"A Farewell to Arms" is a novel by Ernest Hemingway, which was first published in 1929. The story is set during world war I and follows the American lieutenant Frederic Henry who works as a volunteer in the ambulance corps of the Italian army.
The story covers both the harsh realities of war and the tragic love story between Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley.
Frederic Henry is the narrator and the protagonist of the story. Throughout the book we see Henry develop a lot as a character.
At the start of the novel, Henry has never experienced any true loss, he sees the war as dreadful but necessary. He seems to lack meaning in life and only cares for drinking and women.
As the novel progresses and he falls in love with Catherine, he begins to distance himself from the war and realizes that all he wants is to be with Catherine.
“In the old days, I would have insulted them and picked a fight.” (Hemmingway,224) is a quote that shows how Henry has matured, and that he is also able to recognize this.
I would have to say my least favourite character is Catherine Barkley. She’s portrayed as this submissive, helpless "ideal" woman, who does everything she can to please Henry.
To be completely honest, I found her to be extremely shallow, boring and simply annoying.
All she did was complain and worry about everything, and the same annoying dialogue about “I love you, do you love me?” over and over again.
The two main themes in this novel are love and war. Hemingway writes about the war in a harsh and unglamourized manner, to give the reader a realistic experience of the terrible events he describes.
He wants the reader to understand how meaningless and horrific the war truly was.
The book is also about love, Catherine and Frederic’s relationship shows how people try to normalize their lives during the war, finding comfort where they can.
Such as falling in love and starting a family. The title "A Farewell to Arms" can be related to both of these themes.