A Farewell to Arms
Review Of Ernest Hemingway’s Novel a Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell to Arms, first published in 1929, largely takes place on the Italian front during World War I. This novel follows Frederic Henry, an American lieutenant serving in the ambulance corps of the Italian army. Ernest Hemingway invites us into the friendships, heroism, hardships, and the love story of Frederic Henry.
Throughout this novel, Frederic Henry works along with his closest friend Rinaldi, who is a skilled surgeon in the army that drinks too much and visits many women. He is provided with spiritual advice from the Priest who is often teased by the other guys. Frederic Henry is introduced to a woman that Rinaldi swears his love for, an English nurse by the name of Catherine Barkley. Each character has a profound impact on Frederic’s life in different ways. Through this portrayal, the novel suggests Frederic Henry is a man of honor who doesn’t expect praise for his heroism but lacks love in his life. Catherine Barkley, the nurse who can be interpreted as weak and dependent, shows Henry that love is a possibility. She teaches us that facing hardships in life doesn’t have to prevent you from living a satisfying life. The Priest challenges Frederic Henry’s belief that he is in love with Catherine by describing it as lust and continues to teach him and us as readers that you are able to maintain your beliefs and values while facing scrutiny from your peers. Rinaldi is living life to the fullest as an admirable and heroic surgeon and friend but falls short as a womanizer and alcoholic. We learn from this that you may have flaws but that doesn’t reflect on you as a person.
The relationship between Catherine Barkley and Frederic Henry is romanitic yet odd. Both characters are scared of love. Frederic claims he has never been in love while Catherine mourns the death of her boyfriend. She carries a thin rattan stick that his mother sent to her after his death. Frederic questions Catherine about not marrying the boy. She ask him ask him afterwards if he has ever loved anyone. This seemed to be a great deal of personal questions for someone to have just met. I can only assume that Catherine felt comfortable asking this because she had discussed so much about her previous relationship. Although Catherine feels comfortable with asking questions, she refrains herself from accepting a kiss from Frederic. “I leaned forward in the dark to kiss her and there was a sharp stinging flash” (24). Afterwards, Catherine agrees to the kiss followed by questions of Frederic being good to her. I think the novel tries to portray Catherine as weak and submissive with giving Henry all the power in the relationship. Hemingway goes on to describe Frederic and Catherine discussing marriage. “Don’t talk as though you had to make an honest woman out of me. I’m a very honest woman”. This is an example of Catherine being strong willed. Afterwards, she describes herself as so faithful.
All through the novel you see Catherine as someone who adores Frederic but is also her own person. Hemingway describes women as ladies of the night, as entertainment for the men in this novel but Catherine is a brave woman who knows her place. Some may confuse her behavior as desperate for Frederic but I see her as a self confident, brave woman that has learned to accept things that she cannot change. In addition, to learning from Catherine Barkley about life and love, Frederic Henry has the Priest at his side to offer spiritual guidance along his journey. The Priest is dealt a rough hand with the other guys. He is often the target of jokes from the other men because he takes his title serious. He chooses not to “play” with the available girls as the other men do. I see this as strength and power. He believes what Frederic describes to him about his nights with Catherine as lust. “What you tell me about in the nights. That is not love. That is only passion and lust”. He goes on to describe love as a sacrifice and as a service. He says later that he has not loved a woman. I see this as his interpretation of love pertaining to God. He sacrifices his human nature to want to be with the girls and chooses to serve God as a man of integrity. Lastly, Frederic Henry has Rinaldi, a lieutenant, who is also a man of integrity. He spends his days and nights as a skilled surgeon saving the lives of those that serve.
In the beginning of the novel, it is a possibility that we are being led to think that Rinaldi has more of a friendship love for Frederic. Rinaldi’s over the top, flamboyant personality in our time period would make people think that Rinaldi is gay. To be honest at first I thought this. As you read you learn that Rinaldi is someone that loves and respects Frederic. He shows this on page 59 where he talks about having Frederic decorated with the bronze or silver. Further in the novel you start to see Rinaldi evolve. On page 150, Frederic asks Rinaldi what is the matter with him. “The war is killing me, I am very depressed by it”. Rinaldi is normally an upbeat, go with the flow, and let’s have all the fun kind of guy. This shows the war is draining him. Even in our time now the war has affected many people. Although the war was tough I feel like he had some underlying issues that were not revealed to us. With his imperfections, he is still stood as a heroic figure in this novel. He made a profound impact on Henry’s life as a friend by caring, giving advice, and just being himself. It shows that Henry never forgets him or the Priest as the novel comes to an end when Catherine asks Frederic what he wonders about. He answers “About Rinaldi and the priest and lots of people I know”.
In conclusion, I feel like Hemingway encourages us to think for ourselves. This novel is basically our own individual interpretation due to the gaps that fill it. We learn that Frederic Henry is close friends with Rinaldi, enjoys his company, and embarks on the lady train with him till he meets Catherine Barkley. The Priest doesn’t understand Frederic and Catherine’s love because he has only experienced his love for God. Catherine is a sometimes portrayed as weak due to the overwhelming amount of love she feels for Frederic. We are taught the length of how far her strength travels till the ending when she dies.
A Farewell to Arms: Literary Analysis, Motifs, Symbols
A Farewell to Arms Journal
A Farewell to Arms is a novel by Ernest Hemingway, published in 1929.
The story is told in first-person, past tense by the main character, Frederic Henry. This means that there are two versions of Henry that the reader must take into account: Henry the narrator and Henry the character who is being told about. This raises the question of narrator reliability. What is the narrator’s motive in telling the story? Is he being truthful or bending events to fit his bias? Henry the narrator never reveals his current whereabouts, age, how much time has passed since the events he is describing, or any other general information about himself. However, the lack of information the narrator gives as to his current situation can be seen as increasing his reliability, as he is focusing solely and totally on confessing the events of his past, rather than where he is now. The narrator also does not make Henry a perfect character. Henry risks his life to care for wounded soldiers and treats Catherine fairly well, but he also lies, drinks frequently, and engages in other morally questionable behaviors. Henry the narrator does not try to make himself look good in his telling of events, but portrays himself as imperfect and multifaceted.
The character of Catherine has been seen as both proof that Hemingway was misogynistic and as a more deep, intricate character. While Catherine does seem dependent on Henry (saying, for example, “There isn’t any me. I’m you. Don’t make up a separate me.”), she is also a brave and strong woman, working hard to tend to men wounded in the war. Her intense love for Henry may be part of a coping mechanism to deal with the chaos of war all around her. Her love keeps her from being all-encompassed by grief and sorrow over her fiance, the war, and the other troubles of her life.
Hemingway has a clearly recognizable style of writing that is present throughout A Farewell to Arms (and his other works). Sentences tend to be abrupt and to-the-point, without excessive figurative or poetic language. Though the situations Henry finds himself in are chaotic and violent, this is not portrayed in the dialogue and narration, which tends to be fairly calm. This fits in with Hemingway’s famous “Iceberg Principle.” Hemingway believed that the reader needed only the surface information, like the surface of an iceberg, to understand the complex situations and ideas that are actually being discussed in the novel, the unseen part of the iceberg. The dialogue and narration may be calm and ordered, but the tumultuous situations and ideas at the heart of the novel can be derived and understood from it. The tone of the novel tends to be confessional. Henry is not lying to make himself look good or glorify his bravery during war time, he is confessing some of the most intense and dark times of his life, from his falling in love with Catherine to his indifferent response to his dying child.
One of the most prominent symbols in A Farewell to Arms is the frequent rain. The rain represents the inevitable end of Catherine and Henry’s love and all other things in life. Catherine says that rain scares her and ruins things for lovers, and doom does eventually come to their relationship. Henry’s walking back to the hotel in the rain reaffirms that the fact that all things, love or otherwise, come to an end. Another symbol in the novel is Catherine’s hair. When Catherine lets down her hair around Henry’s head, he says that it reminds him of a waterfall or being inside a tent. Her hair represents their happiness and the temporary isolation from the chaotic world that their love provides for them.
A motif that can be found in the novel is masculinity. Henry, like many of Hemingway’s lead characters, is a “man’s man.” He engages in masculine activities and has a fairly masculine profession. Hemingway inserts humor occasionally by mocking characters that would not be considered as macho and manly as characters like Henry or Rinaldi. Rinaldi makes fun of the priest for his lack of sexuality and Dr. Valentini is described as impressive partly because of the three physically unimpressive and overly cautious men who came before him.
A Farewell to Arms: Old Fashioned Love and Catherine
Catherine and Old Fashioned Love in A Farewell to Arms
The traditional practices of love and marriage are often jarring and even alien to young people. These days we tend to carry out mutual affection via a system of give and take, of sharing one’s life and love with the other party in equal measure, or so we would ideally have it. We get married, we have kids, but we don’t completely give our lives away to the other person, or, more specifically, the women do not give themselves entirely to a man, and even in marriage such practice is no longer expected. Women can have their own lives, their own careers, and it’s up to them to decide for themselves how they wish to live their lives. So when we see what one might consider the “traditional” marriage ideal—that practice found in the early 20th century, before or just after women even had the right to vote—it can be seen as strange and even barbaric. Such is the love practiced in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms between Frederic and Catherine, and their relationship may even be something of a parody.
Of course, that isn’t to say that their love isn’t genuine. Frederic repeats several times that he loves her so, and Catherine certainly would have no reason or desire to give herself so fully to Frederic if she didn’t love him back. The satirical elements only show themselves when one realizes how cornily over-the-top this total affection they have for each other is, especially in the case of Catherine’s feelings for Frederic. She makes a point to state very often that she basically gives up any want of happiness for herself and that she is instead choosing to be devoted entirely to Frederic and making him happy. Frequently she lets him make major life decisions for the both of them, like running from the Italian police and moving to Switzerland, or having a baby out of wedlock (which brings up the question of the novel’s stance on religion, which is an entirely different paper).
And though he loves her very much, Frederic doesn’t exchange this sentiment. Sure, he wants Catherine to be happy, but he does not give himself up for her happiness like she does for him, and, indeed, if he did, then they would likely pull themselves apart for indecision. I can only imagine the fights that would ensue over deciding which restaurant to dine at. No, instead, he leads the charge throughout the novel when it comes to their relationship, and, according to classical marital standards, this is the correct way to run a family: the man is in charge, the woman supports him and makes him happy and has the babies. This persists throughout the novel, at least until they find peace in Switzerland, at which time she starts to have wants and desires of her own, though, again, they never conflict with Frederic’s wishes. She never gets bored and wishes to move out of Switzerland and back to Britain, but in the late stages of her pregnancy it becomes Frederic’s mission to take care of her, at least to an extent.
There is one scene, however, that strongly features her, and this is a moment that majorly foreshadows the ending. During Frederic’s recovery near the end of book two, the two of them share a stormy night alone in the hospital. Catherine speaks of being afraid of the rain, and when questioned by Frederic, she admits to being afraid of the vision of seeing herself in it, dead, as well as Frederic. Rather than Frederic comforting her, she comforts herself, saying, “It’s all nonsense,” and, “I can keep you safe. I know I can. But nobody can help themselves.” This foreshadows the ending because, in the end, it rains, and she dies giving birth to her son, who was also a miscarriage, leaving Frederic, alone and unprotected, to wander through the rain back to his hotel.
Literary Analysis of Ernest Hemingway’s Book, a Farewell to Arms
“A Farewell to Arms”, by Ernest Hemingway, is a tragic love story that takes place during World War 1, in Italy. Henry was an American ambulance driver in the Italian army. During his service, Henry faced many horrific events that affected his views on the war. He was severely injured when a mortar bomb hit him and his crew. Meeting Catherine and falling in love with her was a major catalyst to why he started to truly resent the war. Before meeting her, he did not believe in love. Throughout the novel, Hemingway focuses on the theme of love and war and how the two cannot coexist. After finding love with Catherine, Henry was able to find a system of values to live by that he did not know existed previously.
Before meeting Catherine, Henry was a lady’s man. He did not believe in love or know what it was like to love someone. Henry would hang out with the other men in his crew and meet many women. When Rinaldi, Henry’s roommate, introduced him to Catherine, he was taken aback by her beauty. When Catherine and Henry started dating, Hery was playing a game with Catherine and she could see right through him. They had different intentions when it came to being together. Catherine wanted a man to protect her and love her, while Henry’s main goal was to sleep with her. As time progressed, Henry started developing feelings for Catherine and ended up falling in love with her. Catherine kept him distracted while he faced various hardships during the war. When with Catherine, Henry had forgotten all about his battle wounds and horrors of the war. When he was not with her, Henry felt lonesome and uneasy. Henry regretted wasting time with other women when he could have been with Catherine the entire time. When Catherine died, Henry was devastated that the love of his life was no longer going to guide him in a world that was full of fighting and war. Meeting Catherine and falling in love with her had given Henry a system of values to live by when it came to love. He had learned what it meant to love someone and how to care for them. After Catherine’s tragic death, these values would stay with Henry forever.
In the end, Henry was able to find a system of values, based on love, to live by. Catherine taught him the meaning of love and what it was like to be loved by another. As their relationship continued, Henry focused less on the war and more on Catherine. He wanted her to be happy, as she wanted the same for him. Henry and Catherine’s relationship proved to be successful, however, it was Catherine’s tragic death that proved love and war could not coexist. War is never a good place to fall in love. Just like the war, it will end in a tragedy.
Charles Vidor and John Huston’s Depiction of Love between Frederick Henry and Catherine Barkley In, a Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms
One of the greatest love stories of all time, A Farewell to Arms (1957), a film adaptation of the book by Ernest Hemingway, recounts the romance between an American ambulance driver, Frederick Henry, and a British nurse, Catherine Barkley, amidst the horrors of World War One. The movie accurately depicts the real life events of Hemingway’s life, key events on the Italian front, and the attitudes towards the war effort, but lacks in consistency with the actual book, in appeal to the audience, and the effect of the war on the relationship.
The pair first meets by the introduction of Frederick’s friend, Major Alessandro Rinaldi. Afterwards, Henry is ordered to participate in the Italian offensive against Austria-Hungary in the Alps, where a falling mortar shell injures him. While recovering in a hospital in Milan, Henry has Catherine transferred to work in the same hospital so that they may continue in their budding love affair. Catherine soon discovers that she is pregnant, but the head nurse, Miss Van Campen, also discovers the couple’s duplicity and sends Frederick back to the war front, separating the two.
After the humiliating defeat of the Italians at the Battle of Caporetto, Frederick and Rinaldi must flee with the locals from the invading German and Austrian armies. Along, the long and arduous march, many people and even children are left to die on the side of the road. Rinaldi also starts to lose his mind, as he questions the entire war and starts doubting the Italian army. His words are overheard by soldiers in a local army base and the commandant assumes that Rinaldi and Frederick are both traitors, sentencing them both to death. Rinaldi is shot, but Frederick manages to escape by jumping in the river. He evades the police and finds Catherine. They flee to Milan, but realizing that they cannot stay for long, they must again flee to Switzerland by rowing across Lake Lugano. In Switzerland, Catherine delivers her child, but due to complications the child is stillborn and Catherine dies shortly afterward. The movie closes with Frederick walking aimlessly in the empty streets.
The story of A Farewell to Arms is set in the conflict of World War I. The war started on June 28th, 1914 with the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo. While America wasn’t in the war, Americans still felt the impact, as there were restrictions on travel, the stock market crashed before closing, and the import of goods from Europe was disrupted. It was only until April 6th, 1917 did America finally declare war when Germany resumed its submarine warfare. Congress passed the Selective Service Act which drafted four million men and these soldiers arrive Europe mainly just to help stop major drives by the German forces that threatened Paris. By the end of the war, more than 53,000 American soldiers died, a relatively small number compared to the losses suffered in WWII and the Vietnam War.
However, Frederick Henry doesn’t get involved due to a draft, rather through volunteering for the Red Cross, which was started by Clara Baron in 1881. Within weeks of the start of WWI, the Red Cross sent a ship to Europe with medical supplies and medical staff to help both sides of the war. After the Americans officially entered the war, the organization grew exponentially, with President Wilson as the honorary chairman. He urged Americans to volunteer for the organization to meet the needs abroad. In all, the Red Cross spent over $200 million in Europe, mostly on child-care and refugee work, and had over 31 million members.
While the movie diverts most of the focus from the war to the love story, it still has references to some famous events. Federick Henry is an ambulance driver sent to the Italian front, where there are a series of offensive battles at the border between Austria-Hungary and Italy in the Alps. Between June 1915 and March 1916, the Italian forces launched five separate assaults against the Austrians in the Isonzo region. While the Italians had aggressive officers and more men, the Austrians had the advantage of elevated positions. There were also a lot of weaknesses in the Italian army, so by 1915 more than 60,000 Italians, which was one fourth of the entire army, were killed. A stalemate was soon reached and war support in Italy went down. The peasants shunned the war, refusing to obey the draft and the number of deserters increased, peaking at almost 60,000 in 1917.
One of the worst humiliations for the Italians was the Battle of Caporetto in October 1917, which was depicted in the movie. German and Austro-Hungarian troops attacked the Italian army at Caporetto. Even though they had almost twice the manpower, the Italians were destroyed almost immediately and were forced to retreat. To make matters worse, the government collapsed and the prime minister and the military commanders were replaced.
Despite the lack of references to specific events in the war in the movie, it does portray the sentiment felt by soldiers and citizens during the effort. At the start of the war, Henry is asked why he volunteered to join the Italian army and he said that he wanted to “have a look” at what war was really like. Many of the volunteers and citizens shared this sentiment, as they never experienced a real war before. They all had a romantic and fanciful notion –not a realistic one. However, after the Battle of Caporetto, the soldiers undergo dramatic change. It was clear that Henry and his comrades were all suffering physically and mentally from the hardships. Rinaldi in particular displayed signs of PTSD, as he exclaimed, “what’s the use?” and “what good are we to Italy?” during the long, arduous retreat. On this retreat, the Italian army must escape with the regular citizens and in the movie, there are bodies littered on the sides of the road, lost children screaming for their mothers, and a mother even dropping her baby on the road from exhaustion. In addition, Henry is also traumatized when Rinaldi is unjustly shot for being a supposed German infiltrator. A Farwell to Arms painted a graphic and startling new insight of the realities of war.
When first viewing the movie, the stereotyping of gender roles becomes immediately apparent, as it was almost characteristic of Hemingway’s style. The author was frequently criticized for the “masculinity of his writing” and the perpetuation of female stereotypes. In the opening, the soldier’s attitude towards women is highly sexualized and inappropriate. The first encounter between Henry and Catherine is also seen as superficial, as Henry is drawn to Catherine by her looks. Catherine later says that she “will be anyone that [Henry] wants her to be” in order to reaffirm their relationship. As critic Frederic Busch notes, “Hemingway’s women too often seem to be projections of male needfulness.”
The plot in the movie is actually based on a real-life story: Hemingway’s life. Hemingway, like Frederick Henry, was an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in the Italian campaigns during the First World War. He volunteered in France before the entrance into war in April of 1917 and was later transferred to Italy at the start of July 1918. On July 8, 1918, he was wounded by an Austrian mortar shell, making him the first American to be wounded in Italy and a hero. Catherine Barkley was also based off of Agnes Von Kurowsky, a real nurse who cared for Hemingway in a hospital in Milan. However, there were also some discrepancies between Hemingway’s life and the story. Hemingway was only active with the Red Cross for 34 days and he never participated in the retreat from Caporetto, but it is portrayed so vividly in the book and the movie that even the Italian soldiers who were in the retreat couldn’t believe that Hemingway wasn’t there. Because of his negative experiences in the war, Hemingway’s was deeply shocked and traumatized. He “hated war and hated all the politicians whose mismanagement, gullibility, cupidity, selfishness and ambition brought on the war and made it inevitable.” These sentiments show in many of Hemingway’s war books, such as The Sun also Rises.
The publishing of A Farewell to Arms brought Hemingway into the limelight of the literary world, as it was his first best-seller. It also inspired an entire genre of war novels, such as James Salter’s The Hunters, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and James Ellroy’s LA Confidential. Biographer Michael Reynolds describes the book as “the premier American war novel from WWI.”
For a movie that is supposedly about WWI, it didn’t weave the events of the WWI or its effects well enough into the main story. The nature of the war was supposed to mirror what happened in the relationship. However, in most of the movie, a casual audience member never would have known that the war was going on, so the disconnect is extremely unrealistic. The ending deaths of the child and Catherine don’t seem like irony or a cruel reminder of the war period, but instead look like a hysterical mistake by the incompetent doctor. The director, David O. Selznick, also inserts too many scenic shots of sunsets, valleys, and natural scenery with no action, breaking up the tension in the main storyline. The main love affair itself, which apparently needs two and a half hours to develop, isn’t even established as natural. The pair’s sudden love seems forced and even slightly superficial. Overall, the movie, A Farewell to Arms, is neither captivating nor historically relevant, and I would not recommend it.
Review of Ernest Hemingway’s Book, a Farewell to Arms with the Illustration of Obscurity
A Farewell to Arms
There are many uses of symbolism in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Most of the symbolism is hidden so that the reader must fully comprehend the novel before realizing and understanding the symbolism. Could ‘darkness’ be one of the symbolism uses in this novel? Could ‘darkness’ represent something more than just being dark? Throughout the book, there are many examples of darkness, which Henry takes advantage of. “Night is “better”’ (page 13), Henry explains how during the night he parties, drinks, and has sex. “Hills dark in the sunset; attack starts at sunset” (page 46), night is coming; they are going to attack. Darkness is filled with unknown attractions. It expresses the power to surprise someone with anything you can imagine. Three important qualities of the novel one would have to understand to know about the symbolization of darkness are mood, setting, and danger. Knowing the mood will show the reader the feeling of the novel.
Henry, the main character, lives a tough life fighting in the war. There is tragedy behind every corner, which causes the story to have a feeling of despair. Moods of continuous boredom, disappointment, and apathy, with also a touch of fate twisted throughout all the depression, are the main outlooks. The feeling readers tend to describe as gloomy or a melancholy feeling, describing the horrors of war, turns tragic, as it details the problems of undergoing the extreme actions of attack. The mood throughout the novel is one of disappointment, dullness, and pain. Henry has a main part in experiencing these dreadful feelings of love, loss, and pain. He started as a ‘young’ man, knowing not much more than to party and drink, loving someone only for their lack of sensibility and giving in to his pressures of self-dishonesty, growing into a reliable and honest man, who falls deeply in love with a woman who is destined to have his child, only to die from her cesarean operation. Darkness, applying itself to the deterioration of the soul, seems harmless enough from a distance, but close up, it can be a very painful thing if one makes it to be. “Waiting in the dark for treatment outside the field surgical station” (page 56), this example of darkness in the novel explains how darkness symbolizes hurt and pain, either physical or emotional, leaving henry wounded and waiting in the dark for treatment.
During the time period of the novel, there was war going on between Italy and Switzerland; World War I, to be exact. The main setting of the story is Switzerland. Switzerland is the place where, after Henry falls deeply in love with Catherine once he has already gone through so many tough times in the past months, Catherine and he stay until their death. The novel was placed in the time frame of 1916-1918. Henry was one out of the many fighting for Italy, but none has quite the same story as he does as life in the war. Switzerland has many memories for Henry including where Catherine got pregnant with his baby and dies from her cesarean operation, and where he stays until his death, never to leave the side of his beloved. The time period during World War I was recognized as dark and depressing. This hints that darkness could symbolize the era of world war I or also simply as hatred and pain. These are 2 of the purest feelings during World War I especially between Henry and his companions.
World War I was a dangerous time to be living through, much less having to fight in the war too. Much of the actions taken place during this time was either fighting and shooting at other countries or drinking and partying, trying to forget what you are forced to live through. Henry followed both of these categories of actions. One might think of this time to be a dim reality of life, twined between the cruelness of war. This is where darkness comes into the novel once again. Loving Catherine Barkley changed Henry’s life forever. Leaving him with a love torn heart and a small child, two things a person can never replace.
Every mention of night is accompanied by a harsh reality of life, and with night comes darkness. Darkness includes hate, pain, truth, loss, and love; everything that makes life truly livable. One might not want these in life, but must contain every one to become real. Without hate, one would be too likeable. Without pain, one would think to be invincible. Without truth, one would be dishonest. Without loss, one would be spoiled and selfish. And Without love, one would be heartless. Although darkness can mostly be a daring thing to bring along with you through the journey of life, it can also be one of the best things to keep with you at all times.
“Farewell to Arms” review by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms features the numbing experiences of Lieutenant Federico Henry while serving in Italy during World War I. Despite serving as such a dismally despondent milieu, the war actually acts as a powerful catalyst.
In Chapter 4, Frederic Henry, an American, explains to Miss Barkley shortly after having met her that he is not really in the Italian army, but in the ambulance corps. When she presses him about why he joined the ambulance corps, he says, “There isn’t always an explanation for everything” (page 15). Later, in Chapter 5, when Miss Barkley presses him again, he explains that he was in Italy when the war broke out and he spoke Italian. His Italian is good, and it is also clear that Frederic Henry likes the Italian people and culture. Rinaldi says to him, “You are really an Italian…You only pretend to be an American” (page 57). Frederic Henry has close friends in the Italian army and clearly cares what happens to the country. In addition, at the point of the war when the book takes place, the Americans have declared war on Germany but not on Austria. Therefore, the Americans are just coming to where Frederic Henry is fighting and is wounded, and he could not have fought with the Americans in Italy at the time when he joined the Italian ambulance corps. The conversation between Frederic and ninety-four-year-old Count Griffin is illuminating and reveals some similarities between them despite the great difference in their ages. They talk easily together, and neither Frederic nor the Count hesitates to share thoughts and feelings quite openly with each other.
Like Frederic, who has made his own “separate peace” with the war and deserted from the Italian army, the Count thinks the war is “stupid”. Both men see war as never-ending. The Count explains that young nations win wars, after which they become older nations–implying that new young nations will then defeat them, a continual process. Earlier in the novel, Frederic had observed that “There is no finish to a war”, implying that a war really never ends because it leads to the next one. For both Frederic and Count Griffin, war is a stupid exercise in never-ending violence.
In his desperation and despair, he prays, but his prayers do not save her. Frederic stays with Catherine until she dies, and then demands time alone with her to say goodbye: But after I had got them [two nurses] out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn’t any good. It was like saying goodbye to a statue. After a while, I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.
And with this passage, the novel ends. It could be interpreted that love enables Frederic to stay by Catherine’s side throughout her suffering and even after her death, even though doing so causes him the most intensely emotional and spiritual anguish. He “survives” this experience in that he goes through it with her until it is over.
The identify of Frederick Henry in A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway’s celebrated novel, A Farewell to Arms, discusses the hierarchy of nationality, class, and power during wartime. Frederic Henry finds himself an American serving in the Italian army as an ambulance driver. The United States somehow becomes glorified in the eyes of the Italian population, and a sense of eminence is thrust upon Henry. He never fully integrates into the Italian army, nor does he wish to do so. Henry is decidedly separated, but more importantly, his nationality establishes for him a higher status. Henry’s character is influenced by his American citizenship. This progression is defined by the economic gap as well as his interactions with his Italian comrades and regular citizens.
Henry is modest, almost to the point of shyness. He refuses to be recognized for heroism after an explosion in Chapter Nine that takes the lives of three men. He is wounded as well, but “would rather wait,” for medical attention, as “there are much worse wounded” than he. An English doctor scoffs, “Don’t be a bloody hero,” and falsely informs the Italian hands that “he is the legitimate son of President Wilson (58).” This elevated status brings Henry to the top of the list for treatment. Later, Henry’s friend Rinaldi informs him, “Everybody is proud of you…I am positive you will get the silver.” Rinaldi tries to play Henry up in order to win him a medal, but again, Henry quickly changes the subject (63). Henry’s humility is apparent; whether he is inherently shy or embarrassed by misleadingly brought-on attention is unclear. His position as an American certainly facilitates things, but Henry still refuses to accept his separateness.
Though divided by nationality, Henry manages to become friendly with the Italians in his troop. While drinking one night in Chapter Twelve, they ask Henry to predict the course of events regarding the war. He speculates, while drunk, that the United States will declare war on nearly everyone. The Italians are open to hearing and accepting Henry’s theories, which demonstrates their trust in the American opinion. They tend to value Henry’s opinion over their own. Henry is referred to as “Signor Tenente,” Mr. Lieutenant, not out of anonymity, but out of respect. His title commands respect, as there are many positions below him. When he is brought to an American hospital, he is, interestingly, refused a room (80). Henry is clearly unfit, but perhaps now that he is in an official manifestation of his own country, he is demoted from a type of celebrity to an equal.
Henry’s interactions with common Italians are similarly insightful. He often requests alcohol while in the hospital, against the nurses’ orders. The porter fetches drinks for Henry regardless (84). In Chapter Fourteen, Henry receives a rude visit from an Italian barber. The porter misinforms the barber that Henry is an Austrian officer; therefore, the barber’s speech is snappy and blunt. After learning Henry is American, the barber is unquestionably embarrassed. The porter resurfaces in Chapter Thirty-three. He and his wife constantly ask Henry if they can do anything for him, offer him breakfast, but always refuse pay. He leaves the porter’s for his friend’s house, Simmons, to get civilian clothes. Simmons welcomes Henry into his closet. Henry is noticeably uncomfortable in the clothes; he confirms this in the first sentence of Chapter Thirty-four: “In civilian clothes I felt a masquerader.” Aviators in the same train compartment as Henry avoided looking at him, and were “very scornful of a civilian [his] age (221).” When Henry transforms himself into a regular Italian, he falls dramatically on the social hierarchy.
Money (lire) is also a noteworthy component of Henry’s elevated status. Henry maintains this by always tipping generously or offering money during appropriate events. He tips the stretcher-bearers in the hospital, though they drop him numerous times, and is repeatedly saluted.
The young girls whom Bonello picks up in Chapter Twenty-nine are dismissed with a ten-lira note, and they held the money tightly and “looked back as though they were afraid [he] might take the money back (188).” Though Henry willingly hands out money, he is often refused. As mentioned before, the porter and his wife are willing only to give and not take (218). During a particularly awful hangover in Chapter Twelve, Henry tries to tip a soldier who has brought him a “pulpy orange drink,” but the soldier just shakes his head (76). This speaks much for the Italian people, who (among other things) are portrayed as unselfish. This also could indicate that some Italians, though undeniably poor, are somewhat embarrassed by Henry’s wealth. Henry’s bountiful wallet secures America in its higher status.
Sometimes it seems as if Henry has a real interest in integrating into the Italian culture, but continues to keep himself separate, American. Henry’s character advances from a meek expatriate to a commanding American. As he becomes more aware of his status, he progressively embraces the power handed to him by his nationality. He begins to not only accept, but enforce his authority. The one time he is challenged by two sergeants in Chapter Twenty-nine, Henry shoots them. “You’re not our officer,” they say, but this does not convince Henry to back down. He conquers the opposition with a pistol (186), and reaffirms all perceptions of himself as an American expatriate in the Italian army.
An essay on the narrative structre of A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell to Arms, follows a distinct narrative structure. Each component of the plot – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution – is contained within a book. This definite sectioning allows the audience to follow and map the plot of the story.
The first book of the narrative contains the exposition, or introduction to the story. The protagonist, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, is an American serving in the Italian Navy during World War I. He is an officer working as an ambulance driver. Another central character, Catherine Barkley, is also introduced during this book. Catherine is a British nurse who volunteered to serve in the war. At this stage in the novel, the characters are in Italy, fighting to prevent the Austro-Hungarian forces from joining the Germans on the Western front. Although an initial conflict is not obvious, Hemingway emphasizes the scenery surrounding the war, suggesting that the war and Italy are central to the story line. At the end of this book, Frederic is wounded, and transferred to a hospital in Milan for x-rays and treatment. This shift in setting sets the stage for the next plot component.
The second book in the story encompasses the rising action. At this point in the story, Henry is in the hospital in Milan where he is told that he must wait six months before undergoing surgery. Feeling as though this recovery time is far too long, he meets with another doctor who agrees to expedite the process. In the mean time, Catherine is also transferred to the Milan hospital. At this time, the pair’s relationship becomes more serious and important to the story. Soon, the couple are deeply in love, and they spend most nights together. After many months, the time for Henry to return to the field approached. On one particular night, Catherine admits that she is three months pregnant, but insists that he should not worry on her behalf. The book ends with Henry on a train, returning to the front lines.
The climax of the story is contained within the third book. Upon his return to duty, Henry is instructed to go to the Bainsizza to take command of a fleet of ambulances. He spends the rest of the day catching up with old friends, and in the morning, sets off for his new command. The war is intensifying, and there are rumors that the Austrians have broken through the Italian lines. The next night, the Italian army begins to retreat, and Henry is instructed to leave the wounded soldiers and instead use the ambulances to carry hospital equipment. After spending hours on the road, stuck in an immotile caravan, Henry decides that if they are ever to make it to the fall back positions, the ambulances must take back roads. Almost to their destination, one of the ambulances gets stuck in the mud, and the group begins to hear bombing coming from the main road. Henry sees German soldiers and the group runs, although one soldier is shot in the process. Henry and the others spend the night in a barn. The next morning, they head for the Tagliamento River, and as they are crossing, a member of the police grabs Henry. He manages to escape by jumping into the river and eventually hopping a train. At the end of the book, he comes to the realization that he will not return to the army or see his comrades again, but comforts himself in imagining where he and Catherine will go once they are reunited.
Book Four follows the falling action of the story. The train drops Henry in Milan, where he changes into civilian clothing and learns that Catherine is in Stresa. In Stresa, the barman in Henry’s hotel offers to help Henry track down Catherine. He succeeds and sets off for her hotel. Catherine is with Miss Ferguson. The three share a meal before Catherine joins Henry at his hotel for the evening. The couple realizes that they must flee to Switzerland. A few days pass and one night, the barman warns that Henry is to be arrested in the morning. Henry borrows his boat and sets off. They row all night before arriving in Switzerland, and when they do, Catherine and Henry are arrested. The couple conceals their true identity and are released. They decide to continue onto Monetreux. This book concludes any lingering, major events and alludes to the final resolution of the story.
The fifth and final book of the narrative concludes in tragedy. Catherine and Henry spend many months together, happy, in Switzerland. As Catherine’s due date approaches, they move closer to the hospital. Early one morning, Catherine goes into a painful labor, and requires gas to lessen the intensity. Eventually, the doctor decides that a cesarean section is necessary. Henry does not want to go into the operating room with Catherine, and beforehand, she confides that she feels broken and may die. Catherine delivers a baby boy, whom Henry has no interest in. A nurse explains to him that the baby was a stillborn, and when Henry returns to Catherine’s room, he contemplates the finality and inevitability of death. The next morning, Catherine hemorrhages and fears she will die. She goes unconscious and continues hemorrhaging until she dies. Henry returns to her room to say goodbye, but finds little comfort in this. The story closes as he walks back to his hotel in the rain.
A Farewell to Arms follows a common narrative structure: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. He gives each component its own book, clarifying the plot and enhancing the story.
Ernest Hemingway: How His Life Affected His Writing
Ernest Hemingway was worldly known for his writing style that was composed of brief, straightforward sentences. Hemingway’s unique style eventually led to him being rewarded with the Nobel Prize in 1954. Not only was he known for his style of writing, but the main ideas used in his stories were from experiences he faced in his life himself and he just dramatitized them himself.
Some more novels that Hemingway wrote include: The Sun Always Rises, A Farewell to Arms, To Have and Have Not, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway’s decisions and things he underwent in his early life ultimately led to events that transpired in his later life.
Ernest’s father Clarence Edmonds Hemingway or Ed Hemingway started practice towards being a doctor and when he served his internship re-met his later wife, Grace Hall. Ed Hemingway was helping tend to Grace’s mother because she had cancer. Ed Hemingway and Grace Hall had previously seen each other when they went to the same high school, Oak Park High School. Their letters they sent to each other over a span of six years later led to their marriage in the year of 1896. Grace enjoyed playing music and later found herself teaching music to people. Ed Hemingway and Grace Hemingway had 6 children together, including Ernest. Ernest had an older sister, Marcelline, which was born in January 1898. Ernest also had three younger sisters and younger brother: Ursula, Madelaine or Sunny, Carol and Leicester. Ursula was born in 1902, Madelaine in 1904, Carol in 1911 and Leicester in 1915 (Dearborn 18).
Ernest’s mom, Grace Hemingway recorded things about Ernest as a child in his baby book, she would record things that Ernest did as a child that were special and embarrassing. There were photos of Ernest as a baby with his sister and it looked like they were twins and both girls. In that century, it was common for boys to wear girls clothes, but even after, there began to be differences in the clothes between boys and girls. Ernest’s mom still dressed Ernest in girl’s clothes. As a child Ernest was very close with his oldest sister Marcelline. Grace always treated his two older kids as twins, because she had always wanted twins. Not only did Grace dress up Ernest like Marcelline, but she wanted them to be in the same grade so she held Marcelline back a year. Ernest and Marcelline’s relationship were really close as they were children and continued to grow as they became older but their relationship soon became toxic as they reached adulthood. There were certain traits that Ernest pointed out in Marcelline’s personality that he didn’t like because they were the same bad traits his mother had (Dearborn 22).
Ernest’s parents bought a house on Walloon Lake in northern Michigan the year before he was born. A third of Ernest’s summers were spent at this Michigan lake house. This summer home had a big impact on Ernest as he was growing up and later on in his writings. Michigan is where Ernest experienced the fun in nature and the wilderness in the world. All the Hemingway kids were taught how to shoot a gun and the safety about them by Ed Hemingway, he taught them how to shoot an animal and catch a fish. While at the house on the lake the kids would always fish and hunt. Even though Ernest went to the house in his earlier years there were still consistent appearances of the Michigan house in many of his later works, but one major work that it appeared in was The Nick Adam Stories. The Nick Adam Stories were a group of short stories describing major events in Ernest’s life, from childhood to adulthood. Not only did the summers going to Walloon Lake help develop some of his writings, but I believe that it caused Ernest to have a liking for traveling to places and seeing the world (O’Connor, “When Hemingway Was a Young Fisherman in Michigan”).
As Ernest entered in as a freshman into Oak Park and River Forest High School, he wasn’t serious about English and actually had plans to become a doctor. After taking English classes and courses in writing, his plan began to change and he became serious about English. Marcelline and Ernest enjoyed reading magazines that came to their house and competed to see who could finish reading things first, like King James Bible. The later years in high school was when Ernest really began to grow an inspiration and love for writing. Two teachers influenced him extremely, Margaret Dixon and Fannie Biggs. Both teachers took a were interested in helping Ernest, but each helped him differently. Ernest was encouraged and motivated by Miss Dixon when he was beginning to write. Miss Biggs had an club that both Ernest and Marcelline were heavily involved in. Throughout the club, students would send in work and critique each other’s work with help from Miss Biggs. Miss Biggs was a big influence for Ernest to focus on the genre of short stories, but Miss Biggs was more influential to Ernest on his path to journalism. Miss Biggs’s journalism class was known for being ran like an actual newspaper office. Both Ernest and Marcelline were picked to be rotating editors for the newspaper. The editors were specifically chosen by Miss Biggs’s to write about different things in the newspaper. Ernest found that sports writing was the easiest for him especially since he played on a couple of sports teams in high school. Ernest’s passion for writing definitely started from high school and flowered into something amazing as can be seen in his writings. His teachers gave him the motivation and opportunity to further his English and writing skills in high school(Dearborn 37-38).
In Ernest’s senior year of high school, he started thinking about college. Ernest’s father wanted him to follow his sister, Marcelline, and attend Oberlin, but Ernest liked Cornell better. Ernest told many people that he was going to the University of Illinois, but Ernest’s interest in college disappeared and was more interested at working for the newspaper, The Kansas City Star. Ernest’s uncle Tyler helped Ernest get the apprenticeship at The Kansas City Star because he knew a writer at the newspaper. The newspaper gave Ernest a full-time job in the fall. Ernest was new to writing newspapers, but eventually, he became a very talented newspaper writer. Ernest had the job of interviewing people in a certain area of Kansas, through this he met many people and became more associated with the city. He was taught the rules of the newspaper and the rules happened to become the reason he was such a unique writer. Certainly, obtaining these skills early on in his life helped him because the rules he was taught at the newspaper was the style he was later known for (Dearborn 45-49).
During Ernest’s time at the newspaper he wanted to serve in the Great War. Ever since his senior year in high school, Ernest saw the societies’ shift to militarism. This patriotism drew Ernest towards the military life, and caused him to sign with the 7th Missouri Infantry of the National Guard. Ernest’s family was known for having bad eyesight and this caused for the U.S. Unit to not accept him. Luckily, for Ernest the American Red Cross was giving opportunities through ambulance driving in France. The Red Cross was actively recruiting because of the major defeats the Italians faced due to the Austrians. Ernest signed up and told The Kansas City Star he was leaving in April. Ernest made his way from Mestre to Fossalta, which would be the Red Cross base camp. Ernest would go from trench to trench handing out supplies to Italian soldiers. One day as Ernest walking out of the trench and the Austrians started shooting their mortars at them. The explosion caused soldiers to lie dead on the ground or cause major wounds to them. Ernest who had been badly wounded from the shrapnel, caused by the explosion, lifted a badly wounded soldier and walked to the Red Cross dugout. On Ernest’s last steps to the dugout his leg was shot by a machine gun, causing him to be unconscious in the trench. Red Cross drivers took Ernest to Fornaci where they would clean his wounds. For Ernest’s act of heroism, he was awarded The Silver Medal of Military Valor. Many different versions of Ernest’s story would surface. While in the Red Cross hospital in Milan, Ernest was trying to come up with a good fictional novel about his war wounds. Eventually, Ernest wrote, A Farewell to Arms, in 1929. A Farewell to Arms was a love story about a hero, Frederic Henry, and a nurse, Catherine Barkley, that while recovering from his wounds they fell in love. Just like in Ernest’s novel, Ernest ends up having a liking for a nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky while he was recovering from his war wounds. They spent time together, digging shrapnel out of his leg, sightseeing, and going to races at San Siro. While in the hospital, many have said that Ernest’s experiences had caused his personality to change from a fresh, boyish character to being self-centered. He thought of himself so highly by wearing his uniform with all of his medals and wounds stripes. Not only did this event that Ernest experience tremendously help his fan base later in his life, but it also changed Ernest as a person (Dearborn 59-68).
Ernest Hemingway’s early life seeded the origins for his great writing skills and success. From his experience in the wilderness that later led to his love for traveling, his teachers that sparked his inspiration for writing in high school, to his career in journalism that made him known for his unique writing style, to his near death experience that led him to writing an amazing novel. These are only a few examples in Hemingway’s early life that helped his success in his later life. Without these important events Hemingway experienced in his early life, I believe that he wouldn’t be nearly as successful and well-known today.