Hemingway, E. The Sun Also Rises. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1954.
Frederic is the perfect example of the Hemingway apprentice hero. He takes a long time to discover himself and is referred to as “boy” throughout the novel. He does not have faith in abstract values or moral constructs like duty, honor and patriotism. His morality is defined by what feels good or bad. What feels good is good and what feels bad is bad. Hemingway’s apprentice hero Frederic says “farewell to arms” by leaving the war and trying to find some meaning with the nurse that helps him convalesce, Catherine or Cat. The war is proven futile and meaningless to Frederic and, like the Hemingway heroic code, he tries to escape the nada through his love of Catherine, even though he holds off going in this direction because he doubts it will bring him the happiness and meaning for which he searches. Dialogue between Frederic and Catherine shows the terse style of the author as well as the attempt by the hero to become one with the loved object in an attempt to find meaning. We see this in the following exchange where Frederic and Catherine share some intimacies:
The Greek tragedy heroic ideal is dualistic in that we have the Greek classic ideal of Plato, but this ideal is not the ideal of the tragic hero as embodied in Hemingway. It is an escape into an ideal, the pursuit of the Hemingway apprentice who has not yet learned there is no escaping nor a place to which one might escape. Instead, the Hemingway hero is a realist who toughs it out through sheer human will (and a little sex and alcohol on the side), much like the heroic in Thucydides. As Nietzsche notes in regard to the difference between the Thucydids heroic ideal and the Platonic heroic ideal, “Thucydides…the unconditional will not to gull oneself and to see reason in reality—not in ‘reason,’ still less in ‘morality.’ Thucydides: the great sum, the last revelation of that strong, severe, hard factuality which was in