Study Guide

A Farewell to Arms Men and Masculinity

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Men and Masculinity

Chapter 10
Lieutenant Rinaldi

"Sometimes I think you and [the priest] are a little that way." (10.43)

Oh, Rinaldi, you just don’t quit. It’s hard to know whether he brings up the possibility of the priest and Frederic being gay because he’s teasing Frederic, or because he’s curious about it, or because he is gay himself.

"Tell me, baby, when you lie here all the time in hot weather don’t you get excited?" (10.35)

Rinaldi’s speech drips with sexuality. We wonder if this wouldn’t sound better in Italian. For Rinaldi, masculinity is all about sexiness, and he can’t seem to turn it off.

Book 2, Chapter 13
Frederic Henry

"[My legs] are full of trench-mortar fragments, old screws and bedsprings and things." (13.62)

Notice how smoothly Frederic brings things around from the battlefield of literal war, to the battlefield of the bedroom. We can pretty well imagine what he means by "old screws" but he makes it clear when he adds "bedsprings" to the mix.

Chapter 16

"You’re such a silly boy." She kissed me. (16.20)

Frederic gets called a boy a lot. Since we don’t know his age, we don’t know if this is a literal reference to his age. Hemingway was only 18 when he worked as an Italian ambulance driver, but we only get small hints about Frederic’s age, some of them contradictory.

Chapter 32

Lying on the floor of the flat-car with the guns beside me under the canvas, I was wet, cold, and very hungry. (32.1)

Frederic perform almost superhuman feats, but when it gets right down to it, he’s willing to admit it that he’s human like everyone else. This comment is a subtle way of reminding us that men have limits too, as the novel shows us in other not so subtle ways.

Chapter 41

"After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain." (41.292)

This is a great example of Hemingway’s theory of omission. How can Frederic express all the pain and turmoil he’s feeling now that he’s lost Catherine and his son? He doesn’t have to. We can feel it all from just these seemingly simple words.

"I tried not to think and to be perfectly calm." (41.241)

Though things are changing as we see that men and women aren’t all that different, shows of emotion are thought to be feminine behavior, while calmness is thought to be masculine. We wonder if this is just Frederic’s personality, or if he’s learned that calm and collected is the way men are supposed to be.

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