s Farewell Arms EssaysThe setting of A Farewell to Arms is Italy, where they were fighting Austria, during World War I. The story is about Frederick Henry, an American, who served as a lieutenant in the Italian army to a group of ambulance drivers. At the start of the novel, Frederick was a drunk who traveled from one house of prostitution to the next. Yet he was discontent with his unsettled lifestyle. Frederick meets Catherine Barkley an English volunteer nurse, who serves in Italy, at a near by hospital. In the first few chapters, Fredericks life is seeing Miss Barkley, drinking with the others at his barracks, and driving the ambulance.
Frederick is in a bunker, preparing to drive the ambulance when, the bunker is shelled. One of his drivers is killed, two are wounded, and Frederick is hit in the knee. Frederick is forced to go to a hospital. Frederick transfers to the hospital where Catherine is stationed. Catherine was very experienced with love and loss. She lost a fiance in the war. Frederick slowly fell in love with her and in his love for her he found commitment. Catherine volunteers to work nights so they can spend time together. Frederick recuperates and returns to the front line after spending a week traveling with Catherine. But Catherine tells him that she is pregnant. Frederick admits to feeling trapped.
At the front line Frederick again starts driving ambulance. The Italian army is forced to retreat, though. While retreating Frederick looses three of his ambulances and two of his men. He is almost killed by the Carabinieri or army police, when they are stopping officers at a bridge. Frederick escapes into the river and later finds Catherine. They run of to Switzerland when they are tipped of that the police are after Frederick. They spend the winter in Switzerland, taking walks, and enjoying the winter sport. Spring rolls around, and one night Catherine is awakened in the night because shes having the baby. They go to the hospital and are put in a room. The birth takes a very long time, and there are complications. The doctor suggests a caesarean section. The baby is brought to another room and the doctor holds it upside down and smacks it. The baby is dead; it was choked by its umbilical cord. Frederick seems unmoved. They sew up Catherine; she looks very gray. Frederick goes to eat dinner. When he comes back they tell him that Catherine has hemorrhaged. Frederick prays to God that He may spare Catherine, he pleads to not let her die. He goes in to see her; Catherine knows she is going to die. They make Frederick leave, Catherine hemorrhages again and she dies. Frederick cries, he wont talk to the doctor; he goes in by Catherine but says she feels like a statue. Frederick walks off into the rain.
When Frederick entered Catherines hospital room, for the first time, he prayed and showed some emotion. He cried. In the end of the novel, Frederick is faced with a life-changing occurrence. He lost something of real value to him. It took the loss of something so important to make the real Frederick Henry surface. He asked God to save his greatest love after taking his child and did not really receive and answer. He concluded death is the end and when it comes, there is nowhere to go.
Character Analysis: There were really only two main characters in this book, Frederick and Catherine. I will describe them, and how they changed through the book.
Frederick Henry was an American. He was often referred to as Tenete. Frederick and Ernest experience many of the same situations. Both were drinkers, and were involved in World War I in a medical capacity. They were both shot in the knee, and both met nurses whom they fell in love with while they were hospitalized. In the beginning of the novel he is a ladies man. But when he finds Catherine things change. He slowly fell in love with her, and he found commitment. For once he didnt feel lonely and insecure. Catherine was sick and this was when you see who Henry really has become. I sat outside the hall. Everything was gone inside of me. I did not think. I could not think. I knew she was going to die and prayed that she would not. Dont let her die. Oh, God, please dont let her die. Ill do anything for you if you wont let her die. Please, please, please, dear God, dont let her die. God please make her not die. Ill do anything you say if you dont let her die. (pg. 330) Then Catherine died. Frederick had finally found someone to love, admire, and settle down with, and something terrible happened. It revealed how he has changed as a person. He changed from an over-sensuous womanizer to a person who had settled down and sought everything he hoped in life, but lost.
Catherine Barkley was an English volunteer nurse, stationed in Italy. She knew what love and loss where. She had already lost a fiance in the war. In the beginning of her relationship with Frederick she was not sure about him. But she fell in love with him. She always seemed very insecure. She always made Frederick tell her that he loved her. She was always afraid that hed leave her. You do love me?(Catherine)I really love you. Im crazy about you.(Frederick)You really love me? Dont keep on saying that . Toward the end of the book Catherine realizes that Frederick is there to stay. She misses her family, and talks about visiting them. Shes afraid that the baby will cause Frederick to feel trapped. But he says hell be okay. Catherine is brave, according to Frederick.
Catherine isnt as well developed as Frederick. It goes deeper into Fredericks feelings. But both of the characters are well developed. The rest of the characters in the book are flat. It never goes into depth about them. Both of the characters are very believable. Catherine might be a little naive, but I believe I could see both of them walking down the street next to me. I sympathize with Frederick a lot. He lost his wife (practically) and his child. He couldnt understand why God took Catherine. Just like some people who cant understand why their husband or wife was killed. In the end everyone must die, and that is what Frederick believed.
This book was a typical love story: a Romeo and Juliet placed against the odds. In this novel, Romeo was Frederick and Juliet was Catherine. Their love had to survive the obstacles of World War I. The background of war-torn Italy added to the tragedy of the love story. The war affected the emotions and values of each character. The love between Catherine and Frederick had to withstand long separations, life-threatening situations, and the uncertainty of each others condition. This novel was a beautiful love story of two people who needed each other in a period of complete upheaval.
Evaluation: I believe the theme of A Farewell to Arms is: Hopelessness-no matter how hard we fight to live, we end up defeated, but we are here and we must go on. An example is when Catherine is fighting to stay alive, she gives everything but she dies. Frederick wants to live with Catherine forever, but shes taken away from him, and in the end, Frederick will also end up defeated and dead.
My evaluation of the theme as a Christian is that it is outrageous. The world is so hopeless because they dont have the truth. When they die, they expect hell or nothing. When we die we have the hope of eternal life. Frederick didnt look forward to anything; he just knew that in the end he would die. I look forward to heaven and meeting Jesus and all the other saints in heaven. The Bible disagrees with this totally as shown in Isaiah 40:31 But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Symbolism is really used a lot in this book. I believe that rain is a symbol of disaster. When things went very badly in the war, the start of winter came with permanent rain. Miss Barkley is afraid of the rain, she often sees herself dead in it, or she sees Frederick dead in it. It is raining the entire time that Catherine is in childbirth and when both she and her baby die. A metaphor is used when Frederick jumps in the river to save himself. Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation. (pg. 232) There is foreshadowing when Catherine dies; she predicts that she will die. Its ironic that Catherine and the baby die, you think that everything will be all right.
The book was hard to read. I often got lost while reading dialogue between two people because it doesnt say whos talking. The sentences are very short and he writes as if you were there next to him, and he was just telling you a story. It had a great plot and there was a big twist when Catherine and the baby die. A lot of other writers thought he used a lot more symbolism, making it even harder to read. Ernest Hemingway was twisted; his view of the world was typical of the lost generation. I would recommend the book because it has been called one of the greatest war novels ever. It was an excellent book even though it was hard to understand. I would also recommend doing a little research before you start reading so you know what to expect and how to understand it.
There is great power in being an author; you can make things happen which do not necessarily occur in real life. Hemingway acted out his feeling of inadequacy and powerlessness by hunting, drinking, spending lots of money, and having many girlfriends. I believe Hemingway had Catherine Barkley and her child die because he believed that death comes to everyone; it was inevitable. Death ends life before you have a chance to learn and live. He writes, in A Farewell to Arms, They threw you in and told you the rules and the first time they caught you off base they killed you they killed you in the end. You could count on that. Stay around and they would kill you. This shows the hopelessness that enveloped him.