A Farewell to Arms
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.
The Legacy of Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 21st century. Best known for his novels and short stories, he was a very gifted author and war correspondent. He was awarded many prizes in his lifetime including, the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953.
His writing ability and uniqueness cannot be compared to any modern author we have today. Ernest Hemingway, an American journalist, short story writer, and journalist influenced the American literary scene by writers who consciously imitate his autobiographical style of writing and the impact his emotional life has on readers. Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park Illinois on July 21, 1899. He was the second child born to his mother Grace Hall Hemingway and his father Lawrence Edmonds Hemingway. Ernest grew up with four sisters until he was 15 years old when he got a much-desired brother. His mother, a religious woman, was active in church affairs and led her son to play the cello and sing in the school choir. Ernest came to admire his father, a physician, who taught him how to hunt and fish. In the summers, Ernest and his family enjoyed time in northern Michigan where he often attended his father on professional calls.
In high school, Ernest earned a popular reputation as a scholar and an athlete on the swim and football team. The beginning of his writing career began in the halls of his own school where he wrote the school newspaper called the Trapeze. Influenced by a popular author at the time named Ring Lardner, Ernest usually wrote humorous pieces. He graduated from Oak Park High School in 1917. Despite his success in high school, Ernest ran away from his home twice. Right out of high school, his first real chance to run away came in 1917 when the United States entered World War I. He was first denied entry into the military due to poor eyesight, which he inherited from his mother. Instead, he decided to get a job at a newspaper company called the Kansas City Star. Ernest wrote many short stories, short paragraphs, sentences, and comparisons. He was obligated to follow the companies guidelines, which helped him to develop his own personal, simple style of writing that would continue to influence millions in the future. He then volunteered for the American Red Cross as an ambulance driver in 1918.
While in combat, Ernest was badly injured by an exploding mortar shell. His legs were nearly blown off by the fragments and it required many surgeries to save them. Ernest received a medal from the Italian government because he was the first American soldier to be wounded in Italy since the start of World War I. During his recovery, Ernest met his first girlfriend named Agnes von Kurowsky. They vowed to spend the rest of their life together and even planned to get married once Ernest healed and moved back to the states. When the war ended in 1918, Ernest was eager to start his new life with Agnes in the United States. He moved back to his hometown only to find a letter from his girlfriend. She broke off the relationship and Ernest could not be any more devastated. He fell into a deep pit of depression. Moving back to the states was not as he was expecting because the excitement of Oak Park is nothing compared to the adventures he faced at war. Ernest lived about a year in his parents home recovering from the pain he experienced during the war. Hemingway soon found himself as a feature editor at the Toronto Star. Living in Chicago for work, he met the love of his life named Hadley Richardson. The two fell in love at first sight and exchanged wedding vows on September 1921. Shortly after that, Ernest received a promotion to work for Toronto Star in Europe. The couple moved to Paris, France where Ernest would experience the happiest years of his life.
One of Ernest Hemingway’s most renowned pieces of literature is A Farewell to Arms. This book is very much an autobiography of Ernest Hemingway himself. First published in 1929, A Farewell to Arms is set by an ambulance driver named Lieutenant Frederic Henry during the Italian campaign of World War I. It describes a love affair between Frederic and a nurse named Catherine Barkley. Frederic attempts to seduce Catherine, but is not looking for a serious relationship. His feelings grow for her when he is hit by a mortar shell and sent to a hospital in Milan where Catherine is working. Fredric spends the summer in the hospital, getting closer and closer to Catherine. After many months, Fredric’s knee heals and he is sent back to the front. A day after his leave, Catherine announces that she is three months pregnant. Fredric returns to his unit where he learns that Italian forces are under the threat of being defeated.
After the German troops began to break through the barricades, the Italians are ready to retreat. Fredric and a couple of other soldiers drive the ambulance and pick up a few lost sergeants and panicked girls. When they catch up to the other retreating soldiers, everything has fallen into anarchy. The police are taking people into custody for questioning but Fredric learns that, instead, they are being executed. The battle police take him in but, knowing this information, he escapes and jumps into the river. Fredric gets to a safe spot and then boards a train to go back to Milian. He reunites with Catherine for a while until he learns that he is about to be arrested.
The couple flees to Switzerland in a rowboat and comes to an agreement with the Swiss that allows them to freely stay in the country. The two lovers finally start their own, beautiful life for a couple of months. During the spring, Catherine goes into labor and the birth is much more difficult and painful than what was expected. She gives birth to a healthy, baby boy but dies of a hemorrhage later that night. Fredric struggles to say goodbye to Catherine and he and the baby walk back to the hotel in the rain. One of the biggest themes in this story is the depressing reality of how life at war actually is. Most people do not really think about how chaotic war can be. They don’t really expect the same team to kill other members on their side. The scene after the retreat proves this perfectly. The soldiers were outraged that they had to retreat from the battle so they began to execute the people who they thought was behind it, hence their own fellow soldiers. Another notable aspect from the story is that fact that it is in first person. The narrator is an omniscient narrator who tells the story in past tense. It can be thought of as a memorial to Catherine, the baby, for all the fallen soldiers, or a combination of the three. Ernest Hemingway cannot deny the fact that he was in war himself and much of the words in the book are about his own life-changing experiences.
Another distinguished story written by Hemingway is The Old Man and the Sea. Written in 1951 and published in 1952, it tells the story of Santiago, a Cuban fisherman who struggles to catch a fish after many years of bad luck. A young neophyte by the name of Manolin has been accomponing Santiago on his luckless fishing trips. He has been forbidden by his parents to fish with Santiago, but instead to fish with a more accomplished fisherman. Despite the fact, Manolin still visits Santiago and helps with the fishing gear. Santiago soon decides to go out into the middle of the Gulf Stream, confident that he will finally catch a fish after eighty-four days. The next day, he takes his boat far into the middle of the Gulf and sets out his line. Around noon, Santiago catches a huge fish that is surely a Marlin. Unable to reel it in with the size of the fish, he holds on the fishing pole for two days and two nights. The third day, the fish eases on the line and Santiago uses his last remaining strength to pull it toward the top of the water and kill it with a harpoon. He drags it into the boat and sets sail for home.
During the sail back, Santiago is visited by multiple sharks who are attracted by the Marlin’s blood. He kills off many of the sharks but they eventually overtake him and eat away all the flesh from the fish. Santiago finally arrives home and falls into a deep sleep. When he awakes, he finds an abundant amount of tourists gathering around his fish skeleton. One of the tourists measured the Marlin to be about eighteen feet long. Manolin is relieved to see that Santiago has returned home after worrying for many days. He brings Santiago the local newspaper and some coffee and the two decide to fish together again, as a team. Throughout the entire story, Santiago shows a great amount of perseverance. He does not give up after not catching single fish for eighty-four days. He never lets the fishing pole go when he couldn’t reel in the Marlin. And he tries everything he could to not let the sharks have his fish. Perseverance is a major character trait that our society lacks. If something is hard, most people will give up. They don’t want to try to do something if it is too hard for them.
Another major symbolism in this story is Santiago’s relationship with the natural world. He talks about the birds in the sky as if they were his friends, the sharks as personal enemies, and the sea as a woman. He justifies peoples actions by saying that it is what they are born to do. This symbolism shows a great amount of characterization about Ernest Hemingway himself. Hemingway expressed a great deal on how he felt about the world. He writes constantly about his opinions on the world and how people behave in the world. Hemingway, like many other authors, uses his writing as a platform to uphold the beliefs that he views as correct, reasonable, and fair. Ernest Hemingway, as successful as he was, fought a battle with mental health issues and depression that were never addressed by the people in his life.
When he was found dead in his Idaho home in 1961, his wife was very reluctant to accept that the actual cause of his death was by suicide. She insisted to all his family and reporters that his death was by accident. She claimed that he was cleaning one of his guns when his hand slipped on the trigger and accidentally shot him in the head. It took a couple months for Mrs. Hemingway to finally admit that her husband intentionally killed himself. His father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, was usually very strict and reportedly beat this children on multiple occasions. He was not very loving and caring as a father should be. While living in Florida, Ernest received the news about his father’s suicide. He admittedly blamed his mother as the cause of his father’s suicide which built up a bitter anger toward her.
After his father killed himself in 1928, Ernest wrote in a letter to his mother in law, I’ll probably go the same way. Pain suffered from childhood will haunt you through your entire life. Hemingway reportedly began to drink more and become more violent after the death of his father. Many suspect that the Hemingway family suffered from mental health issues. There have been at least five recorded suicides stretching over about four generations. Ernest’s father, siblings Ernest, Ursula, Leices, and his granddaughter Margaux. Ernest’s youngest son, Gregory, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, making him the third generation of male Hemingways to undergo the illness.
Ernest suffered from alcoholism and mood swings throughout his entire life. He attempted to ease his pain by writing, drinking alcohol, huning, and fishing, but eventually the overwhelming pain in his life caught up to him. His writing styles were usually very disheartening as a way to let out his painful moods and suicidal impulses. This style of writing moved the hearts of all Americans and inspired us to live a better life. Ernest Hemingway was found dead on July 2, 1961. He was 61 years old. There is no doubt that Ernest Hemingway shaped the way we see modern, American literature. He introduced us to new and innovative styles of writing. He was one of the most personal writers in history due to his autobiographical style of writing. Hemingway’s life has impacted millions around the world. Every person can find some way to relate to the life of Ernest Hemingway, from his love of the outdoors, his wife and family, his personal struggles, or even his writings.
Each event that happened in his life shaped him into the outstanding writer that we now know of today. Ever since his death in 1961, many authors have wrote about Hemingway’s entire life from birth to death. There is such of an abundance of information that comes from Hemingway’s life that nobody has truly gotten every detail perfect. No other author can ever compare to the uniqueness of writing that was Ernest Hemingway. Writers have tried to imitate his autobiographical style of writing, but have never succeeded in influencing the American literary scene as much as Hemingway has done. The legacies that Ernest Hemingway has left behind will never be forgotten.
Frederick Henry in A “Farewell to Arms”
The most compelling character in A Farewell to Arms was Frederick Henry. The main conflict he faces is his inability to choose between Catharine or serving the military. Henry is almost constantly at a crossroads.
He could be a peaceful, god loving man, like the priest, or have a pleasant disposition with an inclination to violence like Rinaldi. In the end, the only thing he worships is Catharine, and the only physically violent act he commits is killing the sergeant. He is a fully realized creation who is three dimensional and he feels real. He’s a deserter who drinks and lies, but he also wanted to do right by helping soldiers as an ambulance driver, and he almost never fights with Catharine. When he does finally fall in love with her for real, he feels guilty for treating her poorly, suddenly I felt lonely and empty. I had treated seeing Catherine very lightly, (Hemingway, 44). Her death only amplifies every slight he committed towards her.
A Farewell to Arms is written from a first person perspective. Frederick is an alcoholic, and heavily traumatized from both the war and the death of Catharine. This has the building blocks for an unreliable narrator, but as the book progresses Frederick admits to lying, and it allows the reader to trust him more. I had not killed any but I was anxious to pleaseand I said I had killed plenty, (Hemingway, 101). He even admits to things he thinks are shameful, like resenting the baby Catharine was pregnant with. The mood and tone swing wildly from Frederick’s despair, to domesticity with Catharine, and back to despair again. The use of weather to dictate the mood in a scene has the reader on edge whenever rain is mentioned, and lulled into a false sense of security whenever it snows. The emotional roller coaster has a strong effect on the reader. Hemingway writes with heavy dialogue, and it gives the book a more modern feel, but it comes at the expense of roundabout conversations that could have been much shorter. The dialogue between Catherine and Frederick feels more like a mantra in the beginning, as if by saying they only have eyes for one another, it would breathe some life into the game that they play. Their romance as a whole is unappealing, but it helps Frederick become more appealing. He views the war in a journalistic, objective way. In one passage his morning breakfast is held at the same thematic level as living through a bombing. That’s not to say it had no effect on him, but rather that he views it as something of a background hum in most of his life, rather than a catastrophic event.
The setting of A Farewell to Arms is spread out across Italy and Switzerland in the early 1900’s during world war one. All of the characters are in some way affected by this. A stable marriage isn’t something many of the soldiers can rely on, so they turn to the prostitutes. Having casual sex with no emotional connection leads Frederick to become immature when it comes to forming a romantic relationship with a woman. Rinaldi’s punishment is syphilis, and it is heavily implied that Catharine’s sex with Frederick outside of wedlock is the cause of her stillborn baby, and eventually her death.
Weather is an important motif in A Farewell to Arms. Typically, rain would be a harbinger of new growth, or it is equated to a baptismal thunderstorm. Snow is usually something to be feared, and is associated with hypothermia and death. Hemingway turns this on it’s head. The snow is what causes the fighting to cease, There will be no more offensive now that the snow has come,”” (Hemingway, 8). The rain is what must be feared. Catharine confesses that she sometimes has visions of Frederick dead in the rain, which makes the symbolism clear to the reader. Weather also plays a crucial role during Catharine’s labour. The fog in the mountains during their retreat turns to rain, a sense of foreboding arises. It rains through most of her operation, and the ray of sunshine that appears fades just as quickly as it came. When Frederick is told that Catherine has died from her hemorrhage, he walks back to his hotel in the rain.
All of the men in A Farewell to Arms fulfill the traditional role of war hardened men. They drink, they have sex, they fight, but they aren’t all caricatures of masculinity. Their depictions always come at the expense of their foil. Rinaldi’s prowess with women contrasts with the priest’s chastity, and the surgeon seems so capable because he has the three meek doctors behind him. Rinaldi is physically affectionate and cares deeply for Frederick. Eventually Frederick learns to love Catherine. The women on the other hand, often fill the role of either a prostitute or a nurse. They mostly abide by strict morals. Catherine offhandedly mentions that she feels dirty for having sex outside of wedlock, and Helen is scandalized when she learns that Catherine is pregnant.
Significant Theme of Love in “A Farewell to Arms”
In Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms, one of the most significant themes Hemingway emphasizes on in the novel is love. He showed this theme through the novel by descriptively describing Lt. Henry and Catherine Barkley’s relationship.
Although in book one of the novel, Hemingway’s view on love is very cynical. He expresses this cynical idea on love through describing Lt. Henry and Catherine Barkley’s relationship as a game where Lt. Henry must plan each action out like moves in a chess game to get what he wants from Catharine. Early on, Lt. Henry thinks he is playing this game alone. However, later in their relationship Catherine to his surprise reveals that she is also playing what she refers to in the text as a rotten game we play. This indicates that they both were playing a game with each other in which they were both trying to get something out of one another.
At first sight, Catherine Barkley was attracted to Lt. Henry, it was also the same attraction that Lt. Henry had for Catherine. After first meeting Catherine, Lt. Henry promised to come and see her every day or as often as he could, which is what he does. Them seeing each other leads to their somewhat fake relationship leading to a very serious and meaningful relationship over time. Lt. Henry’s leg injury later in the book also strengthens their relationship even more when he gets to see her again at the hospital in Milan after being moved there to treat and have his leg operated on. In fact, when he first saw her come into his hospital room, he described his feelings for her upon seeing her as I was in love with her, everything turned over inside of me. Given these feelings, the current state of Lt. Henry and Catherine’s relationship is very meaningful and strong.
Although Lt. Henry has been in many relationships over the years of his life, none of them have been prolonged enough or meaningful enough to him to be considered as anything more than the same game he plays with Catherine early on in their relationship. In fact, in the text he even states that I had never been in love with anyone and then again later in the text he states that I had not wanted to fall in love with her, but I had as he referred to Miss. Barkley. This shows that although he may have told Catherine differently, all he had wanted their relationship to amount to was nothing more than a game or as he describes it a good time. Despite his original plan, Catherine ends up being his perfect match and he ends up falling in love with her.
Catherine’s story on the other hand is much different from Lt. Henry’s. Prior to their relationship, we only know of one other relationship she had been in, which was with her deceased boyfriend. They had been engaged for nearly eight years until he was killed in a battle called the Somme. Although, Catherines view on their relationship seemed more serious even from the start, she too had been just looking for someone to play games with. However, as with Lt. Henry, she too eventually falls deeply in love with him and they soon become inseparable.
Ultimately, Lt. Henry and Catherine Barkley’s relationship has been through a lot of different things. Some of these, include the two of them being fake at first and Lt. Henry getting a horrible injury causing them to be separated for a while. However, given all these trials and tribulations, they seem to have only strengthened their relationship to become an unbreakable bond that will likely continue to grow as the text goes on and the plot develops.
Frederic Henry’s Traumas and Pain in “A Farewell to Arms”
As we know, PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, which is warfare for Frederic Henry in this novel. In A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry’s trauma and general breakdown in his life can best be understood in terms of PTSD, because it explains: his self-doubts and depression; his detachment from the other characters; and his inability to help himself. Throughout the novel, Frederic’s recollections show various catalysts for PTSD.
Even though Frederic tries to keep calm and forgot about the memories about the past which he suffered in the war, there are certain details flashback into his mind. Frederic Henry has been suffering with a condition of traumatized while he describe the story. Frederic constantly changes his identity because some shocked incidents he experienced such as the death of his wife, Catherine, died when she gave a birth and witnessing of terrible scenes during the war. Frederic describes he is tormented by a series of traumas because he participates in the Great War. Through Frederic’s experiences, seen through the current description of PTSD, the reader has a deeper understanding of the negative effects of war on the individual.
Frederic does not only receive physical wounds but he also memorized which he experienced in the war. Frederic indicates at least three occasions which makes him mentally scared and these contribute to his self-doubts later. Frederic witness a lot death of his comrades, after the first battle is, I sat up straight and as I did so something inside my head moved like the weights on a doll’s eyes and it hit me inside in back of my eyeballs. (Ernest Hemingway: P59) Frederic reveals his inner thoughts when he is looking at the dead body of his ally. Frederic must think of it a lot he can still keep such a deep memory for this particular scene, therefore suggesting he is traumatized from the terrible events that he has experienced and lived through. Frederic can also be suspected to be affected from the way he portrays how the dead bodies were treated. The drops fell very slowly, as they fall from an icicle after the sun has gone. (Ernest Hemingway: P66) After being recovered from the battle, it is clear that Frederic’s mind changed a lot, but he has to see soldiers stepping the dead soldiers’ body like garbage bags. This traumatize Frederic’s mind, as no one can keep calm while their dead friends’ bodies are being thrown out onto the roads, but Frederic shows no immediate react. He does not wish to recall the gruesome image which suggests that the entire ordeal still haunts him. Frederic proves how traumatized he is from the war as he is describing the ‘shelling’, and the series of bombings which is a tactic used during World War I that caused the condition he still has to this day .You saw the flash, then heard the crack, then saw the smoke distort and thin in the wind (Ernest Hemingway: P197) Frederic is good at describing the characteristics of these bombings, yet he never mentions either how unendurable the loud sounds are, or the gruesome scenes of soldiers torn up by the splashing bombs. Both things which are constantly mentioned by others when describing shelling. From his style of narration Frederic is not one who hides the bloody scenes found in a battle. If he does not mention it, Frederic must be still terrified of the shelling and does not want to provoke this particular memory within his mind while narrating. His use of this particular defensive technique of shutting down memories is caution from suffers of severe traumas, and it is clearly shown that Frederic received it from his experiences during the ‘Great War’. All of these examples lead to for the conclusion that Frederic is shell shocked during World War I, and the condition still haunts him while he narrates. These scars from war do not stand alone, as his constant change of identities which baffles him of who he truly is eventually causes permanent damage to his mind that inflicts just as much pain as war traumas.
Frederic’s constant change of identity scars him mentally and leads him to feel detached from the events taking place around him. The war causes so much change for him, which is also a part shows his PTSD symptoms, and he goes through at least two dramatic change: from being a soldier to a normal civilian, from being a free man to a wanted criminal. Frederic’s long experience in the army causes him to forget how to be a normal civilian, which impacts him psychologically. In civilian clothes I felt a masquerader. I had been in uniform a long time and I missed the feeling of being held by your clothes. (Ernest Hemingway: P260) Frederic had been so involved in the war he had become part of it, and once he stopped being surrounded by soldiers and guns, he suddenly felt lost. As if he does not fit in a civilized society to such an extent that even normal clothes feel odd on him. When Frederic narrates this scene, he can still remember this strong feeling, which could suggest he still carries that feeling while he is narrating, which can be a sign of the aftermath of serve experiences. If a person constantly feels as if he does not belong to where he is it may cause of low self-esteem and other side effects from. Frederic’s second change of identity happened even faster than the first one, as he transforms from a free man to a wanted criminal in less than a day. I dressed hearing the rain on the windows.
I did not have much to put in my bag. (Ernest Hemingway: P284) This sudden change can certainly provoke symptoms of depression within Frederic, as it has been only a few days since he was a proud soldier, and now he is wanted by the army. Frederic is lost, he does not know where he is heading, both in physically and mentally. The ‘rain on the windows’ is potentially symbolism used by the traumatized Frederic as he is narrating, for when he looks back at that particular moment, he is leaving the place that shields him from all the rain, which also can be seen as danger and trouble. Frederic’s constant changes of identity continue to torment him when Catherine dies. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died…it did not take her very long to die. (Ernest Hemingway: P355) This is the last and fastest transition Frederic goes through in A Farewell to Arms, and undoubtedly the most painful. From being a father-to-be to suddenly a widower in less than a day, Frederic must have been very confused. It is safe to assume Frederic will be afraid to face any changes in the future, as all the alterations he encountered within the book are always more shocking and negative than the previous, ergo he is traumatized by all the turmoil he receives while going through all three life changing events within A Farewell to Arms. While Frederic is narrating all these events, his loss of emotions proves that he is still suffering from the aftermath from all the changes he has gone through. Not only does the death of Catherine alter Frederic’s identity in life, it is also a huge traumatization for him that still frightens him while he narrates.
Frederic also is narrating while under traumatized by conditions partially due to the death of Catherine. He is mentally injured from this incident because of how he viewed Catherine’s dead body, his loss of reason and his reaction to Catherine’s death. Before leaving the hospital, Frederic says goodbye to Catherine’s body, and the way he described the interaction is crucial to the reason why Frederic is permanently traumatized from the death of Catherine. It was like saying goodbye to a statue (Ernest Hemingway: P355) Frederic loved Catherine, a fact he cannot stress enough. The final farewell towards Catherine’s body is an emotional event, yet when Frederic describes the scene he never mentions any thoughts that passes through his mind, and even more by saying ‘it was like saying goodbye to a statue’ Frederic means he carries no feelings toward Catherine’s body. This is a sign of mental trauma because Frederic has been through so much torment throughout the war, he no longer feels anything about death. The numbness he carries while narrating this scene is a symptom of shell shock, which is why Frederic narrates while being in a traumatic condition. Frederic’s damaged mind is revealed from his immediate loss of common sense after the death of Catherine. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. (Ernest Hemingway: P355) Frederic did not have to walk through the rain. He was allowed to stay in the hospital and spend some time with Catherine’s body until the rain passed. From his actions it seems as he just wanted to go back to the last spot–he and Catherine were together. The moment he walks into the rain, his last bit of sanity is lost, and he fully experiences the last shock that adds to his permanent traumatization that torments him even when he is narrating. Frederic hides all his emotions even while he is narrating. ‘No’, I said. ‘There’s nothing to say.’ (Ernest Hemingway: P355) Frederic explains the event of the death of Catherine without any feelings and emotions. I’m not brave any more, darling. I’m all broken. They’ve broken mw. I know it now. (Ernest Hemingway: P355) This is a sign of denial, which is a defense mechanism that comes from a severe trauma. Frederic is a veteran, so it is common for him to not want to show any weakness, however he does not mention a single word about how sad he is towards Catherine dying, which is unnatural. The only possible explanation for his behavior is he is highly traumatized and he either voluntarily or involuntarily chooses to close off all his emotions in order to appear to remain calm and sane. The above reasons show why Catherine’s death plays an important role in the permanent break down of Frederic’s mind.
The trauma is experienced by Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms has left considerable emotional scars that will shape his life and and the symptoms still haunts him when he is narrating the story. This can be seen from the way he describes his war experiences, the way he hides his emotions when going through the major events in the story and the way he loses common sense after Catherine’s death. However, he is helpless in understanding how this will affect him and he innocently that by simply returning to his homeland he can put all their behind him. This is not only his illusion but that he held by everyone else to at that time. In conclusion, when Frederic narrates the scenes of A Farewell to Arms, the recollections that he is bringing up still hurt him mentally as he suffers permanent traumatization from during the war, while he is going through the important memories and after Catherine’s death.
Hecht, Ben, and Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms: Screenplay. 1957.
Themes of Love and War in “A Farewell to Arms”
Theme is a literary element used in literature and has inspired many poets, playwrights, and authors. The themes of love and war are featured in literature and inspire authors to write wartime romances that highlight these two themes. Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms deals with the collective themes in the human experience such as love and the reality of war.
A Farewell to Arms is narrated from the perspective of Fredric Henry, an ambulance driver in the Italian army, and pertains to his experiences in the war. The novel also highlights the passionate relationship between Henry and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse in Italy. Henry’s insight into the war and his intense love for Catherine emphasize that love and war are the predominant themes in the novel and these themes contribute to bringing out the implicit and explicit meaning of the novel. Being a part of the Italian army, Henry is closely involved with the war and has developed an aversion to the war. Henry’s association with the war has also made him realize that war is inglorious, and the sacrifices made in war are meaningless.
Specifically, Henry wants the war to end because he is disillusioned by the war and knows that war is not as glorious as it is made up to be. The state of affairs and the grim reality of the war lead Henry towards an ardent desire for a peaceful life, and as a result Henry repudiates his fellow soldiers at the warfront. Henry’s desertion of the war is also related to his passionate love for Catherine. Henry’s love for Catherine is progressive and ironic. This love develops gradually in stages: Henry’s attempt at pretending love for Catherine towards the beginning of the novel, his gradually developing love for her, and finally, Henry’s overcome with the love and passion for Catherine. Hemingway has ingeniously used irony as a literary device in the novel to accurately depict Henry’s feelings for Catherine. Furthermore, an analysis of Henry’s disgust towards the war, the inglorious truth of war, Henry’s insatiable yearning for peace, and his progressive love for Catherine will highlight why the themes of love and war are the most significant themes in the novel. Finally, the themes of love and war are crucial in imparting the meaning of the novel since the key events in the novel revolve around these themes.
The initial chapters of the novel describe Henry’s disgust towards the situation of the war and his desire for the war to end. In chapter 7, Henry is reflecting on the war whilst sitting in his bedroom and is disillusioned by the circumstances of the war. Henry wishes that the Italian army had a Napoleon, so that the army’s victory in the war would have been guaranteed. Napoleon was a French military leader who had fought several wars, attaining victory in a majority of the wars. Gazing out of his bedroom window, Henry thinks to himself that even though he did not have anything to do with the war, and that he was safe from the dangers of war, he wanted the war to end. Henry is hopeful that maybe one of the Italian army’s enemies would give up and the war would come to an end. Along with seeing his desire for war to end, Hemmingway makes us perceive Henry as a hero which show war as a theme, they sketch him as an American who came to Italy to study architecture, speaks fluent Italian. Although he is not on good terms with the Italian Army.
They continue to support him bank-draft, he writes, he is commission as an army officer in Ambulance Corps and during this time he never disclose his reasons for joining. He is a man of various tastes; he likes sports, takes pleasure in guns, and is proud of his physical skills. Fredrick also enjoys good food and drinks (alcohol) and an abundant amount, he is naturally sympathetic to the working class but also to the aristocracy. He is also observant of relationship among men noting the tension in the officer’s mess or the problems of his Ambulance drivers, often appears passive and dislikes the officers teasing the priest but never intervenes and drifts from city to city and from bar to bar and women to woman during his first leave. It is Catherine who comes to his notice and he falls in love with her without wanting to do so. Henry becomes philosophical and starts reflecting on the futility of the whole human existence after falling in love with Catherine. It can be concluded that Henry impresses the readers as a convincing personality. The personality undergoes a consistent development. All of these characteristics of Henry’s allow us to see him as a Hemmingway Hero and which connects to the theme of war Henry’s character provides us in A Farewell to Arms.
After understanding where the Theme of War comes from in the novel, we also see the theme of love in the relationship between Catherine and Henry. The first time Henry sees Catherine he states for the first time, he is with a woman who is not a whore. This shows that for the first time in the novel, he is feeling true emotions. Henry says God knows I had not wanted to fall in love with her. I had not wanted to fall in love with any one. But God knows I had and I lay on the bed in the room of the hospital in Milan and all sorts of things went through my head but I felt wonderful and finally Miss Gage came in. Because of Catherine, Henry now feels like he has a purpose in life. He discusses the idea of starting a family with Catherine and leaving once the war is gone (115). Catherine likes the idea, but says no because if they were to get married, they would have to be separated until the end of the war. This shows that Catherine is beginning to think rationally and is beginning to move on from her deceased husband. Eventually, the two are forced to move to Switzerland because Henry is in danger of being arrested. Although they are being forced to move, this is the opportunity that they have been waiting for. It is a chance for them to start a family. For the first time in the story, the two are free from the war. They can now get married without any legal trouble or risk of separation. They plan to get married after Catherine has her baby (293) and then move back to America. If this were the case, it would bring Henry back full circle. Unfortunately, it does not happen. When Catherine has the baby, it comes out dead and she too dies. This causes heartbreak and shows truly how much Henry was in love with Catherine, creating the theme of love and the Romanticized War novel, which A Farewell to Arms has that feel.
As we read this novel, we realize the use of the literary element theme of Love and War, it is realized through the love that Catherine and Henry have, and the way Henry perceives the War and is just trying to get out of the war and say farewell to his arms as he escapes from being killed. In conclusion it is clear the themes of love and war are crucial in imparting the meaning of the novel since the key events in the novel revolve around these themes.
A Farewell to Arms Questions
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is a love and war novel about the love between lieutenant Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley, an English nurse. Love plays a critical role in this novel. When Frederic and Catherine first encounter each other, they immediately become invested in eachothers lives.
However, Catherine is skeptical about an incoming relationship because prior to Henry she was engaged to a soldier who tragically passed away at war. This event changed her perspective on love. She did not want to marry Henry because of what happened to her fianc?©, however, she did love Henry deeply and tried to do everything in her power to please him. Frederic slowly begins to fall in love with the English nurse. For example on page 41 the reader is able to acknowledge that he feels lonely without Catherine. Frederic said, I went out the door and suddenly I felt lonely and empty. I had treated seeing Catherine very lightly. I had gotten somewhat drunk and had nearly forgotten to come but when I could not see her there I was feeling lonely and hollow. The couple become infatuated with each other and fell completely in love. Frederic did not plan on finding love at first, he did not like commitment and was more a player and a drinker. He was very surprised when he fell deeply in love with Catherine. On page 93 he states, God knows I didn’t mean to fall in love with her.
The love that Frederic had for Catherine came with a lifestyle change and brought order to his life. Love made the couple do courageous things for one another. Such as long distance while Frederic is away at war. Also Catherine was deeply brave when it came to being apart for many years and knowing that her loved one could be in danger. However, their love for eachother grew stronger and stronger. The love that the two shared for one another changed their perceptions of war in a drastic way. For example, the couple ran away together to get away from the fighting war. Frederic only cared about Catherine and their baby that was on the way. Frederic never liked the idea of war or fighting in it, however, after meeting and falling in love with Catherine, he disliked the idea of war even more. On page 49 Henry states, I believe we should get the war over. it would not finish if one side stopped fighting. It would only be worse if we stopped fighting. The couple just wanted to get away from war. The war shaped the couples love story. If it was not for the war, Frederic and Catherine would not have met and fell in love. Because of the war, their love story had many ups and downs and was very chaotic and challenging. The couple went through long distance, went without seeing each other for years, and went through danger together. The war taught the couple to love one another through any challenge that came their way like rowing away in a boat while pregnant and being away from each other for years.
The war shaped their love story as the amazing, challenging, and loving love story that it was. 2. F. Scott Fitzgerald was and still is a very popular American fiction writer. However, he believed that Catherine’s character was a weak link in this novel. Critics think that Catherine is not fully believable for the reader. Fitzgerald said, Catherine was the weak link in A Farewell to Arms and I think I’m inclined to agree. She seems to be slightly unnatural, maybe a bit one dimensional. What is she really like? I have no idea. Fitzgerald thought that the readers couldn’t understand who she really was because she was too willing to please Henry. For example, Catherine did not have any religion and she told Henry, You’re my religion. She wants Henry to know that he is all she believes and cares for. Catherine was always trying to please Henry and to not make him have any troubles or go through much work. For example, when she was pregnant as told Henry, I’ll try and not make any trouble for you. I know I’ve made trouble now. But haven’t I always been a good girl until now? She did not want the pregnancy to trouble and worry Henry. This quote shows how much Catherine wanted to please Henry. Hemingway portrays Catherine as a caring English nurse who has gone through a tragedy a while back. She is also portrayed as a very brave woman. Catherine traveled to many different countries to cure patients.
She works tirelessly, especially during her pregnancy taking care of injured or ill soldiers. She also was able to row a boat while being pregnant and without complaining. For example, she offered to row the boat and said, Nonsense. Rowing in moderation is very good for the pregnant lady. She was a very brave and strong person. She was formally engaged to a soldier who tragically passed away at war. This dismal event changed Catherine into a mature, independent women who knew how to handle disappointing and sad changes in life and who was able to unknowingly change Henry’s player ways. Catherine’s past experiences with engagement made her decide that she did not want to get married to Henry. She thinks that being married to Henry would keep them from being together during the war. According to Catherine they did not need to get married because We’re really married. I couldn’t be any more married. Catherine felt that they were already married and they did not have the need to do the real thing. Also her last experience of her fianc?© is what is keeping her from marrying Henry. I do not agree with Fitzgerald’s opinion of Catherine’s character being a weak link in this novel. I disagree because Catherine is just trying to please and take care of Henry because of all the love she has for him and because she does not want to lose another loved one like what had happened to her fiance.
She is a very brave and strong character in this novel. She can handle disappointment and is very independent when she needs to be. 3. In this novel, A Farewell to Arms, foreshadowing plays a very crucial role. It especially plays an important role in the outcome of Henry and Catherine’s life. Foreshadowing is a writing technique used to help the reader anticipate the outcome of an situation. Hemingway uses setting and foreshadowing techniques to make the readers feel the suspense about what is about to occur. In this novel foreshadowing can be interpreted in many different ways and there are many examples of it in this novel. In this novel, Hemingway subtly signaled the reader, using foreshadowing, that Catherine was going to die during childbirth. This changes the reader’s perspective and approach when they reach the ending of the novel. On approaching the final chapters, the readers can interpret that something bad is going to happen to Catherine.
There are many examples of foreshadowing throughout this novel. These examples help the readers infer what will happen in the upcoming chapters. Throughout the novel Catherine kept on insisting that’s she is afraid of the rain. She tried to deny it, however, she knew she was terrified of it and she could not deny it. In chapter 19 she states, It’s all nonsense. It’s only nonsense. I’m not afraid of the rain. I am not afraid of the rain. Oh, oh, god, I wish I wasn’t. While reading this quote, the reader can feel how scared Catherine is of the rain. She believe that should would see herself dead in it. For example, on page 129 she told Henry, I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see myself dead in it. This quote foreshadows the upcoming event of her death. After Catherine and her child die, Henry walks out of the hospital and walks home in the rain. In the last chapter of this novel it is stated that 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. Catherine’s thought of seeing herself dead in the rain mostly came true because she died while it was raining. Catherine also stated that she has lost many loved ones prior to meeting Henry.
This fact from Catherine’s life made the reader predict something bad was going to occur to the couple. Another form of foreshadowing is Catherine always telling Henry and saying that terrible things were going to happen to them. The feeling of melancholy is permeated, or spread out, throughout the novel. This feeling affects the readers perception of the story, the characters, and the outcome. This feeling of complete sadness that roams through the novel when u read makes the reader infer that an unhappy and sorrowful even will be coming up. It changes their views on the story, characters, and outcome because it gets the readers prepared for a sad ending. If this novel did not have the melancholy feeling that Hemingway portrays, then the readers would not be prepared for a sad or disappointing outcome. Hemingway provides the readers with hints of the finals chapters by foreshadowing and using the feeling of melancholy to make the tragic event of Catherine dying in childbirth predictable.
Gatsby and Henry: Obsession Viewed in Two Different Lenses
Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby revolve around one primary character who serves as a vessel that reveals the major theme of the book. The Great Gatsby chronicles Jay Gatsby’s pursuit of love, while Farewell to Arms is the story of Frederic Henry, a man caught in the midst of love and war. Both Fitzgerald and Hemingway portray these characters, respectively, as detached individuals absorbed by one ideal, but each writer does so in his own distinct style. Fitzgerald exposes Gatsby in a sensual, poetic manner primarily through intricately woven prose. Hemingway, on the other hand, reveals Frederic’s character in a realistic and concrete sense through a combination of literary elements such as dialogue, structure, and form, and through events that transpire in the book. The two authors’ styles are revealed immediately upon the introduction of each character in the novel. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald describes Gatsby as a man who had a “heightened sensitivity to life” but at the same time was so detached from everything that during the lavish parties he threw he “[stood] alone on the marble steps looking from group to group with approving eyes” (Fitzgerald 6, 54). Here, it is immediately established that Gatsby had a sense of vitality within him that did not involve the hedonism and pleasure he surrounds himself with and he himself perpetuates. Furthermore, Fitzgerald describes Gatsby’s smile as one having “an eternal quality of reassurance,” but despite this no one interacted with him, “no one swooned backwards on [him] and no French bob touched [his] shoulder” (52, 55). Through the paradoxical description of Gatsby using poetic and unconventional diction, Fitzgerald establishes an impression of Gatsby that provides the reader a glimpse of his aloof, yet absorbed personality, that persists throughout the book.Hemingway introduces Henry’s character in a different way. The story is written from Henry’s perspective; therefore, there is no explicit or formal description of Henry’s character. Instead, the reader obtains pieces of information through the events that occur at the beginning of the book and the way in which they are constructed. Hemingway gives the reader a deeper glimpse into Henry’s personality as he reveals Henry’s thoughts while he was drunk: “I had gone to no place where the snow was dry and powder [but instead] to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled…” (Hemingway 13). This line serves two purposes. First, it reveals Henry’s guilt over choosing a hedonistic escape over a spiritual one. As Henry describes how he “felt badly” and “could not understand why he had not gone,” Hemingway reveals the slight moral conflict that occurred within Henry as well as how he lacked structure in his life (13). Later on, this lack of structure will result in his strong reliance on Catherine. By revealing the aimless way he lived his life pre-Catherine, Hemingway enhances the importance Henry placed on their relationship. Also, this line reveals how Hemingway employs structure to reveal Henry’s mindset: Henry’s fragmented thought pattern while he was drunk was reflected in the disjointed sentences and words in the passage. In contrast to Fitzgerald, Hemingway uses very simple language-straightforward and concise-in revealing Henry’s thoughts and emotions. He also employs structure to reveal a facet of his character’s mind that is raw and uncensored. Both Fitzgerald and Hemingway provide the reader with glimpses of their characters’ detachment right from the beginning, but Fitzgerald does so in a way that is poetic and emotional while Hemingway accomplishes the task by providing realities such as events and thoughts from which the reader can draw conclusions.Fitzgerald and Hemingway continue to develop their characters throughout the book through various, distinct ways. Fitzgerald reveals Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy numerous times and conveys this obsession to the reader via the character Nick, the narrator and a character who observes the events as they occur. As the book progresses, the reader sees just how much Gatsby loves Daisy, how he was so “consumed by wonder at Daisy’s presence” that he “revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes” (Fitzgerald 97). Nick’s observations provide the reader with a sense of just how enamored Gatsby was with Daisy while Fitzgerald’s lyrical articulation of these observations invokes relative feelings in the reader. Similarly, Hemingway develops Henry’s character much like Gatsby in a sense that both characters’ lives were dominated by one thing: their love for a woman. Henry’s devotion to Catherine is evident in his conversations with where he says that he wants her to “ruin him” and when he repeatedly says that “if [she isn’t] with [him], [he] hasn’t a thing in the world” (Hemingway 250 257). The frequency of these conversations and thoughts of how “he felt faint from loving her so much” reveals to the reader the intensity of Henry’s love for Catherine. Hemingway does not dwell on description to convey the characters’ emotions; instead, he states these emotions directly via dialogue and insight into the character’s minds. Henry’s love for Catherine is reminiscent of Gatsby but each character’s love is exposed in different ways – Fitzgerald’s style is elaborate and poetic, while Hemingway’s is straightforward and realistic. As the stories of both characters conclude, their respective decisions to commit themselves to one sole ideal and disconnect themselves from everything finally takes a toll on them. In The Great Gatsby this toll may first appear to be Gatsby’s death, but upon deeper inspection, that which most affected him was the crumbling of his dream-his loss of Daisy. Even though “the dead dream fought on… trying to touch what was no longer tangible,” Daisy “[drew] further and further into herself,” leaving Gatsby with nothing despite having invested everything (Fitzgerald 142). Gatsby’s death was actually a fitting conclusion to the end of his enormous dream. Fitzgerald reveals how Gatsby “paid a high price for living too long with a single dream” through Gatsby’s eventual corruption and the vivid, profound, and slightly elegiac description of it (167). Henry’s story ended on a tragic note as well, and his fate and Gatsby’s bear a slight resemblance to each other. Both men were left with nothing in the end because they invested everything they had on one thing. When Henry abandoned the war, he did not do so solely for Catherine; however, he poured all his attentions on her, including that which he had already committed to the war. To Henry, “all other things were unreal” except for him and Catherine (Hemingway 249). As Catherine approached death, Henry rambled in his head: “And what if she should die? She won’t die…yes but what if she should die? She won’t die” (320). These lines reveal the vague distortion in Henry’s head and, once more, Hemingway’s style of reflecting the characters’ thoughts in the novel’s structure that provides the reader with an explicit view of what is in the character’s head. Upon Catherine’s death, Henry left her as though leaving a “statue”, then “walked back to his hotel in the rain” (332). Henry being emerged in the rain, a clear symbol of death and grief in the novel, represented the tragedy and pain he was immersed in. Now that Catherine was nothing but sort of a “statue,” he had nothing and was left purposeless. Although the sad ends of Gatsby and Henry occurred in different ways, both are similar in the sense that they were left empty and unfulfilled. Fitzgerald reveals this emptiness through the personification of the death of Gatsby’s dream, metaphoric language and elaborate prose, while Henry enhances this emptiness through the way Henry’s distraught mindset is written and the concluding visual of Henry in the rain. All in all, both Fitzgerald and Hemingway effectively portray their characters as individuals so overly dominated by love that they were no longer in tune with reality. Through each author’s unique style, however, Gatsby and Henry emerged as two clearly distinct characters developed in two different ways: Gatsby in a poetic and emotional one and Henry in a realistic and straightforward manner. As both characters are unraveled in their respective novels, the reader finds himself engrossed in the characters because of their multi-faceted personalities enhanced by each author’s individual style.
Escape Via Love and Intoxication
In Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, love and intoxication are closely tied to the even grander theme of escape. Although escape is a greater driving force, it exists in its connection to these other themes. This complex relationship is found not only in Hemingway’s use of action and language, but also in the minds and philosophies of most of the major characters. Escape seems a natural preoccupation in a state of war. Hemingway makes it the founding principle in such a situation, and focuses on what is escaped to rather than the skeleton of a war being fought in the meantime. Time and time again, love and intoxication appear in this capacity.Hemingway creates a strong foundation for this relationship in the action of the novel. By presenting characters in the face of a universally threatening situation, there is an understandably survivalist tone in the attitude of his characters towards the war. Escape as a driving theme is a product of this subtle tone. The war is avoided in conversation, in thought, and eventually in participation when Henry and Catherine desert their roles in its development. Both of these characters have also left their homelands behind, and Henry especially has several scenes of physical escape in the story. It is particularly significant that he loses his leave in Milan, because he is actually accused of consciously using alcoholism to escape the front. (144) But beneath the larger, more obvious events of escape in the novel, love and intoxication become the everyday vessels of avoidance. It is crucial that both exist simultaneously for Henry to survive this war.Intoxication and love bear similar characteristics in the novel. Henry’s thought that “the thing to do was to be calm and not get shot or captured,” (212) is representative of the motivation behind all the hedonism and escapism of these characters. They are patiently escaping the war every day in subtle ways. These methods of avoidance involve concentrating on units of the erotic. Hemingway weaves these sensuous moments together in what Professor Fisher calls a “narrative of omission.” This style itself is symbolic of escape. The author’s distinctly modernist goal of representing full moments of experience leads him the center a reader’s attention away from the war. The story is told in a series of erotic moments, all avoiding the horrifying reality of war that should be more central. These moments are especially subtle when they are made “calm” in the forms of love and intoxication.The idea that these are calm sensations is unique to Hemingway, and unique to the context of the novel. In the opening pages, Henry is already “[sitting] with a friend and two glasses,” (6) an arrangement he is found in too often to be called simple social ritual. Rinaldi later classifies this systemic numbing with alcohol as “self-destruction day by day.” (172) It is extremely important to note that the intoxication of this novel includes the consumption of food. Hemingway’s descriptions of eating are strangely sensual, almost drunk in their labored hedonism. He relates the scene of a group of men eating pasta with no forks:I lowered it into the mouth, sucked and snapped in the ends, and chewed, then took a bite of cheese, chewed, and then a drink of the wine…They were all eating, holding their chins over the basin, tipping their heads back, sucking in the ends…Something landed outside that shook the earth. (54)In this case, the men experience a specific erotic sensation with war actually raging in the background. A less obvious juxtaposition of this nature can be found in an interaction between Henry and Rinaldi. Having just been reunited, the two men relate on a level personal enough to be called erotic, with the pet names “baby,” and even Rinaldi’s demand of “kiss me once and tell me you’re not serious.” The eroticism runs parallel to the consumption of alcohol, justified by Rinaldi with “this war is terrible…Come on. We’ll both get drunk and be cheerful…then we’ll feel fine.” (168) The sensuality of this exchange is even embodied by alcohol, as the clinking of cognac glasses provides a substitute for sexual consummation. This is a successful escape, as these two men are coping by both loving each other and becoming intoxicated.Through his feelings for Catherine, Henry comes to understand the importance and difficulty of truly escaping pain. With the necessity for avoidance an accepted state, the lovers are always escaping to each other and escaping together. This activity drives their relationship, from beginning to end. The reader is introduced to Miss Barkley when Henry first hears of her, from Rinaldi. She is immediately, though subtly associated with escape in the language of this moment. When Rinaldi ends his speculation that “Every week some one gets wounded by rock fragments….Next week the war starts again,” with “Do you think I would do right to marry Miss Barkley after the war of course?,” Catherine is established as a way out of the horror and atrocity. When Henry visits her alone for the first time, he has to be reminded by the head nurse that “there’s a war on, you know,” only to “[say] I knew.” (23) This too establishes the nature of their relationship very early in the novel, for both Henry and the reader. In this first meeting, he even responds to Catherine’s hope that “we do get along,” with “yes,…And we have gotten away from the war.” (26) This is in the beginning stages of their love affair, when their interaction still falls in the category of intoxication. Henry does not yet realize that this is not enough.What is at first an indulgent escape from reality develops into a more serious love as the war gets closer and closer to the characters. Initially, Henry incorrectly diagnoses his relationship with Catherine as simply “better than going every evening to the house for officers where the girls climbed all over you….”(30) At this point, he has not realized the capacity of love in running from the larger dilemma at hand. He has yet to understand the powerful role Catherine already plays in his experience at war. It is only when she is not there one night to provide this necessary escape that he understands he “had treated seeing Catherine very lightly.”(40) He now sees that his “nights when the room whirled…when you knew that that was all there was, and the strange excitement of waking and not knowing who it was with you, and the world unreal in the dark and so exciting that you must resume again unknowing and not caring into the night, sure that this was all and all and all and not caring,”(13) were inadequate. Simple intoxication is not enough when there is not also love. Henry survives the war by understanding the necessity for something worthy of escaping to, and being lucky enough to find this in Catherine.Escape not only drives the love affair, but also describes its nature. When they are reunited in the American hospital in Milan, Catherine sneaks into Henry’s room every night. This act in itself is a small escape. In the details of their interaction, such minor examples of fleeing are frequent. Right away, Henry is asking “isn’t there anywhere we can go?,” (30) and complaining “I wish there was someplace we could go.” (31) Catherine says “I wish we could go for a walk,” (102) to get out of the hospital room in Milan. Even in an instance when they escape the monotony of hospital life with a day at the races, they need to get away from their group of friends for a moment. (132) Somehow, their strange relationship grows constantly by new escapes. When announcing her pregnancy, Catherine asks “you don’t feel trapped?,” to hear “Maybe a little. But not by you.” (139) It is precisely this ability of Catherine’s to avoid trapping Henry that makes her the perfect escape, and even secures his love.It is fitting that the central force behind this entire narrative is the desire for freedom, even for a touch of chaos. Hemingway strives to write a war novel that escapes the horrors of war. He succeeds in doing so by establishing two interactive and necessary factors in Henry’s experience of war. There is the absolute necessity for numbing, for any narcotic, that drives the rampant alcoholism. On a deeper level it sets a standard for the strange, almost drunk moments of dialogue between Catherine and Henry. The ending of the novel is itself a final escape. Henry had run to Catherine and found an equal balance of love and intoxication to carry him through the war, and even through escaping the war. But he never displays love for or interest in the child he has created. Catherine too seems to view her pregnancy as a disgusting and annoying state. Thus, the tragic ending provides a final flight from reality. There will be no impending responsibility or hardship to demand structure in this relationship. Even the inevitable consequence of nature is avoided. But this time, Henry has only his sorrow to drown in as he grasps freedom.
Superstition Versus Religion and Its Parallels to Love as Seen Through the Relationship Between Catherine and Frederic in A Farewell To Arms
The romance between Frederic and Catherine in A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway parallels humanity’s struggle between superstition and religion. Their relationship starts merely as a façade based on physical attraction, but quickly grows into a deeper love. At its commencement, Frederic and Catherine feel the need for something substantial to cling to in the rapidly changing world around them. They assume that they are in love, much as people in any society cling to their superstitions in times of great difficulty, not truly grasping the fundamentals of the religion on which those superstitions are based.According to Reverend John Nicola, a renowned authority on Catholicism and an adjunct professor of theology at Yale University, superstition “ignores the findings of science, seeing empirical reality as shallow and meaningless; it focuses on unseen spiritual realities,” and interjects “irrational fears and senseless preconceived notions.” On the other hand, religion “incorporates spiritual dimensions of reality through theological and philosophical considerations.” A superstitious person uses a ritual or symbol that denotes an aspect of his religion as an integral piece of worship, when in fact it remains only a small part of that religion. In this way he never takes the time to gain a deeper understanding of what that rite represents. In context, the Italian society does not understand the war. Its people use superstition to ease their fears about the death that surrounds them. They focus on one aspect of the religion and use that to ward off any ill-fated events, choosing to ignore any real religious basis.The fact that their relationship is founded in the heart of a war, as well as that it is constantly faced with the imminent possibility of death, pushes Frederic and Catherine into a romance that neither would necessarily have had under different circumstances. While Italy is changing around them, they use each other to shield themselves from the fear of the unexpected tomorrow. The couple develops rituals in conversation and interaction. Often, Frederic will make a statement then Catherine will follow it. He will repeat himself, each time letting Catherine say something different. One such conversation begins with Frederic saying, ” ‘Maybe I won’t talk.”That’s true, often people don’t talk.”I won’t talk.”Don’t brag darling. Please don’t brag. You’re so sweet and you don’t have to brag.”I won’t talk a word.'” (104)This ‘ritual’ allows them to have a unique method of interaction, spurring their romance on, but also, they use it to block out the rest of the world. They use their rituals to allow themselves to feel that life is continuing as usual much as superstitious worshipers use their superstitions to supplant their true religions. Catherine starts off as one of these; she gives Frederick a St. Anthony medal to keep him safe. She has no concept of the medal’s religious significance, only that it can be used to make herself feel better about the outside world. In a conversation with Frederic, Catherine says, ” ‘You see, darling, it would mean everything to me if I had a religion. But I haven’t any religion.”You gave me the Saint Anthony.”That was for luck.'” (116)Her insistence that the medal has no actual religious meaning to her is contradicted by its offerance as a good luck charm. Though she bestows upon the item some form of power, she does not understand its application to religion. This relationship of superficial understanding versus deep comprehension can be noted in her association with Frederic as well. At first, she uses a ‘romance’ as an escape from the hardships of the war, but eventually it grows into a intimate devotion. Throughout the novel, Catherine slowly ebbs away from her already weak religious beliefs, and turns to her developing love for Frederic instead. She replaces her already shaky convictions with her more tangible feelings for him. Because of this alteration to her perceptions, she is able to understand herself, and so her romance is transformed into her religion. Frederic says to her, ” ‘Then nothing worries you?”Only being sent away from you. You’re my religion. You’re all I’ve got.'” (116)Through Frederic, she grasps the true purpose of religion; she gives up the superstitions she no longer needs in exchange for her love with Frederic. He, though, is more reluctant to put away his superstitions. He insists “I knew I did not love Catherine Barkley nor had I any idea of loving her. This was a game, like bridge, in which you said things instead of playing cards,” (30). Nevertheless, he learns, as well, that there is more to spirituality than St. Anthony medals and rainstorms. He eventually does fall in love with Catherine, just as she falls in love with him. Because neither Frederick nor Catherine needs protection from his or her fears any longer, (love is enough) they forsake the unnecessary accoutrements that bog them down. Not until Catherine is in the hospital dying does Frederic really give over, though. It is there that he breaks down and prays. And finally, he has reason to pray. He prays for Catherine’s life. “I knew she was going to die, and I prayed that she would not. Don’t let her die. Oh, God, please don’t let her die. I’ll do anything for you if you won’t let her die. Please, please, please, dear god, don’t let her die.” (330) Unlike his prayers before, which were never founded in any real expectations of reciprocation, he bares his deepest desire: that Catherine should live. At that moment he finally understands religion.A Farewell To Arms contains a theme that is symbolic of a common human condition. People often accept situations at face value, and refuse to delve deeper into the meanings behind them. This keeps us from knowing life, where nothing is what it seems, and deeper comprehension must be sought to truly embrace any idea. Despite great tragedy, both Frederic and Catherine have an opportunity to realize their love for one another, and through it subrept themselves, elucidating the meaning in their lives.