Ernest Hemingway’s 1914-1918 autobiographical novel, A Farewell to Arms, takes place on the Italian front during World War I. Frederic Henry, the main character, is a young American ambulance driver for the Italian army during the war. He is extremely disciplined and courageous, but feels detached from life. Rinaldi, a surgeon and friend of Frederic’s, introduces him to an English nurse named Catherine Barkley. Once introduced, Frederic discovers a capacity for love that he never knew he held. They begin seeing each other frequently, but keep it secret for fear of the army getting involved. While they were dating Henry was hurt in the war and sent to another hospital away from Catherine. Throughout the novel Frederic changes from an innocent, young soldier to a Hemingway code hero. Critics gave the term code hero to Hemingway’s novels because of the exact characteristics of writing each has. A code hero is one who is a brave man of action, knowledge, stoical, and a strong survivor. Frederic’s change into the code hero is displayed through his change in the way he looks at life and war. His experiences show that life is a trap and there is no hope for happiness.
In the beginning Frederic exhibit’s few characteristics of becoming the code hero. His views on life and the war are extremely naive, innocent, and idealistic. Early in the book he is more of a spectator to the war because he only notices his surrounding’s, but misses the effects of the situation he is in. When talking about the war and the epidemic of cholera that has come through, he says, "…Only seven thousand have died." This illustrates his innocent perception of the war because he doesn’t acknowledge how many people have actually died. Without understanding the reality of his surroundings he forgets that he too can die from the war. When the Italian army decides they must attack, Frederic must then leave for the battle site so he will be capable of getting anyone who is injured or killed. On his way he begins to notice the elegance of the countryside. This shows that his views of war are still idealistic through the fact that he still takes time to admire the beauty of the area around him. He still doesn’t see the destruction of the war that is happening right before his eyes. At the front, while setting waiting for the attack, he begins a conversation with another ambulance driver named Passini.