When Catherine and Henry meet, they both attempt to escape the effect of war through each other. Catherine lost her fiancé to the war, and Henry just wants to escape the dread of war. In the beginning, the two find solace in their purely sexual relationship. They pretend to love each other in the “rotten game” they play (31). The relationship serves as a distraction from the war waging around them, as when they spend time together, they do not have to think of the war. From then on, their relationship consists of them making love and making claims of love. They both recognize their relationship as being a game and a sham, but they continue to meet in isolated places. Neither of them expect any love to come out of their relationship.
In Milan, when Catherine and Henry meet again, they fall in love. The minute Henry sees Catherine after their separation, everything “turned over” inside of him (91). They immediately move to the bed to prove their love to each other. They had “many small ways of making love” and consider themselves married (114). This displays the large growth in their relationship from when they last saw each other. Instead of their relationship being solely sexual, they now incorporate feelings into it. Henry no l...
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...ng himself to do it. The girl in the hospital was no longer his Catherine, and “it was like saying goodbye to a statue” (332). In his narration, Frederic shows no emotion, but this line shows that he felt that saying goodbye would be fruitless. He cannot say goodbye to Catherine because she can no longer respond and comfort him as she has in the past. Furthermore, if he were to say goodbye, Henry would be admitting that Catherine and his escape has ended, and he would have to face reality.
Love brings Henry and Catherine comfort many times throughout the novel, but their story does not end as they wished. Their love, once beautiful and bright, ultimately kills Catherine and ruins Frederic. While their escape provided comfort, reality must always come crashing in. A Farewell to Arms shows the reader that no matter how lovely a distraction may be, it will not last.
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