The first major symbol in A Farewell to Arms represents the unavoidable loss of happiness through its own gloomy form—rain. Rainstorms in the novel are frequently associated with fear, or they foreshadow a collapsing of some form of pleasure (SparkNotes Editors). Catherine Barkley’s fear of rain may directly symbolize her fear for her future with Henry: “…’I’m afraid of the rain because I sometimes see me dead in it…and sometimes I see you dead in it… Oh, oh God, I wish I wasn’t. ’She was crying. I comforted her and she stopped crying. But outside it kept on raining” (121, 122). Rain is also present in most of the scenes that precede or accompany an unfortunate event. For example, the “rain was coming down heavily outside on the balcony” (136) the night that Henry was caught drinking in his hotel room, and was subsequently stripped of his leave, meaning that he would have to return to the front and leave Catherine sooner than expected. In the final gruesome scene of the novel, in which Henry mourns his...
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... commonplace as a result of the psychological effects of the horrific acts of war.
After learning of Hemingway’s own tragic wartime experiences, it becomes clear that A Farewell to Arms is nearly a direct reflection of Hemingway’s life and his views on war and humanity. Its somber tone and pessimistic storyline reflect Hemingway’s discontent with life as portrayed through Frederic Henry. Acknowledging this stance gives the reader an understanding of Hemingway’s motive behind writing A Farewell to Arms, which could possibly provide somewhat of an explanation of why he committed suicide. Hemingway is largely successful in utilizing literary devices that exemplify the central theme on the novel, which is an important idea that individuals today may consider: a man can never be truly satisfied without losing something important in another aspect of his life.
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