VirginiaPress, 2013, pp. 119–159. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wrkcw.8.

Moddelmog, D. A. ‘“We Live in a Country Where Nothing Makes any Difference”: The Queer Sensibility of A Farewell to Arms.” The Hemingway Review, vol. 28 no. 2, 2009, pp. 7-24. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hem.0.0029

Powell, Tamara M. “Lilith started it! Catherine as Lilith in ‘The Garden of Eden.'”The Hemingway Review, vol. 15, no. 2, 1996, p. 78+. Academic OneFile.

Spanier, Sandra Whipple, and Scott Donaldson. Hemingway’s Unknown Soldier: CatherineBarkley, the Critics, and the Great War. Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Tyler, Lisa. “Passion and Grief in ‘A Farewell to Arms’: Ernest Hemingway’s Retelling of ‘Wuthering Heights'”.” Hemingway Review, vol. 14, no. 2, 1995, pp. 79-96. ProQuest.

Willingham, Kathy. “Hemingway’s ‘The Garden of Eden’: Writing with the body.” Hemingway Review, vol. 12, no. 2, 1993, pp. 46-61.

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