A Farewell to Arms
Author: Hemingway, Ernest
A Farewell To Arms - Ernest Hemingway
The story is set during world war 1 on the Austrian-Italian border. Lieutenant Frederic Henry is a young American He is an ambulance driver serving in the Italian army. At the beginning of the novel, the war is winding down with the onset of winter, and Henry arranges to tour Italy. The following spring, upon his return to the front, Henry meets Catherine Barkley, an English nurse’s aide at the nearby British hospital and the love interest of his friend Rinaldi. Rinaldi, however, quickly fades from the picture as Catherine and Henry become involved in an elaborate game of seduction. Grieving the recent death of her fiancé, Catherine longs for love so deeply that she will settle for the illusion of it. Her passion, even though pretended, wakens a desire for emotional interaction in Henry, whom the war has left coolly detached and numb.
The novel is primarily a love story that chronicles the relationship between Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley through courtship, consummation, reaffirmation and finally separation by Catherine's death. Throughout the story, the war serves as a catalyst to their relationship not only creating the circumstances that bring them together emotionally but force their temporary separation as well. As the title of the novel makes clear, A Farewell to Arms concerns itself primarily with war, namely the process by which Frederic Henry removes himself from it and leaves it behind.
The novel offers masterful descriptions of the conflict’s senseless brutality and violent chaos: the scene of the Italian army’s retreat remains one of the most profound evocations of war in American literature. Nevertheless, the novel cannot be said to condemn the war; A Farewell to Arms is hardly the work of a pacifist. Instead, just as the innocent engineer’s death is an inevitability of war, so is war the inevitable outcome of a cruel, senseless world. Hemingway suggests that war is nothing more than the dark, murderous extension of a world that refuses to acknowledge, protect, or preserve true love
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