Essay on Religion in Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms

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The Role of Religion in A Farewell to Arms

    Religion played a significant role in Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. The attitudes that the character had towards the war and life were closely associated with their views on religion. Due to extreme circumstances of war, moral standards were obscure for the characters. Almost everything related to the war violated the normal code of morality, which led many to feel disenchanted. Those who viewed the war as senseless had no faith in God or religion. For the character of Fredrick Henry it was clear that his faith in God was a subject of conflict. Henry was a character that understood religion, but did not love God. His love for Catherine was the most religious feeling that he had. Though Fredrick Henry lacked faith in God, he comprehended the power and control that God has.


With the exception of the priest, majority of the characters in the novel were not religious. At the start of the novel the major from Henry's mess declared his lack of faith in God, as he said, "He loves Franz Joseph. That's where the money comes from. I am an atheist." (7). He was not the only one that was not religious, the lieutenant and others in the mess shared the same sentiment. This display of disrespect for religion was at first surprising to the reader, for she thought that all Italians were staunch Catholics. As the plot developed, this sentiment correlated to the circumstance in which the characters were in. As seen from the beginning of the novel, drinking and going to whorehouses and officer's clubs was common for the soldiers. During times of war, these activities are almost necessities to release the psychological stress placed on these men. In this environment, being reli...

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...or Catherine's life. But like the ant's on the log, the prayer went unheard.



Works Cited and Consulted

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1956.

Ernest Hemingway in His Time.  July, 1999. Universtiy of Delaware Library, Special Collections Department. 29 Dec. 2000


Flashback. July, 1999. The Atlantic Monthly. 29 Dec. 2000 <>

Hemingway Campfire. December, 2000. Hemingway Nantucket Campfire. 5 Jan. 2001


Lewis, Wyndham. Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms. Ed. Jay Gellens. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1970. 56-64.

Young, Philip. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Rinehart, 1952.

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