Essay, Research Paper: Farewell To Arms And Meaning Of Love

Literature: Ernest Hemingway

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In A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway illustrates in a simple and pure style
the development of the relationship between a young American ambulance driver
and an English nurse during World War I in Italy. This love-story is marked, as
John A. Sanford describes in The Invisible Partners, by identification and
projection of the opposite sex. In the following I will give an insight of the
relationship between Lieutenant Frederick Henry and Catherine Barkley of A
Farewell to Arms related to the Jungian approach of animus and anima, mentioned
in The Invisible Partners. Furthermore, I will discuss the aspect of power in
this relationship and examine the strengths and weaknesses of this connection
and the two characters regarding their dependency to each other. Finally, I will
examine the value of ‘love’ in this relation and explain, on a personal
note, the impact of this story. From the very beginning on, the reader learns
that Frederick Henry feels detached from life and is on a quest for
identification. This gets clear in, for example, Chapter II when he gives
insight into his feelings about being with women. “Clear cold and dry” is
his view of experiences he had and the identification with his masculinity is
all he has. In addition, he is an American, fighting in a war for another
country. Isolated from his family and compatriots, he is searching for
protection from the discovery of insignificance in a world indifferent to his
well being. The reader gets the feeling that Frederick is emotionally exhausted
and has no place to go – until he gets to know Catherine Barkley. Catherine
Barkley seems a little weird at the beginning. More and more we learn about her
tragedy and leave the feeling behind that she is “crazy”. In fact, we learn
that she just totally identifies with her feminine nature and she even develops
to a devotional person who has cast aside conventional social values and lives
to her own account. Together, Lieutenant Henry and Catharine Barkley, find a way
to escape the realization of human morality and build up a casting of roles to
complement one another. Related to Sanford’s The Invisible Partners we can
conclude that he finds in her his positive anima and she in him her positive
animus. They carry a projected psychic image from the other and seem to be to
each other the source of their happiness. Both become increasingly comfortable
with what they are and what they have found in each other and adopt their new
‘roles’ easily, whenever the other is nearby. They create their own, private
world and declare themselves even as a married couple, projecting their positive
images onto each other at the same time, as though Catherine’s animus and
Frederick’s anima have fallen in love: an unconscious attraction. The person
who carries a projected psychic image from another person does have power over
that person, for as long as a part of our psyche is perceived in someone else
that other person has power over us. But who has power over whom in the case of
Catherine and Frederick? In my opinion, both have a certain power. Both
recognize the relationship as a useful device for satisfying particular
emotional needs. Playing their ‘roles’ had originally different reasons but
eventually they move to play it as a team. He plays his role to regain the sense
of order he has lost and she plays her role to find order at all. Not common
order, but her own way of dealing with life. Together they live in an idealized
world, fully falling into it when rowing across the lake, on their way to
Switzerland. The power hereby is the fact that it is impossible for them to play
their roles when they are apart and, therefore, become ultimately dependent upon
each other’s company. The weakness of this relationship gets obvious through
Catherine’s self-destructive behavior. She feels completed only through him,
as though it was through him that she found herself. With sentences like
“…there isn’t any me. I’m you. Don’t make up a separate me”
Catherine makes clear how insignificant she feels about herself and that she
sees herself only complete through him. Moreover, she makes him
“bigger-than-life” and is content with him making decisions and her loving
for him. Notwithstanding, she misses the creativity within herself, having
displaced it onto a man. The strength of this relationship lies, on the other
hand, in their intimacy. Both know what to except from each other and both are
not only fully aware, but also happy with what the other is. Paradoxically, they
either maintain or find self-esteem in giving up parts of their characters.
“Every relationship is a mixture where people meet and areas where they do not
meet because the two people are different”. In Catherine Barkley and
Lieutenant Henry’s case we find a couple ignoring the areas where they don’t
meet, and this creates a powerful bond between them, even if this means giving
up parts of their identity. The answer if this love is ‘real’ is in my
opinion principally positive. Although it is difficult to believe wholeheartedly
in his love for her until much later in their relationship, and even though we
get the feeling that they use each other, the very end convinces us of the
opposite. The moment he sees his child and “has no feeling of fatherhood”
because his son “nearly killed his mother” is in my opinion the ultimate
proof that he loves her. He rejects his innocent child in favor of his beloved
‘wife’. Catherine’s love for Henry gets clear pretty soon. Although, in
the beginning the reader perceives that she is just looking for a substitute for
her dead fiancйe, we see how her feelings increase and these feelings
leave a deep impact on us. This love is used by both to maintain their
self-images by projecting their ‘other’ side on one another, to provide
themselves with psychological support, and to escape the war, both symbolically
(“in the tent of her hair”) and literally (in Switzerland). The love that
Frederick and Catherine have for each other is more than could be explained in
words and Frederick makes it known that words are not really effective at
describing the details. Their love during an ugly war is not to be recreated or
modeled even as much as through a baby conceived by their love. The baby could
not be born alive because their love is beautiful and yet doomed so that nothing
can come out of it. On a personal level, I was shattered after reading this
story and not just because of the end. I can’t say that A Farewell to Arms is
a war story, but have to admit that it is not just a love story either. In the
first two books we are in the war and the war is overwhelming. In the last two
books we are in love. And, just as the first two books are flavored with love in
the time of war, the last two books are tinged with war in the time of love. The
third book is the bridge between the two themes and puts the relationship to a
test of depth. It is then, when we discover that this love is ‘real’, though
based on dependency. The impact of this story contains of the handling of human
beings trying to come to terms with their vulnerability. Ending tragically, the
story leaves traces in the mind of the reader and inspires to think. In
conclusion, Ernest Hemingway has written a most sensible and beautiful story
that explores the meaning of true love. With the help of simple stylistic
methods, he has created two characters, who the reader identifies with more and
more throughout the story, even if we don’t always understand and comprehend
each one of them. The story only makes sense as a whole, regarding true love and
sacrificing parts of one’s identity. It, furthermore, illustrates the colors
of projecting psychic images vividly and can therefore be seen as a perfect
example for the Jungian approach to unconscious attractions between the sexes.
Sanford discusses in The Invisible Partners the personified feminine elements in
a man, and the masculine elements in a woman through a psychological and
scientific approach and helps us comprehend on a more conscious level the battle
of love.

Hemingway, Ernest: A Farewell to Arms. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Sanford, John A.: The Invisible Partners. New York/Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1980
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