A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, is a typical love story. A Romeo and his Juliet placed against the odds. Frederick and Catherine’s love affair must survive the obstacles of World War I. The background of war-torn Italy adds to the tragedy of the love story. The war affects the emotions and values of each character. The love between Catherine and Frederick must outlast long separations, life-threatening wartime situations, and the uncertainty of each other’s whereabouts or condition. This novel is a beautiful love story of two people who need each other in a period of upheaval.

Frederick Henry is an American who serves as a lieutenant in the Italian army to a group of ambulance drivers. Hemingway portrays Frederick as a lost man searching for order and value in his life. Frederick disagrees with the war he is fighting. It is too chaotic and immoral for him to rationalize its cause. He fights anyway, because the army puts some form of discipline in his life. At the start of the novel, Frederick drinks and travels from one house of prostitution to another and yet he is discontent because his life is very unsettled.

He befriends a priest because he admires the fact that the priest lives his life by a set of values that give him an orderly lifestyle. Further into the novel, Frederick becomes involved with Catherine Barkley. He slowly falls in love with her and, in his love for her, he finds commitment. 2 Their relationship brings some order and value to his life. Compared to this new form of order in his life, Frederick sees the losing Italian army as total chaos and disorder where he had previously seen discipline and control. He can no longer remain a part of something that is so disorderly and so, he deserts the Italian army.

Frederick’s desertion from the Italian army is the turning point of the novel. This is the significance of the title, A Farewell to Arms. When Frederick puts aside his involvement in the war, he realizes that Catherine is the order and value in his life and that he does not need anything else to give meaning to his life. At the conclusion of this novel, Frederick realizes that he cannot base his life on another person or thing because, ultimately, they will leave or disappoint him. He realizes that the order and values necessary to face the world must come from within himself.

Catherine Barkley is an English volunteer nurse who serves in Italy. She is considered very experienced when it comes to love and loss since she has already been confronted with the death of a loved one when her fiancee was killed earlier in the war. The reader is not as well acquainted with Catherine’s inner thoughts and feelings as we are with those of Frederick. The story is told through Frederick’s eyes and the reader only meets Catherine through the dialogue between her and Frederick or through his personal interpretations of her actions. Catherine already possesses the knowledge that her own life cannot be dependent on another.

She learned this lesson through the death of her fiancee. Her love for Frederick is what her life revolves around, yet she knows 3 not to rely on him to be the order in her life. Had she been dependent on Frederick for the order in her life, she would not have been able to allow him to participate in the war for fear of losing her own stability with his death. The theme that Hemingway emphasizes throughout the novel is the search for order in a chaotic world. Hemingway conveys this through Frederick’s own personal search during the chaos of World War I. Catherine has found strength within herself to lead her through life.

This is what Frederick must come to realize. Through his involvement with Catherine, Frederick slowly finds his own inner strength. Frederick’s affair with Catherine prompts him to leave his wild life of prostitutes and drink. He becomes aware of an element of stability in their affair and realizes that the war that he was involved in was too chaotic, so he deserts the army. He and Catherine make a life for themselves totally isolated from everything and everyone else. Frederick believes that his life is now completely in order and that his values are in perspective, yet he still seems discontented.

He continuously has to convince himself that he has “a fine life. ” He has not yet reached Catherine’s level that enables her to be perfectly happy in their love and yet not dependent on it for all comfort and support. Frederick still has to find that within himself. Until the conclusion of the novel, Frederick still relies on Catherine as the source of order in his life. With the end of their affair when Catherine dies giving birth to their stillborn love child, Frederick realizes that he cannot depend on any one person, such as Catherine, or any thing, such as religion, war, or frivolity, for order and discipline.

Hemingway describes Frederick’s 4 enlightenment best in the final paragraph of the novel when Frederick sees Catherine’s corpse for the first and last time. Frederick’s reaction was that “it was like saying good-by to a statue. “(p332) Frederick realizes that Catherine was only a symbol of the order and strength in his life. Strength to face life must come from within him and only he will be able to get himself through his own life. He will have to learn to depend on himself. Frederick realizes this and is able to get on with his life on his own. “After a while [he] went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. p332)

He did not mourn or feel like his own life had ended with her death, rather he was able to continue on with his newfound inner strength and face his world alone. A Farewell to Arms succeeds in getting Hemingway’s message across. Frederick’s realization causes the readers to reflect on his/her own life and on what institutions they depend on in their own lives. I enjoyed this novel because I learned along with Frederick that I must face my life on my own. The strength to face my problems cannot come from any other source because no other source can ever be as permanent as the strength that I can find within myself.

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A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

Love is impossible to explain or fully understand; it is enfable and war is merely an outcome of disputes between ignorant aristocrats. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, is a novel about love and war. The narrator, Fredrick Henry is a war-time ambulance driver, and Catherine Barkley is an English nurse, who find themselves in a love affair which must maneuver itself around the restrictions of World War I. The novel begins in Gorizia, Italy the center of operations for Fredricks troop, World War I. Fredrick is an American volunteer and in the Ambulance

Corps for the Italian Army. He meets a English nurse Catherine named Barkley and does not truly fall in love with her until he gets badly wounded and is put in a hospital. They begin to have alove affair and Catherine becomes impregnated. With a baby on the way Fredrick feels a real sense of responsibility towards Catherine. When he finaly recovers from from his lengthy stay in the hospital he returns to front. When the two part it is very rainy, cloudy, and gloomy. Hemingway makes good use of weather in pursuit of verisimilitude.

There is so much violence and death in the war Fredrick no longer wants to be a apart of it and deserts the army to return to Catherine. When they reunite the rain stops and there is light. They then escape to Switzerland by boat and begin to live happily. When Catherine goes into labor there is complications. The baby dies and later Catherine dies from hemorrhaging. What is love? Love is difficult to explain but, it involves a deep affection for a person or thing. At the beginning of the novel, lieutenant Frederick Henry lacks a sense of value and order in his life. He chooses to intoxicate himself and make visits to prostitutes frequently.

During this time of intense stress and pressure this lifestyle is common amongst his fellow comrades. It provides them with an escape from a hostile and undesirable reality of war. Lieutenant Rinaldi , Fredricks enthusiastic surgeon friend soon introduces him to an English nurse, Catherine Barkley. Their relationship brings some order and value into his life. This new form of order which Fredrick discovers is love. He can no longer remain apart of something that is so disorderly and consequently deserts the Italian army ut of love: When you love you wish to do things for.

You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve. This explains Fredricks love and devotion towards Catherine. Catherine is the order and value in his life and when Fredrick puts aside his involvement in the war he realizes that love is what gives his life meaning. Later in the novel Fredrick loses what he truly charishes and all his hopes for the future are lost. Love is a powerful emotion that can provide a sense of meaning in ones life but, one must not put too much trust into something because it can easily be taken away.

Another critical aspect of novel is war. World War I, the great war was fought primarily in Europe. It was prompted when Austria-Hungary laid blame on the Serbs for the assasination Frans Ferdinand which in turn gave them an excuse to invade Serbia. From that invasion it sparked a chain reaction of numerous countries to become involved. In the novel the countries that are fighting are Italy and Austria-Hungary. During a period of war opposing tension between enemy countries is high. A one point in the novel Fredrick goes in to the barbershop to get his haircut.

The barber does not know Fredrick is on the Italians side and he will not accept a tip from him he said. I will not. I am not at the front. But I am an Italian. This displays the extreme nationalism and uncertainty people carry during war. Towards the end of the novel Italian forces have lost several key battles. The morale of the troops is sinking day by day and everyone is exhausted from the war. Surgeons, including Rinaldi is working around the clock. This war is killing me, Rinaldi tells Fre*censored*. All summer and fall Ive operated. I do everybodys work.

Not only is Rinaldi overworking, he admits to having contracted syphilis. This once enthusiastic, young man is completely spent from the war proving that one way or another the war makes everyone ill. World War I claimed many lives was decided by ignorant aristocrats looking only for prestige amongst themselves. War is a barbaric and unnecessary means to the end of a problem. Love is a powerful emotion that can drive one through a time of hardship, like war. In A Farewell to Arms, without Catherine and her love Fredrick would have been wondering aimlessly through the war.


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