The Strengths of the Female Characters in "A Farewell to Arms" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls": Books written by Ernest Hemingway

Essay by KraftDinner1High School, 12th gradeB, June 2007

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Ernest Hemingway wrote two poignant war time love novels, A Farewell to Arms involving Catherine Barkley and Frederic Henry, and For Whom the Bell Tolls featuring Maria and Robert Jordan. Both couples fall in love, yet endure difficult situations such as blowing a bridge, running from calvary, wounded friends, and avoiding war. During this time, Catherine and Maria help transform their partners from sexually selfish males to emotionally healthy human beings. The women go through harsh physical and emotional experiences, such as rape and death, but they still show courage through a male-dominated world. The women show great inner strength, as they prepare those closest to them for their own journey after death. Through it all, the inner strength of the female characters not only influences their own well being during adverse times, but alters the lives of the men they encounter. Maria and Catherine Barkley begin to seduce Robert and Frederic as a healing process from themselves.

Both women know that men of war are easily distracted by the prostitutes near the front lines and have to take caution toward men. Maria from For Whom the Bell Tolls has been trained by Pilar, her mother-like figure, to put pain behind her; to do this she begins a relationship with Robert. She moves quickly beginning a sexual union with him the first night. Throughout three days the relationship develops into an inspiring healing outline. As Cixous points out, "The affirmation of life and love that Jordan makes as he experiences emotional commitment for the first time with Maria appear symptomatic of Hemingway's desire to move beyond a restrictive system of sexuality or gender to one that approaches a Cixousian embrace of otherness and togetherness" (145). Maria begins to repair herself by looking at sexual intercourse as a good not...