The historical novel, "A Farewell to Arms," by Ernest Hemingway in 1929, uses a minor character as a foil to show the strengths and weaknesses of the main character. Lieutenant Fredric Henry is an American ambulance driver for the Italian army during World War I. Henry meets an English nurse, Catherine, and falls in love with her. Henry and Catherine are both struggling to find themselves during the tough times of the war. Hemingway uses the literary device of foil characters to show how opposites attract. .
Henry may not be looking for love, but when he finds it, being romantic shows to be his strength. When Henry and Catherine meet, they are introduced through Henry's friend Rinaldi who was going to marry Catherine. Soon after, Rinaldi is out of the picture. Ever since meeting Catherine, all Henry wants is sex, not love. Catherine is looking for love, not sex. Catherine asks Henry if he said he loves her, lying, he replies, "Yes . . . I love you" (30). Henry doesn't think that he can fall in love. Catherine pushes Henry to step outside of his comfort zone and take a chance with love. With Henry going all in, he finds that love is a wonderful thing. Catherine is also a little more practical than Henry. Henry shows Catherine that he can be very romantic. Henry thinks to himself, "[Catherine] looked fresh and young and very beautiful. I thought I had never seen anyone so beautiful" (91). Catherine is always asking if Henry really loves her and he finds ways to prove to her that he really does. Without Catherine's help, Henry would not be where he should be. .
Henry's immatureness shows he is weak. Catherine has matured before the novel begins and helps Henry become more like her. She also wants Henry to love her the way her deceased fiancé did. She has very high expectations of Henry and expects him to live up to those expectations. They both have different views of the war which shows their maturity levels.