Ernest Hemingway’s Life Compared to A Farewell to Arms

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Ernest Hemingway used his experiences from World War I to enhance the plot of A Farewell to Arms. Parallels can be drawn throughout the entire novel between Henry's and Hemingway's experiences. Both were Americans serving in the Italian army; both were wounded and went to Milan; both fell in love with a nurse. These many similarities, however, also contain slight differences. There is no real question that Hemingway based events in the novel off of his real experiences, but A Farewell to Arms is by no means an autobiography. The book does not focus on the experience of war. Instead, it is more focused on the after-effects. Minor changes to the events themselves make the novel unique, while the factual basis strengthens the plot with authentic feeling. A Farewell to Arms has many similarities between Henry and Hemingway; the first noticeable one is that Henry, like Hemingway, was an American in the Italian army. Henry was an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, just like Hemingway was. Thomas Putnam stated in his article on Hemingway that "during the First World War, Ernest Hemingway volunteered to serve in Italy as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross. In June 1918, while running a mobile canteen dispensing chocolate and cigarettes for soldiers, he was wounded by Austrian mortar fire." This is comparable to Henry’s experiences in A Farewell to Arms. Anders Hallengren drew the connection that both men, real and fictional, were one of the first Americans wounded in World War I. "There is a parallel in Hemingway's life, connected with the occasion when he was seriously wounded at midnight on July 8, 1918, at Fossalta di Piave in Italy and nearly died. He was the first American to be wounded in Italy during World War I." A... ... middle of paper ... ...l>. Ganzel, Dewey. "A Farewell to Arms: The Danger of Imagination." Sewanee Review 79.4 (1971): 576-76. JSTOR. Web. 24 Mar. 2010. . Hallengren, Anders. "A Case of Identity: Ernest Hemingway." 28 Aug. 2001. Web. 15 Mar. 2010. . Putnam, Thomas. "Hemingway on War and Its Aftermath." National Archives and Records Administration. Spring 2006. Web. 16 Mar. 2010. . Rood, Karen. "American Writers in Paris, 1920-1939." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1980. 188-89, 208. Print. Young, Philip. Ernest Hemingway a Reconsideration. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1966. Print. *Accessed at
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