Frederick as a Code Hero in Farewell to Arms
It is the nature of the beast within that fuels our inclination towards conflict and destruction. During the surreal powers of war, life hangs in the balance setting the stage for an elite group of individuals who triumphantly rise above the rest amidst the chaos. As Ernest Hemingway illustrates in his book, Farewell to Arms, the character of Frederick Henry; an ambulance driver, is put to the ultimate test during the madness and atrocity of WWI. His experiences at the front pose a challenge only a Hemingway hero can affront successfully. As the epitome of a code hero, Frederick is a man of action, self-discipline, and one who maintains grace under pressure.
Whenever the situation requires, Henry rises to the occasion taking control of potentially dangerous incidents with quick decision leaving no room for second thought. After Frederick is captured by the battle police, he foresees his inevitable death if no action was taken and instinctively escaped detainment. “I looked at the carabineri, they were looking at the newcomers. The others were looking a the colchel. I ducked down, pushed between two men, and ran for the river, my head down. I tripped at the edge and went in with a splash” (Hemingway, 214). Henry witnessed the gruesome executions of the officers before him and knew he was not going to die without a fight to preserve his precious existence. Being a man of action rather than words, was the determining factor which helped him survive this unfortunate confrontation with death. Regardless of the circumstances, Henry used his authoritative position to make sure others did not engage in any threatening positions that could jeopardize their safety and the safety of others. When one of his ambulances got suck in the mud during a retreat, two sergeants simply tried to abandon the situation but Frederick stopped them in their tracks. “Halt, I said. They kept on down the muddy road, the hedge on either side. I order you to halt. I called. They went a little faster. I opened up my holster, took the pistol, aimed at the one who talked the most, and fired” (Hemingway, 195). The men were given an ample opportunity to obey Henry’s commands and by ignoring them, it suggested that they were challenging their superior’s authority. Such actions are not tolerated by Frederick as he was once again forced to take the initiative as his character is always compelled to do.