Discussion of Stereotypes in a Farewell to Arms

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"All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened," Hemingway wrote just five years after publishing A Farewell to Arms, a novel written about the war in Italy, which is ironic because A Farewell to Arms can be seen as a semi-autobiographical novel, as some of the events that occur in the novel are based off of Hemingway's own life. The parallels from the novel and Hemingway's life are evident-- the protagonist, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, is an ambulance driver in the Italian army, just as Hemingway himself was an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, serving in Italy. Hemingway also fell in love with a nurse, however her name was not Catherine Barkley, as it is in the novel, it was Agnes von…show more content…
Authors of this viewpoint call Catherine Barkley—“a strong and fully realized character” by displaying honor, courage, and “grace under pressure” (Spanier,132), who models for Frederic survival methods for living in chaos and making a limited freedom by living one’s own “roles and rituals.” The only other prominent female characters in A Farewell to Arms are Catherine’s fellow nurses, the important ones being Miss Van Campen and Helen Ferguson. Miss Van Campen is an older nurse that constantly nags Henry for having alcohol, and after he gets jaundice, has his leave revoked for “producing self-inflicted jaundice with alcoholism” (Hemingway, 144). Miss Van Campen only fits into Hemingway’s stereotype in that she is a nurse. Other than her matronly job, she is fierce, going openly head to head with Lieutenant Henry while he is sick. Helen Ferguson is Catherine’s friend, and when Catherine and Henry’s love affair begins to take off, Helen is concerned for Catherine’s emotional well-being. She is the logical side of Catherine, and also plays a motherly parental role towards her, advising Henry to let Catherine not do night duty, and even saying "But watch out you don’t get her in trouble. You get her in trouble and I’ll kill you” (109-111). Hemingway gives her no depth, except for these few matronly traits she possesses. Completely opposite from Hemingway’s vision of an ideal woman is his vision of an ideal male. His ideal males are seen in almost every

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