Farewell To Arms And Meaning Of Love 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 Sanfords 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 Catherines animus and Fredericks 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 others company. The weakness of this relationship gets obvious through Catherines self-destructive behavior.
She feels completed only through him, as though it was through him that she found herself. With sentences like “..there isnt any me. Im you. Dont 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 Henrys case we find a couple ignoring the areas where they dont 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. Catherines 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 fiancée, 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 cant 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 dont always understand and comprehend each one of them. The story only makes sense as a whole, regarding true love and sacrificing parts of ones 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. Bibliography Hemingway, Ernest: A Farewell to Arms. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. Sanford, John A.: The Invisible Partners. New York/Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1980.