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.
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.
...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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
book sets the scene for the further development of the plot. I consider it to
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.