A Farewell to Arms

Catherine Barkley seems to take on the role of the submissive fawning dream girl, though she more accurately portrays a strong, independent woman.
Catherine first asserts her independent nature through her lack of religion. There is never a doubt that Catherine has no belief system, whereas Henry struggles with piety throughout the novel. She clearly shows her disbelief in an afterlife stating that when her fiance was killed in the war “that was the end of it” (19). Henry is hesitant to claim there is no afterlife stating, “I don’t know.” And again, Catherine takes on the dominant role claiming, “Oh yes. That’s the end of it” (19). Another occurrence of Catherine’s assertiveness would be when she and Henry are talking about the Saint Anthony necklace she had given him before he was injured and Henry states, “You gave me Saint Anthony,” but Catherine disregards this comment replying, “That was for luck. Some one gave it to me” (116).
Catherine also blatantly reacts against sexual purity and yields sexual dominance in her relationship with Henry. Catherine starts the game of love with Henry stating, “Oh I love you so. Please put your hand there again” (30), and she also ends this game and their sexual deviance stating, “And you don’t have to say you love me. That’s all over for a while” (32). When Henry urges her to continue she states, “No. Good night” (32). Catherine also quite literally dominates her relationship with Henry when he is in the hospital, as she decides when they have sex and when she will come in and see him. Henry is quite literally nursed back to health by Catherine, as she does take on this feminine role, but this role is empowering rather than repressive. Catherine even openly expresses her desire for impurity in the scene at the cheap motel when she states, “I wish we could do something really sinful. Everything we do seems so innocent and simple” (153). Catherine is taking on an impulsive masculine role.
Catherine may appear to embody…

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