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Comparing "For Whom The Bell Tolls" And "A Farewell To Arms" Which Are Both By Ernest Hemingway

2546 words - 10 pages

Hemingway and the Struggle of Masculinity in WarMen in A Farewell to Arms and For Whom The Bell TollsThe name of Ernest Hemingway has long been associated with the idea of a strong, stubborn man who is very socially inept. In both A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, we are introduced to an extremely cold, unfeeling character and we see how they evolve from one type of man into another. Frederic Henry and Robert Jordan are both Americans serving overseas in some conflict, Henry being in World War I and Jordan in the Spanish Civil War between the fascists and communists, and they originally see these conflicts as a way for them to prove their manhood. They soon realize that war is not meant for all people and that it should not be glorified. They either die for their new ideas or simply vanish from our world into a realm of nothingness. This transition needs to be analysed more closely in order for us to understand it better.In A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, we see how the main character is, in the beginning, a cold and sometimes insensitive person who loves the idea of war. In Arms, we see how Henry is a calm, calculating man who tries to live up to the Western impression of how a man should act. In American history, men have tried to reassociate themselves with a deeper meaning of manhood as a way to prove to themselves that they are acting like a man should: "A broad spectrum of American men soon came to view war as the only way to cure a hopelessly flagging national masculinity"(Donnell para 35). In the beginning, Henry the confidence of a man who is able to survive anything by himself and not show any emotion about it. War itself is a glorious game to him that is a test of manhood, a way for him to prove himself to the world and still be able to walk away from it: "Well, I knew I would not be killed. Not in this war. It did not have anything to do with me. It seemed no more dangerous to me than war in the movies" (Arms Detzler 237). Henry is a man who thinks that he is unable to be harmed and tries to live a life that is morally correct while struggling through a chaotic world. The Austrian mountains around Henry are full of temptation(ie bawdy houses) and yet he never visits them. Also, he is surrounded by constant barrages of shellfire and wounded, since he is an ambulance driver, and never shows any emotion towards these men. To him, they are simply chess pieces and he is the ambulance that comes to take away the wounded from this great game.In Tolls, the main character is an American teacher, Robert Jordan, who is fighting in the Spanish Civil War. He is only in the mountains because he sees war as a glorified game for men only. When he is confronted with a task, such as blowing up a bridge to slow down enemy troop movements, he does not think about it and only focusses on what he needs to do: "He would not think about that. That was not his business. That was Golz's business. He had only one thing to do and...

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