Cleansing a Dirty Fredric
"The most beautiful as well as the most ugly inclinations of man are not part of a fixed biologically given human nature, but result from the social process which creates man." -Erich Fromm. Fromm is depicting exactly what A Farewell to Arms illustrates, which is that men are born neither good nor evil instead their actions define them. This is much like the philosophies of the Sophists like Jean Paul Sartre who also said that the existence of man comes before the essence of man, or in other words a man’s actions determines his nature. In his book, A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway demonstrates how people are desperately trying to act purely despite their sins by contrasting the motif of clean and dirty and having Fredric Henry washing himself all the time.
To be dirty or sinful is normally bad and many objects, places and people who are associating with being dirty are illustrating a sinful nature. At one point Fredric sees the armies just forming for war and says “the trucks splashed mud on the road and the troops were muddy and wet in their capes..." (Hemingway 4). This is Fredric's first encounter of the war and even from the beginning when he didn't have any personal interest in it, he perceived the war as dirty and bad. In other words Henry thought even if only subconsciously that the war was sinful, which it was because so many people where dying. After Fredric gets his knee blown up on the battle field he is in the hospital he awakes thinking, "There was sunlight coming in through the shutters. I saw the big armoire, the bare walls, and two chairs. My legs in the dirty bandages, stuck straight out in the bed. I was careful not to move them "(Hemingway 84). This quote is important because he refers to the bandages on his legs as being dirty. When Fredric refers to something as dirty, such as the war, it is bad and it means that it is on the sinful side. Fredric mentions the dirtiness of his bandages because the war is bad...
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