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A Farewell to Arms Essay

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Ernest Hemingway reveals understanding and a frame of reference on the misfortune of war
through the use of symbolism and themes. Mountains, plains, water, cold and the rain are

symbols used in the themes of the dangers of war that allow the reader to connect emotionally to

the characters. Imagery situated tactically through the novel, A Farewell to Arms, displays how well

Ernest Hemingway is capable of getting the reader ready for what the future brings.

Catherine Barkley, an English nurse during World War I, says, “I’m afraid of the rain” (125), to

the man she is in love with, Fredric Henry, an American in the Italian army. While in Milan

hiding from the Italian army from going AWOL, Catherine continues to explain, “I’m afraid of

the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it…and sometimes I see you dead in it.” (126).The

sinister and scary accuracy of this foreshadowing is riveting. To further strengthen the use of

symbolism Hemingway adds, “She was crying. I comforted her and she stopped crying. But

outside it kept on raining” (126). His use of imagery from Mother Earth to provide variation to

clarity of the unknown in the rain, the death in the plains and the safety of the mountains.
For Lt. Henry the mountains give him a feeling of safety. Henry and his fellow ambulance
Whipple 4
drivers are anxiously awaiting for the enemy to begin their attack. This is when they will be

surrounded by injured men yelling for help. All of the sudden the earth shakes. “Four hundred-

Twenty or minnenwerfer,” Gavazzi said. “There aren’t any four-hundred twenties in the

mountains,” I said. (54) Having this knowledge adds to the feeling of safety, because the

weapons that are substantial in size are more diffic...


... middle of paper ...


...ms. Ed. Jay Gellens. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1970. 56-64.

Cowley, Malcolm. "Rain as Disaster." The Portable Hemingway. Ed. Malcolm Cowley. New York: Viking, 1944. Rpt. in Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms. Ed. Jay Gellens. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1970. 54-55.

Halliday, E. M. "Hemingway's Ambiguity: Symbolism and Irony." American Literature 27 (1956): 57-63. Rpt. in Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms. Ed. Jay Gellens. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1970. 64-71.

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. 1929. New York: Scribner, 1995.

www.livejournal.com

Peterson, Richard K. Hemingway: Direct and Oblique. Paris: Mouton, 1969.

Schneider, Daniel J. "Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms: The Novel as Pure Poetry." Modern Fiction Studies 14.3 (1968): 283-296. Rpt. in Novels for Students. Ed. Dian Telgen. Detroit: Gale, 1997


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