A Comprehensive Analysis of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was inspired by his WWI experiences to have the setting in a small Italian town during WWI around 1917. While he served as an ambulance driver for the Italian army, Hemingway was hit by a trench mortar shell and fell in love with a Red Cross nurse after he transferred to a hospital in Milan. Hemingway used these experiences to highlight how war can make one feel exhausted, desolate, and demoralized. Hemingway used his accident to emphasize how the theme of how the no one is in control of the forces of nature and how weary war can make a person.

Hemingway also used his experiences with the Red Cross nurse as inspiration to highlight how many desperate to gain control of their lives by creating an escape from an unpredictable and forlorn situation. In addition, Hemingway describes the scenery around him while he is driving the ambulance to emphasize the hopelessness of war: “There were troops on this road and motor trucks and mules with mountain guns and… under a hill beyond the river, the broken houses of the little town that was to be taken”(Hemingway 38-39).

Hemingway continues to describe the bleak scenery around him to highlight how war has taken the lives of many who were innocent and has forced many to have an austere outlook on life.

Finally, Hemingway uses rain in his setting to foreshadow death. For example, Catharine describes why she is uneasy about the rain: “I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it… And sometimes I see you dead in it” (Hemingway 110).

Get quality help now
Writer Lyla

Proficient in: A Farewell To Arms

5 (876)

“ Have been using her for a while and please believe when I tell you, she never fail. Thanks Writer Lyla you are indeed awesome ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Hemingway also uses rain in the setting at the end after finding out Catharine and his child died: “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain”(Hemingway 284). Hemingway uses rain in the setting to foreshadow the ominous ending of the book and how Hemingway loses his faith at the end of the novel.

Journal Entry of Question Six

One motif that occurs throughout A Farewell to Armsis masculinity. The men in the book present stereotypical roles by proving to be masculine while at the front. For example, Rinaldi continually brags about being a seducer. In the beginning of the book, Rinaldi professes his love about Catharine. However, once he sees that Catharine prefers Frederic to him, Rinaldi claims he’s glad he does not have to deal with constraints of commitment: “’Thank God I did not become involved with the British”” (Hemingway 27). Also, this motif occurs again when the ambulance driversget stuck in the mud and the two engineering sergeants refuse to help them. Frederic shoots one of them in the progress; however Bonello feels the urge to kill the wounded sergeant: “Bonello leaned over, put the pistol against the man’s head and pulled the trigger… ‘You see me shoot him, Tenente?’” (Hemingway 177). This occurring motif highlights how men in the war had to prove their masculinity in front of their peers in order to avoid ridicule that they can’t face the grim reality of war. This emphasizes the theme of showing how war can breakdown the spirit and morality of a person. Hemingway is trying to stress how soldiers were an emotionally detached mask in order to cope with the horrors of war.

One major theme that is developed in A Farewell to Arms is the one will go through desperate mean to try to escape the horrors of war. This theme is emphasized through the main character’s actions. For example, in Chapter 22, Miss Van Campen accused Frederic of purposely making himself ill in order to avoid being at the front: “’I suppose you can’t be blamed for not wanting to go back to the front. But I should think you would try something more intelligent than producing jaundice with alcoholism?” (Hemingway 125). Miss Van Campen also reflects of how there were cases occurring at the time that soldiers creating self inflicted wounds to avoid fighting at the front. This event highlights how people were willing to put themselves at physical harm in order to avoid the emotional pain of war. Another example is when Frederic abandons his post in the army and goes to Milan to find Catharine. Even Helen, Catharine’s friend, rebukes the couple of how unreasonable they are being: “You have no shame and no honor…””(Hemingway 214). Frederic’s actions underline how many in the army were becoming weary of the war and were willing to desert their post for a chance of freedom and hopefulness.

The point of view of the narrator is first-person. Frederic is limited to what the knowledge of most characters by his interactions with them and/or what he has heard about them. However, from the beginning of the novel, Frederic has knowledge of the tragedy that Catherine and his son will die at the end. This is possible since Frederic is recollecting his war experiences while narrating the book. Throughout the book, Frederic does try to evaluate his experiences as a youth from a perspective that is emotionally distant. Hemingway chose this style of narration because he wanted to emphasize the theme of the grimness of war and the austerity of loss. If Hemingway used the perspective of a youth, the novel’s ending might be focused on finding solace through tragic events. Only the perspective of an emotionally distant adult would underline that it is best to accept the grim reality instead of finding false hope to cope with loss. There is another distinctive feature about the narrator’s perspective: the reader is unsure of whether he can trust the narrator.

Frederic admits throughout the book that he does lie to people. For example, he admitted that he lied to Catharine about loving her in the beginning: “I knew I did not love Catherine Barkley…?But I do love you” (Hemingway 27). Also, the reader knows that Frederic has a drinking problem which can alter his way of remembering events. This perspective affects the rest of the novel since the reader is unsure of whether to trust the narrator about his recollections of his experiences. The only thing the reader can trust him about is the theme that Frederic is trying to stress throughout the novel.

The word “arms” takes a double meaning in the title. One definition of “arms” is weapons or armaments. Using this definition, the title highlights how Frederic is saying “farewell” to weapons of war. This is shown when Frederic abandons his post as an ambulance driver during the treat and runs away with Catharine to avoid being arrested. However, there is another definition of “arms”: an upper limb of the human body. This definition takes on another meaning of the title: Frederic must also say “farewell” to his loved ones. This occurs when Frederic has to accept the death of his child and Catharine when she has a hemorrhage. This meaning of the title also occurs when Frederic has to say goodbye to many of the men he once knew in the war (i.e. when Aymo dies during the retreat, Bonello disappearing to avoid getting killed, etc.). Overall, this title hints that it’s a story about love and war and how one tries to cope with loss. Another possible title could be Death of a Honeymoon. This title could fit since Frederic tries repeatedly to escape war by abandoning his post and fleeing to Switzerland to avoid arrest in order to engage in a passionate love affair with Catherine and focus on the possibility of hope for the future. However, Frederic has no choice but to face the bleakness of reality when he has to deal with the loss of Catherine and his son.

The ending, while very tragic, created a subtle but powerful message about the reality of life: love and war can lead to losses that, sometimes, can never be compensated. The narrator does not come to an epiphany like many would expect. Instead he makes a small remark: “It was like saying good-by to a statue” (Hemingway 284). This quotation highlights how even though Frederichas accepted his loss, he still does not have hope for the future. Frederic has finally accepted the bleakness of reality and the future as he tries to cope with his loss. My copy of the book includes Hemingway’s early drafts and alternative endings. The alternative endings are completely different from the original. One ending revolves around religion while another ending is about how the baby lives. Overall, the majority of these endings involve the narrator having an epiphany about life, war, and love. However, these endings suggest that solace can compensate for loss. The difference with this ending is that it suggests that a revelation may not always solve internal conflicts; sometimes, one has to accept the grim reality of life and try to move on.





Cite this page

A Comprehensive Analysis of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. (2021, Dec 08). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-comprehensive-analysis-of-a-farewell-to-arms-by-ernest-hemingway/

A Comprehensive Analysis of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7