A Farewell To Arms By Ernest Hemingway


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     A Farewell To Arms written by Ernest Hemingway illustrates a typical love story between two people, this love story plays out in a war torn Italy during world war I, where Italy was battling Austria, the novels main characters, lieutenant Fredrick Henry an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian army and Catherine Barkley an English volunteer nurse who served in Italy. The novel portrays Henry as a drunk who traveled from one house of prostitution to the next, he was not happy with his lifestyle. Henry feels detached from life and is on a quest for identification, he gives a particular insight about how he feels about women “clear, cold and dry”. Henry loved to play the role of a womanizer. He is isolated from his family and compatriots. He is an American fighting a war in another country. In my opinion Henry is emotionally exhausted and it appears he has no place to go. Henry meets Catherine Barkley, near the front between Italy and Austria-Hungary. Catherine suffered during this war before she met Henry. Catherine had lost her fiancé during this war. She was startled by rain in her nightmares. She perceived rain as death. At first Henry wanted to seduce the nurse, to him it was a game, he had told the nurse that he loved her, but she had caught on to his game. Catherine confronted Henry and told him what she thought of his game. He was severely wounded on one of his runs. Henry was sent to the American hospital where Catherine worked. That is where he actually began to fall in love with her. He fully recovered and returned to the war-front, during a retreat the Italians started to fall apart. Henry shot an engineer sergeant under his command for dereliction, later in the confusion Henry is arrested by the battle police for the crime of not being Italian. He is disgusted with the army and facing death at the hands of the battle police during questioning. Henry decided he has had enough of the war, he ran into the river to escape. After swimming to safety, Henry boards a train to reunite with his love Catherine whom is pregnant with his child. Here is where he meets with an Italian bartender who will help him escape to Switzerland by boat. Henry and Catherine plan to get married soon after the baby is born.

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The months past while they are in the safety of Switzerland. Henry is awaken one morning by Catherine stirring in bed. She was having severe pain; they rushed to a hospital, she would be required to have a caesarean. A nurse informed Henry that the baby did not survived. The baby was born dead, suffocated with its umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. The nurse then informed him about Catharine’s situation, she had a hemorrhage. Henry wanted to be by Catherine’s side but the nurse did not let him in the room. He knew that Catherine would not make it. Henry sat outside in the hall, at this point he begins to pray to God, “Don’t let her die. Oh God, please don’t let her die. I’ll do anything for you if you won’t let her die. Please, please, please, dear God, don’t let her die. Dear God please make her not die. I’ll do anything you say if you don’t let her die. You took the baby but don’t let her die. That was all right but don’t let her die. Please, please, dear God, don’t let her die.”(330) This is one part in the entire novel that the author has shown any emotions by Henry. The nurse signaled him to come into the room. He approached Catherine and began to cry by her side. Catherine was very ill and was falling unconscious; the doctor had asked Henry to exit the room. Henry exited the room to the hallway with the doctor, he was offered some company for his way home but he declined any offers made by the doctor and nurses. Catherine had die from her birth labor. Henry went into the room, got the nurses out and shut the door then he proceeded to turn off the lights, it wasn’t any good for him, it was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while he left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. Henry had lost something of great value. He realized death is the end and when it comes; there is nowhere to go. He accepted death as the end of existence.
     I would recommend a Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway. It is a novel where it places two people against all odds. It reveals how a man can change from being a sensuous womanizer, insensitive, alcoholic, rude, and atheist to a man who settled down and sought everything he hoped for in life by finding someone to love and admire. It also shows how two people can devote their differences in understanding each other’s tragedies and emotions. Henry and Catherine’s relationship shows how they use and maintain each other’s self images, providing themselves with the support they need. Many modern couples can identify with these aspects of this novel and the problems that occur in their relationship, but cannot assume the love-playing role. By reading this book it can enlighten couples of what true love should be. In many of our relationships we have encountered problems that we fail to over come. This novel shows that there is nothing impossible for a couple to overcome together. We let many people dictate to us what love should be about. We do not make much of an effort to accomplish and pursue what we feel love is. Sometimes we need to understand that no matter what happens in life or in death Love is a hard thing to let go. This is why I would recommend this novel to a friend who is trying to find a true meaning of Love.


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