War On Masculinity In Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms

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Upon reading Ernest Hemingway’s texts, one would be likely to feel the deep wounds etched in the protagonists’ psyche through the morose, tragic lives they lead amidst an unsettling period of war. In For Whom The Bell Tolls (henceforth FWTBT), main character Robert Jordan is tasked to blow up a vital bridge with the help of a jamboree of anti-fascist guerillas in order to seclude the enemy in the Spanish mountains. We know very little of Jordan’s motivations and his backstory prior to the mission – much in line with Hemingway’s ‘iceberg’ theory. However, the experienced dynamiter inevitably goes through a Bildungs of sorts – particularly, when his infatuation for Maria grows incrementally desirous. Although war has often been depicted as a…show more content…
Although I would argue that these novels dramatizes an overriding concern with the impact of war on masculinity by immobilizing the male subject. Federic’s observations of the condition of the soldiers in the first chapter of A Farewell To Arms challenge us to consider the possibility of the demarcation of the mind and body. This, in turn, destabilizes the notion of wholeness which Federic covets. Meanwhile in FWTBT, Pilar (initially referred to merely as ‘Pablo’s woman’) begins to take charge of the men when Pablo announces his refusal to blow up the bridge. Again, trauma threatens to disrupt the traditional hierarchy of gender and places what few female characters that exist in the stories up on a higher pedestal. Hence, this paper will attempt to study how trauma manages to reshape our original notions of the relation between masculinity and war; finally destroying the assumption that it is simply a strictly patriarchal…show more content…
Although critics have “accused” her of being “docile, meek and infuriatingly subservient”, Carter suggests that the role of Maria penetrates these interjections and could even be seen as an “active fighter of the guerilla army” albeit in her own way. The above views shed light on a consequential issue on our perception of the commonly dismissed female characters within a wartime novel. It is arduous to take Maria seriously from the very beginning when Hemingway stalls her within a domestic radius. However, this seemingly powerless character connotes a seamless familiarity with her love interest, Jordan. During her conversation with Jordan when he questions how long she has been an anti-fascist, she asserts, ‘“Since I’ve understood fascism... My father was a republican all his life. It was for they shot him.”’ (69) Hemingway constructs Maria’s political beliefs based on the horrifying trauma of losing her father – it is not simply a matter of choosing sides but an effect of a deeper, psychological impact that extends generations of families. This reiterates an implicit strand of camaraderie between Maria and Jordan when the latter admits that his father ‘“shot himself... To avoid being tortured.”’ (70) At this stage of the novel, Hemingway skews the conventional gender roles played out

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