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BOOK ONE

        The first book begins with Frederic Henry's return to the war. He is again with those whom he regards as his friends. Then Frederic meets Catherine Barkley. She is a nurse. They go together. I don't think Henry falls in love with her, but no doubt, he feels to her something warm. Sometime later Frederic gets wounded. So he goes to Milan. And Catherine goes there with him.

         Already in the first chapters a reader asks himself a question: what is the meaning of the title "A Farewell to Arms”? I should say that this farewell to arms is not just avoiding the usage of weapon in our life. It means natural hatred to aggression and violence. Farewell to arms means farewell to a disgusting war, to a senseless massacre of people, to a way of destroying everything instead of creating something new and great.

         This farewell is the farewell to a war breaking people's lives, a war as one of the most abominable ways to achieve one's aims. At last, farewell to arms means farewell to an inborn animal instinct to kill those whom a person regards as his/her enemies.

         Probably, it also means farewell to a senseless struggle with the things one can't change in one's life.

         (by Seagull)


Ernest Hemingway is one of the greatest American writers, and his novel "A Farewell to Arms" can be considered as one of his most successful works. The theme of the war is a subject matter of many of his books. But in this novel the reader can see not the result of the war but the very process. And the author clearly shows us that wars are senseless. Perhaps that is why the title of the book is "A Farewell to Arms". The war isn’t worth such sacrifices. Lots of victims, wounded people, distressed atmosphere and broken lives… There is no heroism in just being lead through the war. There are no motives in being optimistic while being at war and maybe that is why the main hero exclaims "Farewell…".

There are two lines of narration in the novel, two main themes: war and love. From the very beginning of the book we are taken immediately into the atmosphere of World War II. The main hero, Frederic Henry, expresses Hemingway’s attitude to this war. And along the whole narration we follow the evolution of his view of the war. At first Frederic is sure that the war is just and taking part in it he defends democracy and human rights. But at last he will understand the unnnecessity and fatality of this war. 

The other theme of the novel is love and it is closely connected with the war. The war conditions, the meeting between Frederic and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. At first they regard their relations just as an adventure. But later they fall in love with each other. But again, this love is formed and limited just by the war.

(by Luck)

...How many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?... (B.Dylan)

The novel "Farewell to arms” consists of five parts (books). In each book one important period in main character's life is shown. Being united they give the reader a complete idea of Frederic Henry's life.

In the first book the reader comes across different events that happen to the first character: his first meeting with a nurse Catherine, his first wound. As you've noticed – almost everything is for the first time for Frederic. It is the beginning not only of his story, but of his fight.

Frederic's view on the war is also revealed - from the very beginning we comprehend that he's absolutely fed up with it. The contradiction between his own reluctancy to fight and his duty as a soldier creates certain conflict of a man who has to adopt to the world which rules he doesn't want to follow. Frederic says that nothing can be worse that this war, even one's defeat. And here we understand the message of the title of the story. "The farewell to arms” means one's disapproval of any kind of violence and protest against the current situation in the civilization. While others talk about patriotism and courage, a young man dreams of the end of this useless killing. But he has to keep silence in order not to be regarded as a traitor. He is torn into pieces by two opposite forces – his own principles and his duty.

(by Rina)

The novel "A Farewell to arms” written by E. Hemingway first published in 1929 and it has remained his most popular work. The plot of the novel is straightforward as Hemingway's plots usually are. It is a story of an American lieutenant, Frederic Henry, who is also an American ambulance driver and a narrator of the story. The novel is divided into five parts, each describing a different phase of Henry's and his companions’ adventures. The novel begins with the description of artillery-troops marching slowly through the rain. In this novel rain is a symbol of terrible events and death. It is raining almost every time when something bad happens.War and love are the most important themes in the first book. The main character has a great desire to say the war "Good bye”. Everyone believes that the war will end soon. We know that this phenomenon means not only heroism and patriotism but also natural hatred to aggression and violence, destruction (first of all in people's minds), physical and emotional changes, desire to be independent, experience of pain and suffering. And that's why the main character exclaims "Farewell to arms!" Another important theme in the first book is love. It is love between man and woman. In this part of the novel Frederic Henry meets a girl, Catherin Barkley, who is an English nurse serving at the Italian front, her fiancé was killed in the war. During the first book the relationship between the main character and Catherin becomes more serious. He visits her more frequent. Catherin falls in love with Frederic and he falls in love with her. At the beginning of the story Henry has never experienced true loss, he believes that the war is dreadful but necessary. The only things Frederic finds interesting are adventures, drinking and woman. But then he becomes deeply pessimistic about the war and he realizes that true love is the only thing he prefers to have. Catherin made him be more emotional, feel more deeply. He begins to realize the nature of the world.

(by Tanya)

In this novel we see the usual style of the author, but we don’t feel the author’s approval of the war for the first time, we see it from the title already. The main character was devoted to his duty at the beginning of the novel, but when he had a conversation with drivers, who were civilians and were absolutely against war, he didn’t try to make them change their minds. Moreover we see some confusion on his face. I think that he hadn’t thought over the soldiers who fought only under pressure, who were afraid of outrage against their families. I think that this conversation and his physical injures change Henry’s mentality. The war is senseless, he tried to help to the driver, but he had already died, when he was going to hospital with other wounded soldier but he was also dead. And what for? So we’ll see.

In the book one we see Catherine for the first time. She is naive and even, as Henry thinks, slightly insane, when she gives in to love with him so quickly. However, she also shows her self-protection, calling their flirtation a "rotten game after Henry thinks nearly the same thing, and insists she is not "mad or "gone off. It's only a little sometimes. Whatever her sanity, she and Henry hit upon something when they call love a game. It is a distraction from the horrors of war, a way to lose or even to hide oneself in another person.

Henry was very devoted to his duty, he was afraid of war, but he just thought that it is essential, he just obeyed. And these explanation of his behaviour is unconvincing. Henry can never come up with a good reason for joining Italian army. Here, he shows his utter self-consciousness about being in the army. He feels "a vague sort of shame when he meets English-speaking people while he holds a gun, and he obviously does not feel comfortable in the role of a soldier.

(by Ayayulia)


A Farewell to Arms is told in retrospect by its main male character, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American attached to an Italian ambulance unit stationed in the town of Gorizia near the battlefront with the Austrians. Frederic drinks in the local taverns and goes there with his friend Lieutenant Rinaldi, a good-looking Italian surgeon priest. When Henry returns to the front from one of these binges, he is told by Rinaldi that a unit of British nurses has been stationed at a field hospital nearby and that one of them, Catherine Barkley, has captured his fancy.

Rinaldi introduces Frederic to Catherine. She finds it odd that he is an American who is effectively in the Italian army. He learns that Catherine’s fiancée has already been killed in the war. He finds Catherine very attractive.

The first book sets the scene for the further development of the plot. I consider it to be romantic.

(by Asya)


The novel "Farewell to arms”  is a big novel, that describes us all the terrors of war in details.

Hemingway shows the war theme very revealed. The first book tells us about the main character –Frederic Henry, an American lieutenant, who came back from the war. The author describes his relationships with a young nurse, who worked in a hospital – Cathrine. Rinaldi, a good friend of the main character helped them to get to know each other and the main character fell in love with Cathrine. I suppose that the whole novel will be very interesting, because I really want to know how the author will show love in the atmosphere of war.

(by Megastarosta)
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