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After reading Chapter 16 in A Farewell to Arms, explain how Catherine's character has...

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catlover | Student, College Freshman | Honors

Posted March 15, 2011 at 3:17 AM via web

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After reading Chapter 16 in A Farewell to Arms, explain how Catherine's character has developed through this point.

Please be sure to include which trait dominates your perception of her character.

Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 15, 2011 at 6:35 AM (Answer #1)

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Catherine and Henry of A Farewell to Arms play an elaborate game of seduction, an illusion that sustains them against the reality of war. In Chapter 4 when Henry first attempts to kiss her, Catherine slaps him, but apologizes and makes the point, "And we have gotten away from the war."  As they sit under the trees in the garden, Catherine tells Frederic, "You will be good to me, won't you?...Because we're going to have a strange life."

Now, in Chapter 16 Catherine seems more submissive to Henry as she promises,

"I'll say just what you wish and I'll do what you wish and then you will never want any other girls, will you?....I'll do what you want and say what you want and then I'll be a great success, won't I?"

Perhaps this moment is Catherine's "farewell to arms" as she abandons not only thoughts of the war, but considerations of the male/female roles, becoming for Henry whatever he desires, hoping in this illusionary role in which she has made Henry "all clean inside and out" that she can prevent "the strange life" that she has earlier feared. And yet, although she strives to lose herself in Henry, Catherine still manages some situations.  For example, she refuses to come to Henry after his operation, telling him he will be sick anyway and not want her.

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