In A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway uses damaged characters to show the unglamorous and futile nature of war and the effects it has on people. Hemingway wants readers to know that war is not what people make it out to be; it is unspectacular and not heroic. Hemingway also feels that war is futile by nature and that most goals in war have almost no point. He also shows readers that military conflict often causes people to have shallow values and to hide their pain for their own protection.
Most people talk of war in heroic context, with the soldier being brave and able to face any challenge that is set in front of him, when this is not always true. Hemingway shows this through his characters. In A Farewell to Arms Rinaldi glorifies Lieutenant Henry’s injured knee. He insists that Henry is a hero despite Henry getting hit by an artillery strike while eating cheese and pasta. Rinaldi talks Henry up, saying that his actions during the course of his injury warrant the Silver Star and an English medal. In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Robert Jordan shares this heroic feeling, and feels that his actions can be important in the war, though he is unclear why. He calls his act of blowing up a bridge a turning point for both the Spanish Civil War and the human race. He thinks only of his valor and tells himself to stop worrying whenever another thought crosses his mind. “Robert Jordan pays… in order to assure the success of a Loyalist offensive, although he already knows that the offensive will be a failure” (Cowley 89). Hemingway shows that soldiers actually live much more mundane lives than people outside of war know. They do not experience the heroism that others around them, outside of the combat area, describe.
Hemingway reinforces his message that people and the media do not talk about war accurately by having his characters never discuss the worst parts of war. In A...