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A Farewell To Arms Analysis. Throughout the novel A Farewell to Arms the main characters search for some type of tranquilizer to help them deal with the war.

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Introduction

A Farewell to Arms Throughout the novel A Farewell to Arms the main characters search for some type of tranquilizer to help them deal with the war. Each character is search of something that will make them feel better about the horrors of the war going on around them. Hemingway shows how the cruelest realities can permeate and destroy the illusions that the characters construct to alleviate their pains. The story takes place during World War I; which is a time full of disillusion, sadness and loneliness. The protagonist, also serving as the narrator, is Frederic Henry, an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian war. Frederic is a classic Hemingway male character. He is a man of stoic action with his own convictions of honor. In the beginning of the novel he displays these many attributes, but he eventually evolves in the course of the reading. He gives up his macho pretentiousness and womanizing ways in return for a life with Catherine. Catherine Barkley is an English nurse that Frederic falls madly in love with. Rinaldi, is a surgeon and also a friend of Henry's and finally there is the Priest, that becomes in some way a confidant to Frederic. The novel principally is a love story that describes the transformation of Frederic and Catherine's feelings of flirtatiousness to a deep enduring love. The war itself serves as an instrument for bringing them together as well as temporary separating them. ...read more.

Middle

After Henry sustains his injuries, Catherine is there to take care of him. Before long, their flirtations turn to true feelings for one another. The love that began as a diversion for the both of them, becomes something powerful that helps to keep them going. Their bond helps provides both of them as a means of escaping the harsh realities that surround them. Catherine is a compelling character in the story. From the beginning, the reader is made to believe that she is to some extent, insane. When she divulges the loss of her fianc´┐Ż, we then can understand her behavior is associated with her grief. Catherine uses her physical attributes to seduce men as her coping mechanism. Like Henry, she originally views the relationship as a flirtatious diversion, but quickly comes to view it as a powerful force in her life. The love that they share eventually allows them to move forward. At some point, however, instead of being a comforting force, it also becomes something that they need to find a distraction from. Henry tries to keep his mind off of Catherine when he is in the process of running away. I could remember Catherine but I knew I would get crazy if I though about her when I was not sure yet I would see her, so I would not think about her, only about her a little. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is always there, just not as a foremost reality. The idea is both love and war lead to sadness from which there is no escape. Actions and words that lead to some relief are only temporary. In the end, none of it really matters. Catherine says it best when she says "it's just a dirty trick" (Hemingway 296). The most tragic part of the story is that when Catherine and Henry finally escaped the war to live a life they had dreamed of in Switzerland, Catherine and the baby die in childbirth. In the end, Henry realizes that everything falls short. No one comes away in the end with any time of new knowledge or control, we only come away broken and lost. He tried to alleviate Catherine's labor pains by increasing the gas higher and higher, but the end result was still the same, she died. It is evident throughout the novel that he to tries to "turn up the gas" on his own life when things became too much to bear, but eventually he too ended up alone in the rain. The need for escape is evident with all of the characters in the book, but they all end up "dead" in some way. Rinaldi and Catherine actually die physically and Henry and the Priest die emotionally. The final result is that no matter how much you try to escape, ignore, and relieve pain, there is no actual escape. Life is cruel and we all must face its harsh realities. This story seemed to mirror Hemingway's own disillusionment with life. ...read more.

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