War And Love in A Farewell To Arms

Earnest Hemingway was an American Nobel Prize-winning writer who lived in the early 20th century. He served in World War I which inspired a few of his books including A Farewell to Arms. Due to a possible genetic disease, in his final years Hemingway’s brain deteriorated to the point where he committed suicide on July 2, 1961. Informatiion about the period (literary, hisotorical, artistic, philosophical)

A Farewell to Arms takes place during the First World War. World War I was fought between the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey) and the Allies (France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and eventually the US). The War began because if the assassination of the Franz Ferdinand the Austrian archduke but quickly got out of hand with countries fighting for no reason. With the development of new tools for warfare including the Machine gun and trench warfare World War I became a war of unprecedented destruction and bloodshed. The war finally ended in 1918 with a victory for the Allies.


  • The story takes place in WWIWar Drama
  • An emotional series of events during wartime
  • With war comes death, destruction, and tragedy

There’s a Romance between the main character and a nurse. Lieutenant Fredrick Henry is an American ambulance driver in the Italian army. While taking a leave on the Italian front, the Lieutenant meets an army nurse named Catherine whose fiancé had recently died in the war and the two began to date. Unfortunately, while on a mission, Henry is in an explosion and is transported to the hospital where Catherine has been conveniently moved.

While in the hospital, Henry and Catherine further realize their love for each other and spend every moment they can with each other. In this time, they become very close, so close that Catherine becomes pregnant which she reveals to Henry before he leaves to return to the from.

Back at the front, Henry aids the Italians in a forced retreat. He is traveling with a few drivers and sergeants when their car gets stuck and the group was left behind. While trying to flee, two sergeants were shot down by Henry causing one other member of his band to give himself up to the enemy in an attempt to survive.

When the group finally arrives, they are accosted by corrupt Italian officers. Knowing he would be executed for his position, Henry jumps into the river and is presumed dead. He then makes his way to Catherine’s new station and the two run away together to Switzerland. There, their baby is delivered as a stillborn and his mom, Catherine dies soon after because of multiple hemorrhages. The book closes with Henry walking away in the rain. Identify and explain the use and effect of three literary techniquesForeshadowing of Catherine’s death. After she dies, her love Henry walks away alone in the rain. Irony—Catherine gives Henry a St. Anthony metal for protection and that he would return because he is the patron saint of lost things. On his mission, he blows up and is sent away from her. Diction—Hemmingway uses crude informal diction to show everyone is comfortable enough to speak freely but also the loss of civility in war.

Cite and quote one example of each“I am afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it” (109)“’It’s a Saint Anthony,’ she said. ‘And come home to-morrow night. ’” (37)“Jesus Christ, ain’t this a goddam war? ” (35)“It knocked me down and I thought I was dead all right but those damn potato mashers haven’t got anything in them. ” (112)“To hell with you…To hell with the whole damn business. ” (174)

Memorable Quotes

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry. ” (4)

“’You don’t have to pretend to love me. ’‘But I do love you” (27)3)

“We won’t quarrel, baby. I love you too much. But don’t be a fool. (58)

Explain the significance of each passage or explain how it relates to the work as a whole:

  1. This quote sets a theme for how dark the book will be and foreshadows the destruction and death that will come with the war.
  2. When Henry and Catherine first start dating, most of their monologue was her asking if he loved her and him lying and saying yes, until she called him out this one time and he might have actually meant it. This showed their relationship was becoming more.
  3. Rinaldi loves Henry and they are very close. Rinaldi is waring Henry that he is being a fool and nothing good will come out of loving Catherine.

The lieutenant is an ambulance driver for the Italian army. He is mostly content until he meets Catherine and runs away with her. Catherine is a war nurse at the same war front as Henry. The two are introduced by one of Henry’s friends and the two fall in love. Rinaldi was a surgeon at the same front as Henry who does not believe in love or fidelity although he does seem to have a crush on Henry. The unnamed priest that is laughed at by all in Henry’s unit except him. Another war nurse who later gets jealous of Henry and Catharine’s relationship. Part of Henry’s unit. He gives himself up as a war prisoner. Sits around and boasts about his metals He operates on Henry’s leg. He was shot and killed during the retreat. Gave Henry clothes and food after Henry runs away. Nurse that takes care of Henry when he needed surgery. She shortens Henry’s leave at the hospital by accusing him of alcoholism. Warns Henry of his arrest. A respected friend of Henry. They play billiards togetherMakes fun of the priest.

Significance of Opening Scene

The book takes place in Italy during World War I. Being on the front and working as an ambulance driver Fredric Henry sees the horrors of the war and has a distaste for it. Witnessing all the pointless violence, it is easy for Henry to make the decision to leave with his newly found love making the storyline possible.

The first chapter is very short but powerfully descriptive. Seeing how is written in a decidedly detached manor, one could assume that writing about it was very difficult for Hemmingway as this book was inspired by his own experiences. Making the book altogether more powerful but also foreboding as it was painful to write.

Significance of Ending or Closing Scene

Near the end there is a calm before the storm where Henry and Catherine were then safe and did normal, everyday things. Used to the war, Henry becomes restless and wishes for action which, unfortunately he gets when his Catherine miscarriages and then dies of hemorrhages. Giving the book it’s dark ending.

Key Symbols, Metaphors or Motifs

Rain (symbol) was a sign of fear and pain. Catherine is afraid of the rain and every time it rained someone was afraid or worried. At the very end of the book, as Henry walks away from his dead wife, it’s raining. Catherine’s hair (symbol) was a sign of peace and seclusion. The first time she let down her hair and let it fall around his hair, Henry compared it to being inside a tent or a waterfall. It showed the pair’s feeling of calm and tranquility around each other.

Possible Themes

The best possible theme for A Farewell to Arms the realities of War and Love. The book is written from a realist point of view which means that Hemmingway did not believe in love being some magical but something primal and chaotic, like war. For example, right after telling Henry about her dead fiancé, Catherine begins to peruse him which seemed random. As he gets to know her Catherine comes across as crazier and crazier, making him say “I love you” over and over even though they had met to days ago. Like Catherine, the war seemed crazy and unreal, with pointless death and no real goal and not good justification. Yet, as improbable as they should be, Love and War still happen.

15 April 2020
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