As with many other authors of fictional novels, Ernest Hemingway was often noted for his use of symbolism in his numerous pieces of literature. Natural symbolism plays a significant role in Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell to Arms. This novel uses aspects of nature to structure the plot and provide symbols that replace human emotions.
Nature serves as a source of symbols which replace human sentiment or feelings, making the situation seem somewhat less serious. For example, when characters die, there is no mention of pain or suffering, rather it is simply stated that it is raining, or it is autumn. Substituting emotions with symbols of nature allows Hemingway to describe to the reader in a less informing manner what is actually taking place in the plot. He sometimes also uses symbols to completely omit references to attitudes and reactions towards situations. Ironically, these symbols sometimes represent the opposite of what their traditional meaning would be.
‘The storyline and character traits of this novel are largely affected by Hemingway’s use of symbolism.’ (Bender 55) This is established from the very first chapter, which discusses the rapid progression of the seasons from summer into autumn. Summer is signified by dryness and prosperity. This can be contrasted to autumn, which is identified with ill-fated occurrences and darkness. ‘...And in the fall when the rain came the leaves fell from the chestnut trees and the branches were bare and the trunks black with rain.’ (Hemingway 4) This changing of seasons is a minor transition related to symbolism, which sets the pace for the larger transitions of the novel as a whole. For example, the first fe...
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...o Arms.’ Professor Carlos Baker, author of ‘Hemingway: The Writer as an Artist,’ adequately sums up the use of symbolism in this novel. ‘Once the reader has become aware of what Hemingway is doing in those parts of his work which lie below the surface, he is likely to find symbols operating everywhere...’ (Baker 117)
Bender, David. Readings on Ernest Hemingway. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997.
Fielder, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel. New York: Stein and Day, 1975.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929.
Weeks, Robert. Hemingway: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1962.
Ernest Miller Hemingway: Writing Syle. http://www.encarta.msn.com/find/
Symbolism and Motifs. http://www. homework-online.com/afta/style-sturcture.asp
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