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Free Study Guide-A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway-Book Notes
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Frederic Henry

He is a young man who is not a hero in the conventional sense of the term. He places no premium on values such as duty, honor, glory, and courage. There are many men in the world who prefer death to dishonor, but Henry is not one of them. If, in order to save his life, he should face the shame of having deserted the army, he certainly doesn’t mind doing so. He turns his back to the war, mainly because he feels that it did not concern him. Nor does he mind living off of his family, asking for money to provide him and Catherine a way through in Switzerland. He makes a separate peace for himself but is not totally convinced of it; he still feels like a truant schoolboy. During the war, however, he shows that he has the capacity to think on his feet and to make instant decisions.

The priest

He distinguishes between lust and love and between sacred and profane love. He advocates the philosophy that love means lack of selfishness, service, and sacrifice. Though the priest is stationed in Gorizia, he does not let the horrors of the war taint his vision. He is happy in his love for his god and nothing touches him there.


He represents the profane love which is nothing but lust and results in syphilis. He is overworked and though he is an excellent surgeon, he is weighed down by the pressure of working round the clock and throughout the year. He introduces Catherine to Henry and hopes that she will be good to him and for him. It is interesting to note that Henry’s philosophy of life towards the end of the novel is a harmonious mixture of the priest’s and that of Rinaldi’s.

Catherine Barkley

She is hit by the war even before she meets Henry. Her childhood fiancé was blown to pieces and she carried his riding crop as a remembrance. Perhaps that is the reason why she appears overwrought, excitable, and anxiety-ridden when we first meet her. She is, of course, wounded. Unlike her friend Miss Ferguson, she is not overtly religious. For her, LOVE is religion, but its morals are not well defined. She is created by Hemingway as an “ideal woman”: so devoted to her man that she will die in the process of doing anything that he wants.

Miss Helen Ferguson

She is a close friend of Catherine’s. She is shocked by Catherine’s apparent lack of morals but at the same time, is concerned with her safety and well being.

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