Essay on Theme of Fate in “A Farewell to Arms”

Merriam Webster defines the word idealist as “one guided by ideals; especially: one that places ideals before practical considerations.” Throughout the novel Catherine clearly displays characteristics of idealism, such as her overly romantic ways, and her inability to often think rationally. In the novel while talking about other girls Frederic has been with, Catherine says “It’s alright. Keep right on lying to me. That’s what I want you to do.” She asks to be lied to by Frederic, even though what he is saying is clearly not true and he is not even actually in love with her yet. This seems irrational and unrealistic but her romanticism outweighs her ability to think clearly. Later on in the novel Catherine and Frederic also contemplate being married legally, but Catherine does not seem to particularly care, since they are already “married” in her mind. She does not see any reason to make it legal even though they are risking becoming pregnant out of wedlock, which in fact does happen later in the novel. While most women at that time would insist on being married, especially if they were having relations as Frederic and Catherine were, her idealistic manner keeps her from thinking marriage is necessary. Catherine clearly lets her heart guide her throughout the novel, and although it is not always correct or rational, she does remain true to her ideals, making her a true idealist.

Fate plays an immense role in A Farewell to Arms with Catherine and Frederic as a couple, but also with Frederic on his own. For example, If Lt. Henry had not gone to meet Catherine with Rinaldi the novel would not have even had a story. Also, when Frederic gets seriously injured and is taken to the hospital, it as if fate steps in, by putting Catheri…

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…Catherine are not married. She tries to comfort Ferguson instead of becoming angered, as Frederic does. Also when fleeing to Switzerland Catherine keeps her calm to successfully acquire visas so that they can stay and Lt. Henry will not be captured. The most obvious place in the novel where Catherine shows she is not scared of death and how well she remains graceful, even under pressure is during her painful labor. She does her best to stay positive even though she becomes certain she is going to die, and she is constantly reassuring Frederic. She says everything from “Don’t mind me, darling. Please don’t cry. Don’t mind me,” to “Don’t worry darling, I’m not a bit afraid. It’s just a dirty trick,” in hopes of comforting Frederic. Even though she is in great pain she is not thinking about herself, but instead Frederic just as she does for the duration of the novel.

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