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.

Authors Avatar

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.  

The war caused many types of damage to those it affected, whether it was emotional, physical, or psychological.   As the story progresses, we see the different types of strategies the characters use to ease his or her own personal torment.   Many involved were trying to find ways to escape and cope with the harsh realities. The characters in A Farewell to Arms seem to epitomize this struggle.   They turn to their own personal coping mechanisms to sustain the illusion that they were actually finding comfort.   They each try to close their eyes to their fears of the realities they were facing thus allowing them some sort of peace.  

Join now!

Frederic Henry is established as having a sense of detachment from the war in the beginning.

“At the start of winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera.   But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army” (Hemingway 10).

Losing seven thousand soldiers in a war is horrible, but losing them to something other than combat is even worse.   Henry’s use of the term “only” shows the reader his complete indifference to the losses.   Because he is an American, he is already at a ...

This is a preview of the whole essay