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Literary Analysis of Ernest Hemingway’s Book, A Farewell to Arms

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Literary Analysis of Ernest Hemingway’s Book, a Farewell to Arms

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“A Farewell to Arms”, by Ernest Hemingway, is a tragic love story that takes place during World War 1, in Italy. Henry was an American ambulance driver in the Italian army. During his service, Henry faced many horrific events that affected his views on the war. He was severely injured when a mortar bomb hit him and his crew. Meeting Catherine and falling in love with her was a major catalyst to why he started to truly resent the war. Before meeting her, he did not believe in love. Throughout the novel, Hemingway focuses on the theme of love and war and how the two cannot coexist. After finding love with Catherine, Henry was able to find a system of values to live by that he did not know existed previously.

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Before meeting Catherine, Henry was a lady’s man. He did not believe in love or know what it was like to love someone. Henry would hang out with the other men in his crew and meet many women. When Rinaldi, Henry’s roommate, introduced him to Catherine, he was taken aback by her beauty. When Catherine and Henry started dating, Hery was playing a game with Catherine and she could see right through him. They had different intentions when it came to being together. Catherine wanted a man to protect her and love her, while Henry’s main goal was to sleep with her. As time progressed, Henry started developing feelings for Catherine and ended up falling in love with her. Catherine kept him distracted while he faced various hardships during the war. When with Catherine, Henry had forgotten all about his battle wounds and horrors of the war. When he was not with her, Henry felt lonesome and uneasy. Henry regretted wasting time with other women when he could have been with Catherine the entire time. When Catherine died, Henry was devastated that the love of his life was no longer going to guide him in a world that was full of fighting and war. Meeting Catherine and falling in love with her had given Henry a system of values to live by when it came to love. He had learned what it meant to love someone and how to care for them. After Catherine’s tragic death, these values would stay with Henry forever.

In the end, Henry was able to find a system of values, based on love, to live by. Catherine taught him the meaning of love and what it was like to be loved by another. As their relationship continued, Henry focused less on the war and more on Catherine. He wanted her to be happy, as she wanted the same for him. Henry and Catherine’s relationship proved to be successful, however, it was Catherine's tragic death that proved love and war could not coexist. War is never a good place to fall in love. Just like the war, it will end in a tragedy.

Works cited

  1. Hemingway, E. (1929). A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner.
  2. Moddelmog, D. (2009). A Farewell to Arms: Love and War. In The Cambridge Companion to Ernest Hemingway (pp. 95-108). Cambridge University Press.
  3. Bell, M. J. (1990). Hemingway and Women: Female Critics and the Female Voice. In Hemingway and Women: Female Critics and the Female Voice (pp. 1-19). University of Alabama Press.
  4. Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2007). Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. Infobase Publishing.
  5. Trogdon, R. W. (2014). The Hemingway Short Story: A Critical Appreciation. McFarland.
  6. Wagner-Martin, L. (1997). Ernest Hemingway: A Literary Life. Macmillan International Higher Education.
  7. Spanier, S. (Ed.). (2002). Hemingway's Quarrel with Androgyny. University Press of Virginia.
  8. McCullough, M. (2004). Love and Death in Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. In The Cambridge Companion to Ernest Hemingway (pp. 109-121). Cambridge University Press.
  9. Reynolds, M. (2017). Hemingway: The 1930s through the Final Years. WW Norton & Company.
  10. Smith, P. (2015). Reading Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms: Glossary and Commentary. Liverpool University Press.

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