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Ernest Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms, the protagonist, Frederic Henry is


dysfunctional and tragic. Throughout the story Henry lives up to this

description of shear

tragedy and dysfunction. The main elements that aid in

making him both tragic and

dysfunctional are: the fact that the love he and

Catherine shared at the end of the book

was doomed, this love was only "role-playing"

to him at first, and he went AWOL on the

Italian army.

The first detail

that contributes to making Henry a dysfunctional character is that

he uses

role-playing as a way of escaping the realization of the human mortality which


unveiled by the war. This role-playing begins on Henry and Catherine’s

third encounter.

After this meeting the two become increasingly comfortable

with their roles. It is as if

their whole relationship is a "game". Neither

one of them mistakes role-playing for a

truly intimate relationship, but both

recognize that it can be a useful device for satisfying

certain emotional

needs. This role-playing is a very dysfunctional characteristic of



The second point that makes Henry a dysfunctional character is that

he deserted

the Italian army. Not only was this illegal but it could have

cost him his life. Henry,

although an American, had made a commitment to the

Italian army, to protect and serve

Italy. This characteristic alone is enough

to make one dysfunctional, as it does to Henry.

In addition to being a dysfunctional

character, Henry is also a tragic character.

The love that Henry gains for

Catherine is pure tragedy. Although the relationship that

Frederic and Catherine

had started out to be only role-playing it turned into something

much more,

it became true love. This love was more than could be explained in words.


love during an ugly war was not to be recreated or modeled even as much as


a baby conceived by their love. The baby could not be born alive because their


was beautiful yet doomed so that nothing could come out of it. "In a world

where the

abstracts of glory, honor, and sacrifice meant little to Frederic,

his physical association

with Catherine was the only thing he had and it was

taken away from him long before she


In conclusion, these three main

items aid in making Henry a dysfunctional and

tragic character. Henry had

fled his duty as a soldier, giving up on the country he had

confided in. Henry

was engaged in a relationship which started as a mere game, grew into


and ultimately ended in the tragic death of his precious wife and child. Frederic


is a tragic and dysfunctional character in a tragic and dysfunctional story.

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