Event Title

"I Was Blown up While We Were Eating Cheese”: Deconstructing the Hero in A Farewell to Arms

Faculty Mentor

Leslie Bickford, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of English

Location

West Center, Room 217

Start Date

21-4-2017 1:30 PM

Description

In their analyses of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, many critics consider Henry a victim of war and an honorable soldier, but few recognize that Henry is not a brave war hero. In this paper, I utilize a deconstructionist view to deconstruct key scenes that reinforce the hero/anti-hero binary opposition and more accurately depict Henry as an anti-hero. Henry’s anti-heroism is first illustrated in the nature of his wound and the value soldiers place on medals. Regardless of being severely wounded due to an indifference to danger and a preoccupation with eating, Henry is still rewarded with medals, which signify him as an honorable hero. Through slippage between the signifier and the signified, though, the medals’ illegitimacy identifies him as an anti-hero. Through Henry’s murder of the soldier, there is additional slippage between the signifier and the signified of the word honor as Henry’s actions are dishonorable. Furthermore, in Henry’s abandonment of the war, différance is exhibited in both the sharp contrast drawn between Henry’s and the officer’s values and in Henry’s postponement of death. Additionally, not only does Henry’s abandonment demonstrate his self-preservation, but he also fails to see that his situation has been flipped with the solider he killed. Lastly, there is further slippage between the signifier and the signified of the word bravery as Henry identifies himself as one of the broken and non-brave and Catherine as one of the brave. Consequently, Henry confirms himself to be an anti-hero, while Catherine becomes the hero.

Previously Presented/Performed?

South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA), Jacksonville, Florida, November 2016

Course Assignment

ENGL 300- Bickford

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Apr 21st, 1:30 PM

"I Was Blown up While We Were Eating Cheese”: Deconstructing the Hero in A Farewell to Arms

West Center, Room 217

In their analyses of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, many critics consider Henry a victim of war and an honorable soldier, but few recognize that Henry is not a brave war hero. In this paper, I utilize a deconstructionist view to deconstruct key scenes that reinforce the hero/anti-hero binary opposition and more accurately depict Henry as an anti-hero. Henry’s anti-heroism is first illustrated in the nature of his wound and the value soldiers place on medals. Regardless of being severely wounded due to an indifference to danger and a preoccupation with eating, Henry is still rewarded with medals, which signify him as an honorable hero. Through slippage between the signifier and the signified, though, the medals’ illegitimacy identifies him as an anti-hero. Through Henry’s murder of the soldier, there is additional slippage between the signifier and the signified of the word honor as Henry’s actions are dishonorable. Furthermore, in Henry’s abandonment of the war, différance is exhibited in both the sharp contrast drawn between Henry’s and the officer’s values and in Henry’s postponement of death. Additionally, not only does Henry’s abandonment demonstrate his self-preservation, but he also fails to see that his situation has been flipped with the solider he killed. Lastly, there is further slippage between the signifier and the signified of the word bravery as Henry identifies himself as one of the broken and non-brave and Catherine as one of the brave. Consequently, Henry confirms himself to be an anti-hero, while Catherine becomes the hero.