Frederic Henry: Code Hero Essay

912 words - 4 pages

A Hemingway Code Hero is a trait that almost every main character of Ernest Hemingway’s novels possesses. According to Hemingway, a Code Hero is a man (or woman) who lives correctly and demonstrates respect for honor and courage during a chaotic and stressful world. There is a particular pattern to how a Code Hero conducts his or her life on a day to day basis. In the novel A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry is the Code Hero because fate is a determining role in his life’s events, he lives in the here and now, and he shows grace under pressure.

The first and most accurate trait that Frederic Henry exemplifies is that fate plays a determining role in his life events. Fate rules almost every single major event in the novel. Frederic’s entire life is due to fate and chance. Before the war, Frederic just wanders around without much purpose. His family is sending him money to live on, and he is spoiled. He enrolls in the Italian army just because he is there when they enter the war. He meets Catherine by the fate of the British nurses being stationed at his unit’s hospital. When Frederic is injured by Austrian fire, it is simply luck that Catherine is transferred there as well. Fate sends Frederic back to the front into a retreat, and fate brings him to the checkpoint that endangers his life. The men are executing officers for abandoning their men, so Henry jumps into the river and fate is what keeps him alive. He finds Catherine, and fate allows them to keep safe while they run to Switzerland. However, the fate that rules Henry’s life is rather ruthless to the couple. Fate decides to give Catherine a rough childbirth that ends in a stillborn and the death of Catherine. Many of these events are far out of Frederic’s control and a quote from chapter fourteen shows just how helpless Frederic really is. In reference to Catherine, he says "God knows I didn't mean to fall in love with her."

The second trait that Henry demonstrates is living in the here and now – he seeks his rewards on earth through pleasures. Henry makes this most apparent in the beginning of the novel when he takes his leave travelling from whorehouse to whorehouse, and throughout the entire novel with his drinking. He does not imagine life after death, so he seeks all rewards while he is alive. He does what he wants and does not consider the results of his actions. He has no remorse for abandoning the Italian army; just pleasure because he can finally be with his Catherine. He makes all of his decisions based on...

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