How Does Hemingway Challenge the Notion of Heroism

Topics: Hero, Courage, A Farewell to Arms Pages: 4 (1361 words) Published: October 31, 2012
1. “He was a legitimate hero who bored everyone he met.” How does Hemingway challenge the notion of heroism within A Farwell to Arms?

The concept of heroism in A Farewell to Arms is contested as Hemingway asserted what he defines as the deeds, goals, and the necessity of a hero. Heroism is defined by Hemingway as a character trait which allows the person to abide by a personal code that not only fights for themself, but for those around him. These actions are called into question as the arrogance of other characters, such as Ettore, Bonello, and the engineers, is compared to Henry who seemingly eschewed glory for the sake of protection. This allowed Hemingway to articulate how a hero should act and determine what a hero should base their decisions upon. The gratification of heroism is also put in context as Hemingway challenges what a hero should fight for. Whether they fight for a sense of personal glory and success, or a far more intangible notion, such as happiness. Indeed, Hemingway does define heroism as the ability to abide by a moral code of honour to achieve survival and defend companions in the hope of achieving some form of happiness, a definition made manifest through the protagonist, Frederic Henry. The nature of heroism is not the only theme Hemingway explores here, with the relevance and necessity of bravery in society also up for examination.

The intrinsic notion of heroism was challenged continuously by Hemingway throughout the novel as he justified how a hero should act and think. Hemingway's hero, Henry, shunned glory for a more personal code of honour, as, “abstract words such as glory, honour, courage, or hallow," were ‘obscene’. Implying that a hero does not seek accolades or recognition for acts, unlike the selfish and boastful Ettore, who Hemingway uses in juxtaposition to Henry.

Hemingway’s definition of a hero also does not seek heroism for heroism's sake; instead, the hero's moral code defines his actions, determining whether...
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