A Farewell to Arms

Perceptions of Henry as an American Expatriate in Italy

Ernest Hemingway’s celebrated novel, A Farewell to Arms, discusses the hierarchy of nationality, class, and power during wartime. Frederic Henry finds himself an American serving in the Italian army as an ambulance driver. The United States somehow becomes glorified in the eyes of the Italian population, and a sense of eminence is thrust upon Henry. He never fully integrates into the Italian army, nor does he wish to do so. Henry is decidedly separated, but more importantly, his nationality establishes for him a higher status. Henry’s character is influenced by his American citizenship. This progression is defined by the economic gap as well as his interactions with his Italian comrades and regular citizens.

Henry is modest, almost to the point of shyness. He refuses to be recognized for heroism after an explosion in Chapter Nine that takes the lives of three men. He is wounded as well, but “would rather wait,” for medical attention, as “there are much worse wounded” than he. An English doctor scoffs, “Don’t be a bloody hero,” and falsely informs the Italian hands that “he is the legitimate son of President Wilson (58).” This elevated status brings Henry to the top of the list for treatment. Later, Henry’s friend Rinaldi...

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