In A Farewell to Arms, does Lt. Henry really love Catherine?

Expert Answers
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the beginning, he does not. He sees her only as a sex object and their relationship as game playing. Frederick says, "I knew I did not love Catherine Barkley nor had any idea of loving her. This was a game, like bridge, in which you said things instead of playing cards."

This attitude changes drastically after Frederick is wounded and reunited with Catherine away from the war. Lonely, hurt, and afraid, he falls deeply in love with her. Their relationship develops throughout the novel, becoming even more tender after Catherine becomes pregnant. Their rowing across a lake in the rain when Frederick deserts is perhaps the most romantic passage in Hemingway's work.

Frederick's love for Catherine cannot be doubted as she dies after giving birth to their stillborn son. Frederick agonizes. He prays. He stays with Catherine until the end. After she dies, he clears her hospital room, turns out the light, and says good-by to her in the darkness. By the end of Hemingway's novel, there is no doubt he loved her profoundly.

Read the study guide:
A Farewell to Arms

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question