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True Love In Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms

1061 words - 5 pages

True Love in A Farewell to Arms


At first look, Catherine Barkley, the woman from Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, appears to be an example of a dream girl. She emerges as a mindless character who asks nothing of her man and exists only to satisfy his needs. Therefore, it has been propounded that Catherine's character is demeaning to women. By analyzing the actions of only one of the characters, however, the special relationship that exists between Frederic and Catherine is overlooked. If Catherine is Hemingway's manner of demeaning women then one must also examine the manner in which Frederic is described, for he too is very dependent and dedicated to Catherine as she is to him. ...view middle of the document...

"We have such a fine time," she says, "I don't take any interest in anything else anymore"(154).


To look at only one side of the relationship between Catherine and Frederic, however, fails to recognize the co-dependency that is present. Devotion occurs in both directions between two lovers. In the beginning, Frederic is admittedly not looking for commitment. "I knew I did not love Catherine Barkley," he tells us, "nor had any idea of loving her"(30). For him, the pursuit of Catherine was "a game" that he played to keep himself entertained. As time goes on, his attitude changes until he is truly in love with her. "When I saw her I was in love with her," he admits, "Everything turned over inside of me"(91). By this point in time, Frederic's devotion to Catherine is equal to if not greater than her devotion to him. Many of his claims about his love to her closely parallel the statements quoted in the paragraph above. Eventually his entire life revolves around his mate. "All I wanted was to see Catherine," Frederic says, "The rest of the time I was glad to kill"(117). Like her, he loses interest in everything else but their love. "My life used to be full of everything," he tells her, "Now if you aren't with me I haven't a thing in the world"(257). His dedication is like that of a husband. When he returns to the front, Rinaldi remarks that he acts "like a married man"(167). Frederic's dedication to Catherine is as strong as hers is to him. Although originally it was not his intent, he eventually falls completely and mindlessly in love with her.


The devotion that each character shows for the other is demonstrated in a number of conversations between the two. The conversations further support the notion that Catherine and Frederic are one and no longer function as individuals. For instance, in a conversation concerning Frederic going on vacation:

"Wouldn't you like to go on a trip somewhere by...

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