Printer Friendly

Passion and grief in 'A Farewell to Arms': Ernest Hemingway's retelling of 'Wuthering Heights.'

In an Esquire article published in February 1935 (six years after A Farewell to Arms), Ernest Hemingway presented a list of books he "would rather read again for the first time ... than have an assured income of a million dollars a year." The fourth title on the list is Wuthering Heights ("Remembering" 21). The critical community has established the influence of several of the other authors listed (perhaps most obviously Mark Twain and Sherwood Anderson) on Hemingway's development as a writer.(1) Hemingway's inclusion of Bronte's novel in his list of important works suggests that, like the other works on the list, it may, in fact, have influenced his writings in ways we have yet to frilly acknowledge.(2)

Certainly an appreciation of the importance of Hemingway's reading is vital to an understanding of his work.(3) Unlike, say, T.S. Eliot, Hemingway has not been known for his use of allusion - although he claimed to have learned the art of allusion from Eliot (DIA 139).(4) In A Farewell to Arms alone, however, Hemingway alludes to "The Waste Land," George Peele's poem "A Farewell to Arms." Shakespeare's sonnet 146, the Bible, the anonymous poem variously known as either "Western Wind" or "The Lover in Winter Plainteth for the Spring," Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Sweet and Low" from The Princess, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," Christopher Marlowe's Jew of Malta, Rudyard Kipling's Without Benefit of Clergy, Othello, and folkloristic materials, specifically revenant ballads and second-sight motifs.(5) The author also deleted an allusion to Eliot's "The Hollow Men" (Reynolds 36). Clearly, as Edward Engelbert, Robert O. Stephens, and Michael S. Reynolds have convincingly demonstrated, L'Education Sentimentale, The Charterhouse of Parma, and The Red Badge of Courage were among Hemingway's sources for the book.

I want to argue that Wuthering Heights was also an important source for Hemingway's novel. A Farewell to Arms persistently echoes Wuthering Heights in its themes and symbols, sometimes even in its minutest details. The sheer number of such allusions, and the obviousness of many, suggest that they constitute deliberate signals to the reader of the underlying thrust of the book.

This relationship between Wuthering Heights and A Farewell to Arms has several ramifications. First, and most immediately, it makes Catherine sound less like a geisha girl and more like a Romantic heroine (or perhaps hero is the better term). She becomes a more comprehensible and better realized character, one with whom feminist readers can more comfortably sympathize, and her presence helps to disprove the claim that Hemingway could not portray "real" women in his fiction.

Second, Hemingway's use of Bronte places his novel squarely in the Romantic tradition. The allusions throughout A Farewell to Arms disprove the persistent myth that Hemingway was an unread "natural," as distinct from his more overtly literary contemporaries (like James Joyce, for example, or the somewhat older T.S. Eliot). He was, it is true, less learned than either Joyce or Eliot, but he was working within established traditions as much as they were. And he was hardly the "dumb ox" described by Wyndham Lewis. Hemingway's reading, as Michael Reynolds has so diligently demonstrated, was vitally important to his writing, as important as Eliot's reading was to his, and Hemingway's use of literary (as opposed to biographical and historical) sources deserves more attention than it has thus far received.

Third, the relationship I have documented in this essay further suggests that Hemingway was more open to the writing of women writers (and indeed feminist women writers) than might be expected. Perhaps the aggressively masculine image he so assiduously cultivated has obscured his literary debt to the brilliantly imaginative Yorkshire gentlewoman. Certainly the boxing analogy Hemingway uses to describe his relationship with previous writers (e.g., "I trained hard and beat Mr. de Maupassant," qtd. in Ross 23) obscures his relationship to women writers. True, he was primarily interested in the experiences of men (and often specifically gendered experiences, like hunting, fishing, prizefighting, and combat, that women of his generation would have been unlikely to share), and most of his literary models were male. Nonetheless, as his informal apprenticeship with Gertrude Stein confirms, Hemingway both appreciated and learned from at least some women writers.

Many of the arguments developed in this essay rest on what is still a fairly unusual reading of A Farewell to Arms. According to this interpretation, most fully developed by Ernest Lockridge,(6) Catherine Barkley, as a character, is not an artistic failure on Hemingway's part. In spite of her apparent submissiveness and self-abnegation, she is not the adolescent male fantasy that so many critics have found her to be. Lockridge elaborates:

... Hemingway does not have Catherine abnegate herself to Frederic Henry; rather, she abnegates herself, when she does so, to an idea in her head. Motivated by the agonizing grief and loss that she still feels after a year of mourning, Catherine Barkley is acting out through the narrator a one-sided, therapeutic game of "pretend." ... Through willed, deliberate projection upon the narrator, Frederic Henry, Catherine has temporarily resurrected her fiance of eight years, blown "all to bits" on the Somme. (173-74)

This interpretation of the novel is confirmed by an allusion not mentioned in the list given earlier. Twice Hemingway alludes in this novel to Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress." At one point, Frederic himself quotes two lines from the poem:

But at my back, I always hear

Time's winged chariot hurrying near. (FTA 154)

Later, Frederic seems to be referring to these same lines more obliquely (Anderson 435): "We knew the baby was very close now and it gave us both a feeling as though something were hurrying us and we could not lose any time together" (FTA 311). Furthermore, Hemingway considered titling his novel either World Enough and Time or In Praise of His Mistress (Reynolds 297). These various allusions are generally interpreted as a foreshadowing of Catherine's death, which of course they are. Leo Gurko, for example, observes, "The lovers are acutely conscious of time passing and wish to make the most of what they have" (109). But at the same time, Marvell's words have an even more literal significance. When the novel opens, Catherine has already committed the "crime" the poem's speaker describes: she refused to marry her fiance, refused to give herself to him sexually, until it was too late, and he was dead (FTA 19). She perhaps a little naively assumed that they had "world enough and time," and because of the war, they did not. Her coyness with her fiance became a "crime" - in her eyes, at least - when he was killed. It is her perfectly understandable but grievous error which haunts Catherine when the novel begins: "He could have had anything he wanted if I would have known. I would have married him or anything. I know all about it now. But then he wanted to go to war and I didn't know" (FTA 19).

Catherine is grief-stricken and traumatized by her loss, and it is her grief which launches the love story, as another of Hemingway's allusions suggests. One of the titles in Hemingway's list of possible titles for the novel was Disorder and Early Sorrow the title of a short story by Thomas Mann (Reynolds 296). In that story, a little girl cries inconsolably because she has had to go upstairs to bed and leave a than she has become attached to at her parents' party; she weeps hysterically until he comes up to her room to comfort her. Catherine, like the child in Mann's story, has also lost a man she loved, and she, too, mourns her loss and longs inconsolably for his return.(7)

As Lockridge concludes, in his penultimate paragraph: "It is Catherine's effort to resurrect her lost love ... that is the whole novel's primary mover" (177). This admittedly unusual reading establishes a profound thematic parallel with Wuthering Heights, in which it is Heathcliff's effort to resurrect a lost love that is the whole novel's primary mover. The correspondences between these two novels are not between characters, but between emotions and themes. I am not arguing that Frederic is Heathcliff or that Catherine is Heathcliff; I am arguing that the lovers in Hemingway's novel experience the same passion and grief as do those in Bronte's and that readers can better understand A Farewell to Arms if they recognize that parallel.

The most obvious and most superficial similarity between the novels lies in the names: both heroines are called Catherine, and both give birth to a child named Catherine. Catherine Barkley's child is only given that name in utero (FTA 157, 293, 294, 304, 306), of course, and eventually turns out to be a stillborn son; nonetheless, Hemingway has perhaps acknowledged a debt rather pointedly here. When Frederic Henry first meets Catherine Barkley, she carries "a thin rattan stick like a toy riding crop, bound in leather" (FTA 18) - an article reminiscent of the whip that Catherine Earnshaw asks her father to bring her in her first (non-ghostly) appearance in Wuthering Heights (38).(8) Both Catherines are Englishwomen, and both are said to have "beautiful hair" (Bronte 50; FTA 19, 114). Catherine Barkley, in telling Frederic Henry of her first love, says, "We grew up together" (FTA 19) - not unlike Catherine Earnshaw and her first love. Just as Heathcliff returns to Catherine at dusk (Bronte 82), Catherine envisions her first lover's return one evening, when she tells Frederic to say, "I've come back to Catherine in the night" (FTA 28, 30).

Catherine Earnshaw makes Heathcliff promise not to shoot any more lapwings (Bronte 105 ); Catherine Barkley asks Frederic, "You don't shoot larks, do you, darling, in America?" (FTA 149). Frederic says to a dream-vision of Catherine, "You wouldn't go away in the night, would you?" (FTA 197); both Catherines do precisely that, dying at night and leaving their lovers alone (FTA 331-32, Bronte 137).

In both works, too, rain functions as a poignant and pointed symbol of separation and death. A thunderstorm marks Heathcliff's departure (Bronte 76), and he dies sitting before a window, letting the rain drive in upon him (Bronte 264). In A Farewell to Arms, Catherine Barkley expresses her apparently irrational but ultimately prescient fear of the rain (FTA 126). Lieutenant Henry leaves her on a rainy night to return to active duty (FTA 158), and she dies on a rainy night (FTA 332).

More fundamentally, each of these women experiences an intensely passionate love affair (or, in Catherine Barkley's case, at least pretends to) with a more or less nameless man: Catherine Barkley never refers to her fiance by name at all; she instead refers to him as "a very nice boy," "he," and eventually just "someone" (FTA 18, 20, 115). Frederic Henry remains nameless through much of the first half of the novel, and Catherine invariably calls him "darling" (Lockridge 171). Heathcliff is given someone else's name, that of a son who had died, and "it has served him ever since, both for Christian and surname" (Bronte 39); Nelly later calls him a "nameless man" (Bronte 88).

None of these characters subscribes to conventional religious beliefs, although both Catherines mention the possibility of a ghostly existence after death. "I'll not lie there by myself; they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me, but I won't rest till you are with me. I never will!" Catherine Earnshaw tells Heathcliff in her delirious ravings (Bronte 108). Catherine Barkley, as usual, is more circumspect: "I'll come stay with you nights," she quietly warns Frederic (FTA 331). Both women experience what Catherine Earnshaw calls "temporary derangement" (Bronte 107): both die young, in childbirth, after losing consciousness (Bronte 137, 139; FTA 331). Finally, both are grievously misunderstood and misrepresented by those who surround them and by the narrators of their stories in particular.

The declarations of love that Catherine and Heathcliff express in Wuthering Heights are terrifying in their intensity: "Nelly, I am Heathcliff - he's always, always in my mind - not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself - but as my own being..." (Bronte 74). Catherine had earlier told Nelly, "... he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same..." (Bronte 72); years later, during her last hours of madness, she tells Nelly again, "he's in my soul" (Bronte 134). Heathcliff experiences the same passion: "Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life!" he cries (Bronte 132); the two are clearly, for him, indistinguishable. When he has her body exhumed, Heathcliff bribes the sexton to open the sides of his coffin and hers, after he dies, so that "by the time Linton gets to us, he'll not know which is which!" (Bronte 228-29). He speaks longingly "of dissolving with her, and being more happy still" (Bronte 229).

Catherine Barkley's expressions (whether genuine or feigned) sound suspiciously similar: "There isn't any me any more. Just what you want," she tells Frederic Henry (FTA 106). Later, she elaborates further: "There isn't any me. I'm you. Don't make up a separate me" (FTA 115). "We really are the same one," she insists (FTA 139). When she learns that Frederic has had gonorrhea, she says, "I wish I'd had it to be like you"; shortly thereafter, she asks him to let his hair grow:

"...Then we'd both be alike. Oh, darling, I want you so much I want to be you too."

"You are. We're the same one." (FTA 229)

A moment later she adds, "I want us to be all mixed up" (FTA 229).

This association of love with life, and the consequent indissolubility and self-sufficiency of the relationship, crops up in both novels. Catherine Earnshaw expresses this concept eloquently: "If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and, if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger. I should not seem a part of it" (Bronte 74). Nelly Dean relates of Heathcliff and Catherine that, as children, "it was one of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day" (Bronte 46); clearly, they need no one else. Even in her final hours, Catherine tells Heathcliff, "I only wish us never to be parted" (Bronte 133).

The lovers of A Farewell to Arms echo these sentiments. "Now if you aren't with me I haven't a thing in the world," Frederic tells Catherine, later adding, "I'm just so in love with you that there isn't anything else" (FTA 257). Catherine says, later in the novel, "I don't live at all when I'm not with you," to which Frederic in turn responds, "I'm no good when you're not there. I haven't any life at all anymore" (FTA 300). They repeatedly rejoice that they don't see (and don't need to see) other people (FTA 132, 297, 303); Frederic asserts, "... we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together" (FTA 249) and "We always feel good when we're together" (FTA 150). Catherine responds, "We always will be together" (FTA 150), though she knows when she says it that it isn't true, at least not in a literal, physical sense.

Both of these doomed couples recognize that they can themselves destroy the relationship. As Catherine Barkley tells Frederic, "there's only us two and in the world there's all the rest of them. If anything comes between us we're gone and then they have us" (FTA 139). She tells him, too, that they "mustn't misunderstand on purpose" as other people do: "They love each other and they misunderstand on purpose and they fight and then suddenly they aren't the same one" (FTA 139). She could be describing the parallel relationship in Wuthering Heights; as Heathcliff tells Catherine, "Because misery, and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart - you have broken it - and in breaking it, you have broken mine" (Bronte 135). Clearly, they embody each other's destruction; Heathcliff calls Catherine both his murderer and her own (Bronte 135). Frederic and Catherine Barkley repeat the idea, but lightly:

"Hell," I said, "I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?"

"Yes. I want to ruin you."

"Good," I said, "that's what I want, too." (FTA 305)

The novel ends with Catherine's death in childbirth and (at least implicitly) Frederic's devastating grief; certainly their words here hold more truth than they know. Catherine's friend, the pragmatic hospital nurse nicknamed Fergy, offers the most accurate assessment of the relationships in these novels: "You'll die then. Fight or die. That's what people do. They don't marry" (FTA 108).(9)

These mutual destructions become even more painful given the characters' complete lack of faith in conventional religion. Catherine Earnshaw doesn't want to go to heaven if it means separation from Heathcliff (Bronte 72). She tells Heathcliff, "I shall not be at peace" (Bronte 133), and Lockwood's encounter with her early in the novel certainly bears out this statement. Nelly describes Heathcliff as "unchristian" and pleads unsuccessfully to be allowed to send for a minister to prepare him for death; he, too, rejects heaven, preferring reunion with his lost love (Bronte 262-63).

Such rejections become even more explicit in A Farewell to Arms. In telling Frederic of her lost love, Catherine specifically and emphatically denies the possibility of immortality:

"... and then of course he was killed and that was the end of it."

"I don't know."

"Oh, yes," she said. "That's the end of it." (FTA 19)

She tells the hospital clerk she has no religion (FTA 313), and Frederic later tells himself the same thing (FTA 327). Catherine explains to Frederic, "... I haven't any religion," adding later, "You're my religion" (FTA 116). Similarly, when Frederic asks her, on her deathbed, if she wants him "to get a priest or anyone" to come and see her, she responds, "Just you" (FTA 330). With his references to "Your lovely cool goddess." English goddess" that Frederic Henry can only "worship," Rinaldi suggests that Frederic experiences a corresponding displacement of devotion from a religious deity to a human one (FTA 66); Rinaldi later calls the relationship a "sacred subject" (FTA 169). Love is a religious feeling, according to the oracular Count Greffi (FTA 263); the statement illuminates both novels.

The intensity of such loves, coupled with the lack of faith in a conventional afterlife, virtually guarantees that any separation, let alone death, will create grief so intense that it threatens sanity. When Heathcliff runs away, Catherine Earnshaw comes down with a dangerous fever and the doctor worries that in her delirium she may become suicidal - partly as a result of her exposure to the rain, and partly, surely, as a result of her lover's departure (Bronte 77-78). Tormented by her love for Heathcliff, she later becomes literally mad, hallucinating and regressing to childlike behavior (Bronte 106-07).

Heathcliff, confronted with news of Catherine's death, refuses this abandonment: "You said I killed you - haunt me, then! ... Be with me always, take any form - drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! ... I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!" (Bronte 139). As he later admits, "you know, I was wild after she died" (Bronte 229). He tells Nelly, "... it seemed that on going out, I should meet her; when I walked on the moors I should meet her coming in. When I went from home, I hastened to return; she must be somewhere at the Heights, I was certain!" (Bronte 230). He is unable to escape her presence:

"I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped on the flags! In every cloud, in every tree - filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day, I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men and women - my own features - mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!" (Bronte 255)

As the prosaic Nelly observes, "He might have had a monomania on the subject of his departed idol; but on every other point his wits were as sound as mine" (Bronte 256).

Nelly Dean's diagnosis of Heathcliff's condition is a strikingly apt one for Catherine Barkley's condition as well, given Lockridge's explication. As Catherine herself acknowledges, "I was a little crazy. But I wasn't crazy in any complicated manner" (FTA 154). Perhaps, like Heathcliff, she sees her dead lover in all that surrounds her; certainly she sees him in the "most ordinary" face of the young, unformed Frederic Henry. Driven by devastating, even pathological grief, Heathcliff tries brutally to work his will on the descendants of three families; Catherine Barkley limits herself to one impressionable American soldier who "seems, at best, an amiable, presentable-looking blank" (Lockridge 173). Catherine Barkley seems to be a somewhat tougher Catherine Earnshaw whose Heathcliff has predeceased her.

Each woman betrays her first love in a spectacular way while simultaneously maintaining her own faithfulness. Nelly Dean reports of Catherine Earnshaw: "She had a wondrous constancy to old attachments" (Bronte 61). Catherine in fact proposes to support Heathcliff by means of her marriage to another: "He'll be as much to me as he has been all his lifetime," she insists (Bronte 73). Heathcliff, infuriated by news of her peaceful death, cries, "Why, she's a liar to the end!" (Bronte 139)., Again, the words could conceivably be applied to Catherine Barkley as well - although Sandra Whipple Spanier contends, and I agree, that during the course of the story, "both [Catherine] and Frederic ... grow into their parts until they're no longer acting" ("Catherine" 135).(10) As Catherine in turn fervently protests to Frederic, "I'm not unfaithful, darling. I've plenty of faults but I'm very faithful. You'll be sick of me I'll be so faithful" (FTA 116). Lockridge neatly tempers Catherine's assertions, paraphrasing Ernest Downson's "Cynara" to describe Catherine Barkley as "faithful in her fashion" (175).

Both women, then, construct models of constancy that differ markedly from conventional ideals, and both must maintain a pretense, wear a mask, in order to uphold their models of constancy. The mask drops occasionally for each, however. During Catherine's final illness, Nelly notes, "The flash of her eyes had been succeeded by a dreamy and melancholy softness; they no longer gave the impression of looking at the objects around her; they appeared always to gaze beyond, and far beyond - you would have said out of this world" (Bronte 131). Long before her madness began to manifest itself in this "vague, distant look" (Bronte 131), however, "Catherine had seasons of gloom and silence, now and then" (Bronte 81).

Catherine Barkley has similar moments of retreat into the self - or perhaps, given Nelly Dean's interpretation, of retreat into a world beyond - as when Frederic responds less than ideally to the news of her pregnancy: "She went away a long way without stirring or removing her hand" (FTA 139). Similarly, on one of their first encounters, after she stops playing her "rotten game" of pretend, "She came back from wherever she had been" (FTA 31).

Both women are, moreover, lamentably misread and misunderstood by those who surround them. Their stories are told only after they die, and even then by someone who in retrospect still fails to realize the story's true import. Nelly Dean clearly does not understand Catherine Earnshaw's motives and dismisses her passionate declarations of love as "nonsense" (Bronte 74). Given Lockridge's reading, Frederic Henry is equally unacquainted with Catherine Barkley's motives and dismisses her emotional declarations of terror as "nonsense" (FTA 126). The uncomprehending narrators who describe these women emphasize their enigmatic, perplexing, even perverse qualities, and utterly fail to recognize, let alone empathize with, the terrible grief occasioned by the loss of an all-encompassing love.(11)

Hemingway's apparent borrowings from Wuthering Heights suggest that the novel's themes of separation, loss of love, and the terrible egoism of the bereaved may be equally important in A Farewell to Arms. Such a supposition tends to confirm Lockridge's argument, since both novels then depict a grieving individual who in anguish tries to re-enact the past. What is Heathcliff doing, after all, when he compels Catherine Linton and Linton Heathcliff to marry, but re-enacting his Catherine's marriage to Edgar Linton? And what is he doing by ruining Hareton, but trying to recreate Hindley's attempted destruction of Heathcliff himself? Catherine Barkley's parallel act seems rather meager, in comparison, but invites the reader's sympathy rather more.

William A. Madden has argued that Heathcliff, in his obsession with recreating the past, is responding to what Freud termed a repetition compulsion: "The psyche, disturbed by a shock which it cannot absorb and surmount, is unable to achieve psychic wholeness until the subject relives and retrospectively binds the excess of emotion that is the cause of his illness" (Madden 148-49; see also Bercovitch). Hemingway's allusions to Wuthering Heights suggest that Catherine, too, has sustained such a psychic wound,(12) and that she is trying to relive her trauma in order "to achieve psychic wholeness." Thus, his use of allusion helps to confirm the positive readings of Catherine's character that Joyce Wexler and Sandra Whipple Spanier present. Catherine could have wrought on others the pain she herself had suffered; she could have become another Heathcliff, perpetuating her loss by inflicting it upon those around her. Instead, she chose, while reliving her trauma, to relive it constructively, rather than destructively: to try to give Frederic what she had denied her fiance, rather than to try to inflict on him the pain that she had suffered.(13)

Arguing that Catherine's choice of self-sacrifice in an all-encompassing love is a positive, healthy choice may initially seem sexist, but in The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes, who is traumatized by his combat experience and his injury, does precisely the same thing, albeit platonically because of his presumed impotence. Jake Barnes is as much a Romantic hero as Catherine, and Frederic Henry's friend the priest espouses a similar philosophy when he tells Frederic, "When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve" (FTA 72). Catherine merely puts this belief into practice (Spanier, "Catherine" 140).

Catherine's choice of love may have to do with the options available to her, as well. She can hardly throw herself into her work (as Rinaldi does) when patients are scarce, and the fishing that works for Nick Adams in "Big Two-Hearted River" seems unlikely to appeal to a woman of Catherine's era. According to Sandra Whipple Spanier:

[G]iven the treacherousness of Hemingway's world, the consequences of structuring one's existence within the confines of a love relationship seem hardly less "healthy" than living by the rituals that other code heroes have chosen in order to structure their lives - the bullfight, the prizefight, the hunt. ("Catherine" 137)

But what, finally, does all this have to do with Frederic, who is after all the narrator of A Farewell to Arms? What about his passion and grief? When the novel ends, he is as bereaved as Catherine was at the novel's beginning - more so, since he has lost a child as well as a lover. Frederic, I would argue, has learned from Catherine how to cope with trauma with courage and grace. Spanier has proposed a reading of A Farewell to Arms that I want to endorse and extend. She argues that Catherine is the "code hero" of A Farewell to Arms:

As much a victim of the war as her boy who was killed, her ideals shattered and her psyche scarred in confrontation with a chaotic and hostile universe, Catherine refuses to be helpless. She pulls herself together with dignity and grace, defines the limits of her own existence, and scrupulously acts her part, preferring romance to the theater of the absurd. By imposing an order on experience, she gains a limited autonomy, as much control over her own destiny as a human being in Hemingway's world can hope to have. From her example, Frederic Henry learns how to live in it too. ("Catherine" 147-48)

Acting as her own therapist, Catherine overcomes her pain through her role-playing with Frederic Henry. Through transference, she is able to master her trauma, much as she might have through formal psychoanalysis.

Frederic has had an advantage in that, unlike Catherine, who had only her own resources to fall back on, he has had her as his "mentor in matters of psychological survival" (Spanier, "Catherine" 139). She recognizes the danger that Frederic might try to overcome his trauma by reliving it, as she did, and even on her deathbed she tries to warn him against such a psychologically precarious solution, saying, "You won't do our things with another girl, or say the same things, will you?" (FTA 331). Frederic immediately responds, "Never" (FTA 331). He will have no need to re-enact their relationship the way she re-enacted her relationship with her fiance with him, as the existence of A Farewell to Arms makes clear.

To understand why, it is necessary for a moment to consider the psychological role that narrative serves. Peter Brooks, in Reading for the Plot, proposes a model of narrative that has its basis in psychoanalysis; he suggests that narrative is a way of first provoking and then binding emotional energies, much as the repetition compulsion does: "Analysis works toward the more precise and orderly recollection of the past, no longer compulsively repeated, insistently reproduced in the present, but ordered as a retrospective narrative" (227). Frederic's narrative, then, is a way of working through his grief in an even healthier way than Catherine was able to manage. Frederic has mastered his trauma by making of it an ordered narrative, much as Nick Adams claims to have done in "Fathers and Sons": "If he wrote it he could get rid of it. He had gotten rid of many things by writing them" (491). The novel itself becomes a kind of testament to Frederic's recovery.

It is interesting to note here how first Catherine's and then Frederic's willed triumphs over trauma parallel their creator's. In his highly influential early study of Hemingway, Philip Young argued that the author had sustained psychic wounds of his own and dealt with them by "returning compulsively to the scenes of his injuries" again and again in his writings (166). Young concludes, "It is not the trauma but the use to which he put it that counts; he harnessed it, and transformed it to art" (171). Like Catherine, Hemingway chose to become his own therapist.(14) Unlike Heathcliff, who seems to be trapped forever in a vicious cycle of unending pain, both Hemingway's characters and Hemingway himself overcame their grief through the healing "make-believe" of fiction. A Farewell to Arms testifies to the way in which the art of literature can give meaning to human suffering.


1. The entire quotation lists works by Leo Tolstoy, W.H. Hudson, Thomas Mann, Emily Bronte, Gustave Flaubert, Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoevsky, George Moore, Mark Twain, Sherwood Anderson, Alexandre Dumas, Guy de Maupassant, Frederic Stendhal, James Joyce, and W.B. Yeats.

See Bordinat for a comparison of Tolstoy and Hemingway. See McIlvaine for a discussion of W.H. Hudson and Hemingway. For Thomas Mann's influence on Hemingway, see Adair; see also the less convincing case presented by Mertens. For Flaubert's influence on Hemingway, see Engelberg. See Chapple, Coltrane, and Wilkinson for Turgenev's influence on Hemingway. See Chapter 6 in Young (211-41, but especially pages 230-41) for the influence of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on Hemingway's writing, especially his Nick Adams stories. See also Wyatt and Baker.

Hemingway himself acknowledged his debts to Turgenev and Anderson in "Fathers and Sons" and Torrents of Spring, respectively; the latter, a parody of Anderson's Dark Laughter, is perhaps a backhanded compliment, but it does indicate Hemingway's interest in Anderson's work. For discussions of Anderson's influence on Hemingway, see Flanagan, Somers, and Schorer. For Stendhal's influence on A Farewell to Arms, see Lawson, Stephens, and Reynolds (134, 154-58). For a brief discussion of the influence of de Maupassant's "La Maison Tellier" on "The Light of the World," see Martine; Jobst and Williamson explore the subject further. For Joyce's influence on Hemingway, see Gajdusek and O'Connor (especially 156-69).

2. Mark Spilka is the only critic to have considered Wuthering Heights as an influence on Hemingway's work (although Joseph M. Flora has noted the similarity briefly [271]). I agree fully with Spilka's argument that Emily Bronte's vision of androgyny must have held both appeal and terror for Hemingway, and I see my argument as complementing rather than contradicting Spilka's, especially since he focuses more closely on the relationship between Wuthering Heights and Hemingway's posthumously published short story, "The Last Good Country." For Spilka's brief discussion of Bronte's influence on A Farewell to Arms, see Chapter 5 of Hemingway's Quarrel with Androgyny, especially pages 139, 211, and 215-22, as well as 333.

3. Reynolds maintains that "Hemingway's reading is as important to his art as that of Coleridge" (283). Young, too, insists on the importance of Hemingway's reading (160-61).

4. Bernard Oldsey contends that what Hemingway specifically learned from Eliot was how to use allusion "not simply as decoration, but as a means of achieving resonance, depth, layers of sometimes contradictory meaning" (26). Hemingway seems, in fact, to have taken some of his allusions from Eliot rather than from a primary source, perhaps including allusions to Marlowe (Bartlett, Oldsey 19, Lynn 246) and Marvell (Gerstenberger).

5. See Gerstenberger and Adams for further discussion of Hemingway's debt to Eliot. On Peele's poem, see Keeler, Mazzaro, Anderson and Fleming. Stoneback discusses Shakespeare's sonnet 146; Reynolds discusses Biblical allusions (43-44). Anderson (437), Davison, Dekker and Harris (313), and Oldsey (23-24 and 32-33) all discuss "Western Wind." Anderson notes allusions to Tennyson (440) and "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" (438). On Marlowe's influence, see Young (59), Oldsey (25-26), and Bartlett. Wilson proposes Kipling as an influence (239n1). The allusion to Othello is direct (FTA 257). Dekker and Harris analyze the folkloric motifs in the novel. For other possible allusions in A Farewell to Arms, see Davis and McIlvaine ("Literary").

6. Although unusual, Lockridge's reading is not unique. His essay develops more fully a thesis posited in John Stubbs' "Love and Role Playing in A Farewell to Arms." Other critics who subscribe to this view include Roger Whitlow (20), George Dekker and Joseph Harris (311-12), Robert W. Lewis (75), Sandra Whipple Spanier (see especially "Hemingway's" 86 and "Catherine" 134-35), and Wexler (see especially 114-18 and 122).

7. Two other titles from the list published in Reynolds' book (295-97) would seem to confirm this interpretation. Reynolds suggests that the title Sorrow for Pleasure may have been taken from the anonymous poem "Icarus": "Blinded they into folly run and grief for pleasure take" (Reynolds 296). That is, of course, precisely what I am arguing that Frederic Henry does: mistake Catherine's grief for pleasure. Another title, If You Must Love, Reynolds identifies as an allusion to one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese which begins: "If thou must love me, let it be for naught/Except for love's sake only" (Reynolds 297). Catherine "loves" Frederic - but not, certainly, for love's sake only, at least not at the beginning of their relationship.

8. It is interesting to note, here, that when Catherine Earnshaw asks for a whip, her father brings home Heathcliff instead, almost as if he were a substitute for what she requested (Gilbert and Gubar 264); for Catherine Barkley, the substitution is reversed, and the whip takes the place of her lover.

9. Hemingway appears to have subscribed to that view himself, as he echoed it in Death in the Afternoon:

Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death.... Especially do all stories of monogamy end in death, and your man who is monogamous while he often lives most happily, dies in the most lonely fashion. There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it. (122)

10. Wexler shares this view: "... [T]he love she has willed becomes authentic" (118). Lockridge is less sanguine about the transformative powers of role-playing: "... [S]he never abandons the old love for the new, is never 'unfaithful'" (177).

11. Frederic learns to love Catherine during the course of their time together, but he does not genuinely understand and appreciate her until after she dies; it is only through the process of writing this narrative that he comes to understand her motives and appreciate what she, by her example, has taught him.

12. It is interesting to note that in his work outlining the nature of the "traumatic neurosis" which gives rise to the repetition compulsion, Freud wrote, in 1919, that "[t]he terrible war which has just ended gave rise to a great number of illnesses of this kind" (18: 12).

13. It is only in the second generation that the characters of Wuthering Heights are able to respond constructively:

... [T]he double drama of Wuthering Heights has provided the powerful experience of living twice through the same potentially traumatic circumstances, once ending in tragedy, but the second time with the energy bound and channeled into human wholeness and health through the transforming power of a love that both understands and forgives. (Madden 154)

14. Lockridge describes Catherine's behavior as "a serious and therapeutic game of 'pretend'" (177), and Wexler observes of Catherine, "She devises a kind of therapy for herself by pretending to love Frederic in place of her fiance" (114). Whitlow suggests that Catherine is "using Frederic as an unwitting therapist" (20). Similarly, Young writes that the Hemingway hero was determined to be his own therapist (202), and John Portz has suggested that "... writing fiction was one of Hemingway's methods for controlling his painful memories and fears" (40). See Rose for a practicing psychiatrist's argument that art can act as therapy: "Both creative and clinical process follow the fundamental psychic principle of attempting to master passively experienced trauma by active repetition ..." (44). Rose's description of the artist echoes Young's description of Hemingway: "Sensitized as a child, he learns to use his talent to create imagery to defend against loss" (Rose 127).


Adair, William. "For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Magic Mountain: Hemingway's Debt to Thomas Mann." Twentieth-Century Literature 35 (1989): 429-44.

Adams, Richard. "Sunrise out of the Waste Land." Tulane Studies in English 9 (1959): 119-31.

Anderson, Charles R. "Hemingway's Other Style." Modern Language Notes 76 (1961): 434-42.

Baker, Carlos. "Two Rivers: Mark Twain and Hemingway." Mark Twain Journal 11.4 (Summer 1962): 2.

Bartlett, Phyllis. "Other Countries, Other Wenches." Modern Fiction Studies 3 (1957-58): 345-59.

Bercovitch, Sacvan. "Literature and the Repetition Compulsion." College English 29 (1968): 607-15.

Bordinat, Philip. "Anatomy of Fear in Tolstoy and Hemingway." Lost Generation Journal 3.2 (Spring-Summer 1975): 15-17

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 1847. Ed. William M. Sale, Jr. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1963.

Brooks, Peter. Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative. New York: Knopf, 1984.

Chapple, Richard. "Ivan Turgenev, Sherwood Anderson, and Ernest Hemingway: The Torrents of Spring All." New Comparison: A Journal of Comparative and General Literary Studies 5 (1988): 136-49.

Coltrane, Robert. "Hemingway and Turgenev: The Torrents of Spring." Hemingway's Neglected Short Fiction: New Perspectives. Ed. Susan F. Beegel. 1989. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1992. 149-61.

Davis, Judy W. "Three Novels Mentioned in A Farewell to Arms." Notes on Contemporary Literature 19 (1989): 4-5.

Davison, Richard Allan. "Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms." Explicator 29 (Feb. 1971): no. 46.

Dekker, George, and Joseph Harris. "Supernaturalism and the Vernacular Style in A Farewell to Arms." PMLA 34 (March 1979): 311-18.

Engelberg, Edward. "Hemingway's 'True Penelope': Flaubert's L'Education Sentimentale and A Farewell to Arms." Comparative Literature Studies 16 (1979): 189-206.

Flanagan, John T. "Hemingway's Debt to Sherwood Anderson." Journal of English and Germanic Philology 54 (1955): 507-20.

Fleming, Robert E. "Hemingway and Peele: Chapter 1 of A Farewell to Arms." Studies in American Fiction 11 (1983): 95-100.

Flora, Joseph M. Hemingway's Nick Adams. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State U P, 1982.

Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. 24 vols. Ed. James Strachey. London: Hogarth, 1955.

Gajdusek, Robert E. "Dubliners in Michigan: Joyce's Presence in Hemingway's In Our Time." Hemingway Review 2 (1982): 48-61.

Gerstenberger, Donna. "The Waste Land in A Farewell to Arms." Modern Language Notes 76 (1961): 24-25.

Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale U P, 1979.

Gurko, Leo. Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism. New York: Crowell, 1968.

Hemingway, Ernest. Death in the Afternoon. New York: Scribner's, 1932.

-----. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner's, 1929.

-----. "The Last Good Country." The Nick Adams Stories. New York: Scribner's, 1972. 70-132.

-----. "Remembering Shooting-Flying: A Key West Letter." Esquire 3 (February 1935): 21. Rpt. in Byline: Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades. Ed. William White. New York: Scribner's, 1967. 186-91.

-----. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Scribner's, 1938. 209-32.

Jobst, Jack W. and W.J. Williamson. "Hemingway and Maupassant: More Light on 'The Light of the World.'" Hemingway Review 13.2 (Spring 1994): 52-61.

Keeler, Clinton. "A Farewell to Arms: Hemingway and Peele." Modern Language Notes 76 (1961): 622-25.

Lawson, Carolina Donadio. "Hemingway, Stendhal and Wary Hemingway Review 6 (1981): 28-33.

Lewis, Robert W. A Farewell to Arms: The War of the Words. New York: Twayne, 1992.

Lewis, Wyndham. "The Dumb Ox." Men without Art. 1934. New York: Russell & Russell, 1964. 17-41.

Lockridge, Ernest. "Faithful in Her Fashion: Catherine Barkley, the Invisible Hemingway Heroine." Journal of Narrative Technique 18 (1988): 170-78.

Lynn, Kenneth S. Hemingway. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Madden, William A. "Wuthering Heights: The Binding of Passion." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 27 (September 1972): 127-54.

Mann, Thomas. "Disorder and Early Sorrow." Stories of Three Decades. Trans. H.T. Lowe-Porter. New York: Knopf, 1979. 500-28.

Martine, James J. "A Little Light on Hemingway's 'The Light of the World.'" Studies in Short Fiction 7 (1970): 465-67.

Mazzaro, Jerome L. "George Peele and A Farewell to Arms: A Thematic Tie?" Modern Language Notes 75 (1960): 118-19.

McIlvaine, Robert M. "A Literary Source for the Caesarean Section in A Farewell to Arms." American Literature 43 (1971): 444-47.

-----. "Robert Cohn and the Purple Land." Notes on Modern American Literature 5.2 (Spring 1981): Item 8.

Mertens, Gerald M. "Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea and Mann's The Black Swan." Literature and Psychology 6 (1956): 96-99.

O'Connor, Frank. The Lonely Voice. Cleveland: World, 1963.

Oldsey, Bernard. Hemingway's Hidden Craft: The Writing of A Farewell to Arms. University Park: Pennsylvania State U P, 1979.

Portz, John. "Allusion and Structure in Hemingway's 'A Natural History of the Dead.'" Tennessee Studies in Literature 10 (1965): 27-41.

Reynolds, Michael S. Hemingway's First War: The Making of A Farewell to Arms. Princeton: Princeton U P, 1976.

Rose, Gilbert J. Trauma and Mastery in Life and Art. New Haven:Yale U P, 1987.

Ross, Lillian. "How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen?" New Yorker 13 May 1950: 36-62. Rpt. in Hemingway: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Robert P. Weeks. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1962. 17-39.

Schorer, Mark. "Some Relationships: Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway." The World We Imagine: Selected Essays by Mark Schorer. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1968. 299-382.

Somers, Paul, Jr. "The Mark of Sherwood Anderson on Hemingway: A Look at the Texts." South Atlantic Quarterly 71 (1974): 487-503.

Spanier, Sandra Whipple. "Catherine Barkley and the Hemingway Code: Ritual and Survival in A Farewell to Arms." Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea, 1987. 131-48.

-----. "Hemingway's Unknown Soldier: Catherine Barkley, the Critics, and the Great War." New Essays on A Farewell to Arms. Ed. Scott Donaldson. Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1990. 75-108.

Spilka, Mark. Hemingway's Quarrel with Androgyny. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1990.

-----. "Original Sin in 'The Last Good Country': or, The Return of Catherine Barkley." The Modernists: Studies in a Literary Phenomenon. Ed. Lawrence B. Gamache and Ian S. MacNiven. Rutherford, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson U P, 1987. 210-33.

Stephens, Robert O. "Hemingway and Stendhal: The Matrix of A Farewell to Arms." PMLA 88 (1973): 271-80.

Stoneback, H.R. "'Lovers' Sonnets Turn'd to Holy Psalms': The Soul's Song of Providence, the Scandal of Suffering, and Love in A Farewell to Arms." Hemingway Review 9.1 (Fall 1989): 33-76.

Stubbs, John. "Love and Role Playing in A Farewell to Arms." Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual 1973. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli and C.E. Frazer Clark, Jr. Washington, D.C.: Microcard Editions Books, 1974. 271-84.

Wexler, Joyce. "E.R.A. for Hemingway: A Feminist Defense of A Farewell to Arms." Georgia Review 35 (1981): 111-23.

Whitlow, Roger. Cassandra's Daughters: The Women in Hemingway. Westport, CT: Greenwood P, 1984.

Wilkinson, Myer. Hemingway and Turgenev: The Nature of Literary Influence. Ann Arbor: UMI Research P, 1986.

Wilson, Edmund. "Hemingway: Gauge of Morale." The Wound and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1941. 214-42.

Wyatt, Bryant N. "Huckleberry Finn and the Art of Ernest Hemingway." Mark Twain Journal 13.4 (Summer 1967): 1-8.

Young, Philip. Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration. University Park: Pennsylvania State U P, 1966.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Ernest Hemingway Foundation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Tyler, Lisa
Publication:The Hemingway Review
Date:Mar 22, 1995
Previous Article:Alcoholism in Ernest Hemingway's 'The Sun Also Rises': a wine and roses perspective on the lost generation.
Next Article:'Come back to the beach ag'in, David honey!': Hemingway's fetishization of race in 'The Garden of Eden' manuscripts.

Related Articles
Ferguson and lesbian love: unspoken subplots in 'A Farewell to Arms.'
Hemingway's Chair.
A thunderous reception: Broadway, Hollywood, and 'A Farewell to Arms.'
Bidding goodbye to the plumed troop and the big wars: the presence of 'Othello' in 'A Farewell to Arms.'
Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms: A Reference Guide.
Save America's Treasures: preservation update.
Growing Up in Mississippi.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |