Catherine: A Manipulative Caretaker
In A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry is characterized initially by a sort of detachment from life-though well-disciplined and friendly, he feels as if he has nothing to do with the war. These feelings of detachment are pushed away when Henry falls in love with Catherine and begins to realize the hostile nature of the world. In this way, Henry serves the function of a character that becomes initiated in Hemingway's philosophy of an indifferent universe and man's struggle against it. Due to the untimely death of a fiancé previous to the events of this book, Catherine is initiated into Hemingway's philosophy, and exemplifies the traits of the Hemingway code hero throughout the novel. She is characterized primarily by her disregard for social conventions as well as an unfaltering devotion to Henry. Catherine is defined as a code hero because of her honor, courage, and endurance in pain. Honor is defined as having a keen sense of ethical conduct. For Catherine, the ethical conduct is keeping Henry happy, and in doing so, she is keeping herself happy. At first glance, Catherine Barkley appears to be an example of any man’s fantasy girl. She appears as a dull character that asks nothing of Henry and is only there to make him happy. Because of this, it is said that Catherine's character is demeaning to women. Catherine Barkley's basic approach to her relationship with Frederic shows her as being inferior. She appears to gladly accept a lower role in her relationship with Frederic. "I'll do what you want and say what you want," she tells him, "and then I'll be a great success, won't I" (Hemmingway105). Her idea of a successful relationship, and of happiness, is based on making Frederic happy no matter what she has to do. Like the code hero, she handles conflicting needs with grace, giving to both, but shorting none. She uses Henry as a template to fulfill her need for her dead fiancé. And because Henry is characterized as...
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