A Farewell to Arms, A Farewell to Faith Essay

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” Characterized by violence and terror, war takes away the beauty of humanity and exposes its evil and malicious side. Those who sacrifice their lives are continually tested by the ravenous nature of combat and the ability to take the life of another human. Majority of war participants return to reality a changed person, drastically affected by the devastating circumstances they had to endure. In his novel A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway addresses how an atmosphere of war and destruction invokes a loss of faith, belief and value for one’s life, correspondingly reimbursed with a more mechanic vitality.

The main objective of war is to defeat opposing forces, gaining power and influence in your favor. Before Lieutenant Frederic Henry leaves to the front, Catherine, his lover, gifts him a necklace of St. Anthony. A religious token, Frederic asks Catherine, “You are not Catholic are you” (43). She responds by saying, “No. But they say St. Anthony’s very useful” (43). With little respect to the religious background and belief, Catherine, involuntary to her own faith, interprets the necklace as an earthly, material token of bravery and safety, only desiring physical protection. Frederic questions Catherine because, as the major describes, “All thinking men are atheists” (8). Military men, who are constantly strategizing and planning, do not feel the need to consult with religion or faith. They believe that it will distract them from their manhood and make them weak. Henry describes how “It is only in defeat that we become Christian” (178). In a time when they are meant to be strong and capable, soldiers must focus on fact…

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… The war has put Catherine into a very fragile state in which her emotions are deeply shaped by the very likable death that surrounds her. The smallest beauties in life begin to frighten not only Catherine but many other military people. Those men and women despondently begin a routine of mimicking content and a fruitful life.

It is difficult for one to imagine their self in a situation similar to that of World War I. When put face to face with all their biggest fears, a loss of faith and value for their life is practically inevitable. The destruction of love, pride, and happiness destroy all the hope that they may have had, leaving only the mechanics and constricting logistics of life, with no room for the beauty and imagination of a wonderful life. In the wise words of President Kennedy, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”

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