A Farewell to Arms Setting Theme
Rain, like water, is often times used in literature as a symbol of a new life, or a fresh beginning. But in the novel A Farewell to Arms, Ernst Hemingway uses rain in a totally different, non-traditional way. In this novel, Hemingway uses rain to establish a negative, depressed tone, to warn of future unfortunate circumstances, and to accompany scenes which death occurs in, to add to the horrid situation.
Hemingway uses rain in the scene when Henry leaves the train station to go back to war. In the book, it rained the entire night that Henry left. “Outside the mist turned to rain and in a little while it was raining hard. We heard raining on the roof.”
The use of rain in this scene causes the reader to feel drained and unhappy. By using rain in this specific part of the book, it makes the tone more emotional, and depressing which is exactly what the author was trying to achieve. Hemingway also uses rain as apart of the scene before Catherine and Henry are about to find out about some terrible news. Before the barman entered their hotel room, Hemingway desribed the weather outside as violent and stormy. “That night there was a storm. I woke up to hear rain lashing the window-panes. It was coming through the windows.” The use of rain in this scene is a warning of the imminent negative news Henry was soon to discover. He received the knowledge that the Italian Army was going to arrest him before and during when it was raining it outside. Therefore, the rain played a substantial part in establishing this scene.
Rain also accompanies and surrounds the death of Catherine, and their stillborn child. It was raining before Catherine went into labor, the whole time she was in the hospital giving birth, and after both her and her child’s death. The setting outside while Catherine was in labor was dark and dreary. “I could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light of the window.”
Again rain was used in this part of the book to add to the already terrible situation, and made the reader really see and feel the total distress of this scene.