A Farewell To Arms Characters
by Ernest Hemingway

The following A Farewell To Arms characters are explained and analyzed here:

Catherine Barkley

Catherine Barkley is an English nurse serving at the Italian front. Due to the untimely death of a fiancé previous to the events of this book, Catherine has already been initiated into Hemingway's philosophy, and exemplifies the traits of the Hemingway code hero throughout the novel. She is characterized primarily by her disregard for social conventions as well as an unfaltering devotion to Henry.

Frederic Henry

Frederic Henry, an American ambulance driver and a lieutenant ("tenente") in the Italian army, is the narrator and protagonist of the novel. The focus of the novel revolves around his love with Catherine Barkley as well as his steady disillusionment with the war. Henry is characterized initially by a sort of detachment from life-though well-disciplined and friendly, he feels as if he has nothing to do with the war. These feelings of detachment are pushed away when Henry falls in love with Catherine and begins to realize the hostile nature of the world. In this way, Henry serves the function of a character who becomes initiated in Hemingway's philosophy of an indifferent universe and man's struggle against it.

Helen Ferguson

Helen is a friend of Catherine, but unlike Catherine does not share her disregard for social conventions. She strongly disapproves of the love affair between Henry and Catherine, but ultimately chooses to help the lovers. In doing so, she demonstrates a higher fidelity to personal values (loyalty, dignity) rather than abstract ones (morality) and is esteemed because of it.


A friend of Henry's, the young priest of the division is characterized by his ability to maintain faith in God alongside a cynicism with regard to the war. The priest often serves as counselor to Henry, explaining to him the difference between love and lust as well as the futility of the war. Despite having faith, the priest is a respectable character in the novel because his belief in God stems from a deliberate choice; it is not used to escape from the world.


Henry's roommate, Rinaldi is a surgeon at the Italian front and often serves as foil to both the priest and Henry. Where the priest is concerned with higher values, Rinaldi seeks immediate pleasures and sensual relationships. Like Henry, though, Rinaldi eventually comes to realize the futility of the war and his own actions (to fix up the wounded only to send them back to the front again). Unlike Henry, he cannot deal with the knowledge, and resorts to sex as a means to forget.

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