Essay About Love in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms

The Defeat of Love in A Farewell to Arms


The story begins in Gorizia, Italy, the headquarters of Frederick’s troop, during World War I. The narrator is Frederick Henry, which is unclear at first. Frederick is an American volunteer in the Ambulance Corps, and a second lieutenant in the Italian Army. A young priest stays with the troop. Everyone but Frederick is Roman Catholic, but he is the only one who respects him. Frederick has a leave and is deciding where to go. The priest suggests going to Abruzzi. Although Frederick says he will go, he goes to houses of prostitution. When he returns, he says he is sorry he did not go, but that he went to a place where a man can find his inner self. Lieutenant Rinaldi shares a room with Frederick. He is an emotional Italian, and is always in love with someone. When he is first introduced, he is in love with Catherine Barkley, a nurse at a local hospital. Frederick goes with Rinaldi to meet her. When they first meet, Catherine speaks of her finance killed in war. Frederick starts going to visit Catherine everyday. Frederick is not in love with Catherine, but he wants to have an affair with her. He tries to kiss her, but she slaps him. Frederick has to go to war so she gives him Saint Anthony on a necklace. While fighting, Frederick gets wounded very badly. Rinaldi and the priest visit him at the hospital. Catherine visits him later and they have an affair in the hospital room. After this Frederick realizes that he is really, truely in love with her; that he isn’t just attacted to her physically anymore. Catherine is now stationed at the hospital Frederick is in and changes her schedule to the night shift. Catherine is pregnant and Frederick feels “trapped biologically”. They are both staying in a hotel room, and wish they had somewhere to go after watching an Italian couple in a church. Then Frederick must go back to war. when they part it is rainy, cloudy, and gloomy. There is much sickness and death in the war, along with much violence. Frederick dives into the river trying to “wash away” his life of war. He has deserted the army to return to Catherine. They find eachother again in the town of Stresa. After they are reunited, the rain stops and there is light.

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