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A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway Essay

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A Farewell to Arms is a novel by Ernest Hemingway about an American ambulance driver in Italy during World War I, and the nurse, Catherine Barkley, with whom he falls in love. The story is narrated by his driver, named Frederic Henry. Whether or not this book is truly an anti-war novel is debatable, but it well depicts the effects an ongoing war has on soldiers and how the men try to numb this pain. Henry's close friend at the front, Rinaldi, forgets the war with the help of sex and seduction, the priest takes comfort in God, the Captain has humor and jokes about the priest, and almost all drink profusely, taking wine and brandy like water. But the most important and notable attempt to escape from the pain of war is Henry and Catherine's: they hide from the real world in their imaginary tales of love, then become buried in obsession with each other, but, eventually, they truly love one another.
Mr. Henry meets Ms. Barkley (very appropriately) in the springtime. Rinaldi originally was planning on having a relationship with the English nurse, but forfeited her to Henry when he saw their mutual interest. When Catherine and Henry first met, she was carrying a rattan stick, and Henry asks about it. Catherine explains: "‘It belonged to a boy who was killed last year'... ‘He was a very nice boy. He was going to marry me and he was killed in the Somme.'" (Hemingway, 18) The fact that she is carrying around one of her fiancee's possessions shows that she is still mourning his death. Catherine, wanting escape from the grief of her fiancee‘s death, and Henry, wanting to forget about the war, begin their relationship. Since their relationship was born of a need for entertainment rather than real mutual interest, it started off as...


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...the end the world kills you. Catherine gets a hemorrhage, and Henry pleads with God not to let her die. Before she does, she tells Henry that she wants him to have other girls. Even while dying she was thinking about Henry's happiness, a sure sign of honest love. Catherine dies, and Henry walks to his hotel alone, in the rain.
Henry and Catherine both tried to hide from the pain of reality in each other. Their relationship started as a meaningless game, but as their need for companionship grew they became obsessed with each other and their love. Finally, when the fantasies and dreams were not enough, they literally ran away from the war together. In the end, even though their love started as a lie, it is obvious that they both held a true love for each other.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms . New York: Scribner Classics, 1997. Print.


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