Dealing with Death in A Farewell to Arms
“I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I picture myself dead in it” (P 126). This is a short quotation from, A Farewell to Arms, (1929), by Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms has a very unexpected death in the end. The reader sympathizes with the main character as he matures from the beginning to the conclusion of the novel.
A Farewell to Arms is a love story during World War I. The novel is centered on Lieutenant Fredric Henry, an American who has volunteered for the Italian army driving ambulances in Europe because the United States has not yet entered the war. Fredric is known as being a lost man searching for order and value in his life. He is very subdued and does not care about himself or about the war. In the first book of the novel, Fredric is characterized, along with the other characters. Throughout the first book, Fredric takes a leave of absence from the war and travels the country looking for his purpose in life.
During the second book, Fredric returns to the warfront town and meets with his closest friend, Rinaldi, who introduces Fredric to Catherine Barkely. Catherine is a French nurse with whom Fredric falls in love immediately. Fredric finds commitment with her, and they start to spend time together. Their relationship brings order and value to his life. He starts to care more about himself and Catherine. Being away from the war, Fredric feels safe with Catherine. When they are together, the war seems to not exist. “The war seemed as far away as the football games of someone else’s college,” says Fredric (P 63).
Catherine is experienced when it comes to love and loss since she lost her fiancé in an earlier war. She cannot depend on another person so she tries not to depend on Fredric to bring order to her life and less chaos. This then allows her to be emotionally stronger when Fredric has to go off to war again.
While off at war, Fredric and his other driver friends are sitting in a cave, when the Austrians attack. Fredric is hit in the knee while trying to help his friend, who dies. Fredric is taken to the hospital in Milan. When he arrives at the hospital, Rinaldi and Catherine come to visit him.