The vigorous, strapping youth boldly advances into war, rifle in hand, picture of mom in his pocket- hair neatly combed, clean socks. Eagerly he arrives on the sunny front and fights off the enemy with valor, saving whole troops of injured soldiers as he throws them over his shoulders and prances upon the grassy lawn to safety. Between various sequential medal-awarding ceremonies, he meets a radiant young nurse tending the blessed wounded he saved. They fall in love, get married, produce beautiful war babies, and everyone returns home happily. Wouldn’t it be just lovely if war were really like that?
It’s not. It’s war. Ernest Hemingway’s, A Farewell to Arms is a book about war. As a reader, when I start reading a book about death, blood, guts, and destruction, I typically will not expect a Cinderella “Happily Ever After,” “aw, isn’t that sweet?” ending. But, isn’t it a love story? Well, yes, it’s love in war. Let us not forget the circumstances that surround and confine this love. Is the tragic ending of the novel thus valid? Well, yes- it is war, after all. Few good things result. Am I pro-ending? Well, I’m certainly not rejoicing over the death of two innocent lives, nor do I think Mr. Henry does either. There is a difference though between recognizing the possible realism of the story, including how the ending fits into it, and personally liking the occurrences within- I for one have no strengthened desire to pack my bags and head off to war.
Pain and agony, blood and guts, bodies strewn over fields of mud are all immediate turn-offs for me. But, besides the obvious, my biggest issue with the war is that it causes the characters to create their own fragile wor…
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…ou’ll never get married…You’ll die then. Fight or Die. That’s what people do. They don’t marry.’ ” (108).
Indeed, it’s war. They don’t get married. She does get pregnant. She does die, as did many young women in such times and circumstances, in childbirth. Is this unreasonable? Of course not. Is it sad? Very much so. Does the one who loved her, however superficially it may have been, rejoice over her death? No. He prays for her survival, and he grieves. He didn’t want to see his buddies die on the battlefield, he didn’t want to see Rinaldi die from a sexually transmitted disease, and he certainly didn’t want to see the death of his so-called wife and newborn child. War brings pain. Even through the pretending, no one can truly escape the agony.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Simon
Progression of Love in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms
The Progression of Love in A Farewell to Arms
There are two major themes in A Farewell to Arms that Hemingway clearly conveys: war and love. The war theme is obvious because the book is set during the World War. The theme of love is less obvious, it begins faintly because of the uncertainty between Frederick Henry and Catherine Barkley. Neither desire love or commitment to anyone, but act upon their desires of passion. As the story progresses, so does their love. The strength of their love is enforced by various understandings and agreements. Love is the theme that closes the book, leaving a final allusion of what their love is about.
When the two first meet, Catherine is still dealing with the death of her fiancé in battle. This presents her as a woman who knows the dangers and possibilities of war. As a nurse physically present during the war, she is rightfully not perceived as grieving and mortified by her fiancé¹s death. She did not marry him because he wanted to enlist in the war, ³I would have married him or anything … But then he wanted to go to war and I didn¹t know² (Hemingway, 19). Typically, many women married their sweethearts in lure of the war. She goes onto say that she ³didn¹t know anything then,² but the fact that she did know that the war was not an excuse to get married presents her as perceptive and intellligent (19). The war alone could not justify her love for her life long friend and fiancé. This tragic event explains her confusing emotional behavior towards Henry at first.
Henry¹s failure to remember his appointment with Catherine because he was drunk shows that he did not regard Catherine too seriously. However, his surprising sorrow when she is unable to see him shows tha…
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…irlwind romance of Henry and Catherine¹s relationship. Henry¹s involvement in the war always leads him back to Catherine, whether by choice or accident. His love for her became an important drive for him to go on: when he was wounded, during the retreat, when he killed a man, and when abandoning the Italian Army. Henry¹s life was the war, but his motivation was his love for Catherine.
Works Cited and Consulted
Hemingway, Ernest; A Farewell to Arms; Simon