Throughout the novel, A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway developed a specific discipline and behavior for a true Hemingway “code hero”. Although there are many characters in the novel, each one of them possessed a similar or contrasting characteristic of a “code hero”. While Frederic Henry became a true “code hero” by the end of the novel, Catherine Barkley was a better example of a “code hero” throughout the course of the novel. Hemingway’s definition of a code hero stated that there were many qualities, some more important than others, needed in order to be classified as a true “code hero”. The most important characteristics required to be a true Hemingway “code hero” like Catherine Barkley are bravery, immorality, and discipline.
According to the Hemingway hero’s philosophy, a truly brave “code hero” was a stoic person, who accepted the fear of a situation and did not complain about it. “I’m not a bit afraid. It’s just a dirty trick.” This was all that Catherine said shortly before she died. However, Catherine died according to her view of what the brave should do in death as in life. A brave person should simply not mention their fear of the deaths that they have encountered. Death was the end of everything and life was devoted to exposing oneself to all types of physical pleasures, which were the rewards a Hemingway hero would strive for in life.
Catherine dismissed the traditional concepts of morality and developed her own system of moral values. Because of her self-created values, she did not marry yet, she was pregnant and did not want the child to be baptized. In a way, Helen Ferguson was the living symbol of the traditional concepts of morality. She disliked Frederic since he and Catherine were not married but continued to pretend as if they were. Helen felt this was wrong and that they should have been married especially since Catherine was pregnant. This controversy with Helen only further illustrated the fact that Catherine was a non-conformist to the traditional moral values of the day.
The most important characteristic required of a Hemingway hero” was discipline. Self-discipline was a value, which grows out of one’s essential being. When Frederic had to return to the front, Catherine didn’t even cry or display any disappointment about his leaving. This was an excellent example of the discipline of refusing to be emotional about an event. If a “code hero” ever expressed any emotion, they would often be ashamed of having done so. Even though she was involved in the war since she was a nurse, Catherine never spoke of the ravages of war or expressed any feeling toward the war. Talking was considered to be emotionalism, which involved thinking. A Hemingway hero was not a thinker but a person of action.
Catherine Barkley exemplified the “code hero” by possessing a great sense of bravery, her own sense of immorality, and her own sense of discipline. A Hemingway hero must be brave in the face of danger, must push aside the traditional moral values, and must have discipline to block out true emotion. These characteristics were just a few of the many that a Hemingway “code hero” must possess. While each “code hero” may have shared similar qualities, when and how each detail was discovered varies greatly from character to character. Unlike Frederic Henry, Catherine possessed all of these qualities from the beginning of the novel, which led Hemingway to create Catherine Barkley as the true Hemingway “code hero”.
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