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Religion in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms

The Role of Religion in A Farewell to Arms

Religion played a significant role in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. The attitudes that the character had towards the war and life were closely associated with their views on religion. Due to extreme circumstances of war, moral standards were obscure for the characters. Almost everything related to the war violated the normal code of morality, which led many to feel disenchanted. Those who viewed the war as senseless had no faith in God or religion. For the character of Fredrick Henry it was clear that his faith in God was a subject of conflict. Henry was a character that understood religion, but did not love God. His love for Catherine was the most religious feeling that he had. Though Fredrick Henry lacked faith in God, he comprehended the power and control that God has.

With the exception of the priest, majority of the characters in the novel were not religious. At the start of the novel the major from Henry’s mess declared his lack of faith in God, as he said, “He loves Franz Joseph. That’s where the money comes from. I am an atheist.” (7). He was not the only one that was not religious, the lieutenant and others in the mess shared the same sentiment. This display of disrespect for religion was at first surprising to the reader, for she thought that all Italians were staunch Catholics. As the plot developed, this sentiment correlated to the circumstance in which the characters were in. As seen from the beginning of the novel, drinking and going to whorehouses and officer’s clubs was common for the soldiers. During times of war, these activities are almost necessities to release the psychological stress placed on these men. In this environment, being reli…

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…or Catherine’s life. But like the ant’s on the log, the prayer went unheard.

Works Cited and Consulted

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1956.

Ernest Hemingway in His Time. July, 1999. Universtiy of Delaware Library, Special Collections Department. 29 Dec. 2000


Flashback. July, 1999. The Atlantic Monthly. 29 Dec. 2000

Hemingway Campfire. December, 2000. Hemingway Nantucket Campfire. 5 Jan. 2001


Lewis, Wyndham. Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms. Ed. Jay Gellens. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1970. 56-64.

Young, Philip. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Rinehart, 1952.

Stream of Consciousness in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms

Stream of Consciousness in A Farewell to Arms

Many important American writers came to prominence during the Jazz Age, but their commonalities often stopped there. From lyrical to sparse, many different styles can be seen among these authors, such as those of Henry James, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway. One stylistic technique, stream of consciousness, was most associated with Joyce. Yet, Hemingway also used this technique with regularity and it is an important element in his war novel, A Farewell to Arms. This technique uses the interior monologue of a character to convey information, and thus the reader is allowed a more fluid picture of the true thoughts of the character, in this case, Lieutenant Frederick Henry. Also, the information contained in these stream of consciousness passages would not have been as effectively expressed in traditional prose style.

There are six specific passages in A Farewell to Arms that exemplify the stream of consciousness technique. Each of these is related to one of the themes of drunkenness and confusion, escape and fantasy, and disillusionment. These themes are presented in a progression, as Henry becomes more demoralized about his life and the war. The first passage comes early, as he relives the experiences of his weeks on leave. The Lieutenant has been drinking and his memories flow like the speech of an intoxicated person; continuing on from one subject to the next without regard for the listener. Of course, the reader is the only “listener” here, but there is a sense that Henry truly is lost in his own thoughts. His reeling thoughts attempt to summarize the previous few weeks in the following passage:

I had gone. . . to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled and you needed to look at the wall, nights in bed, drunk, 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 all unreal in the dark and so exciting that you must resume again unknowing and not caring in the night, sure that this was all and all and all and not caring (13).

This description is in direct contrast to a previous description of the cold, clear, scenic Abruzzi, Henry’s alternative vacation spot, emphasizing his confusion as well as the sensory overload of the Cova.

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