A Farewell to arms
Henry Frederick is an American ambulance driver on the Italian front during World War I. He falls in love with a British nurse, Catherine Barkley. He is wounded, so he meets her again at a hospital in Milan and she reciprocates his love. When he goes back to the front, he finds himself in the Caporetto retreat of the Italian army. He eventually deserts the army to be with Catherine, who is pregnant. They escape to Switzerland, where she dies giving birth to a baby, who also dies.
•Henry is a classic Hemingway hero in that he is a stoic who does his duty without complaint.
•He acts honourably in the midst of what will be a losing battle.
•He loses, but in the way he faces death he demonstrates his manhood.
•Yet Henry also undergoes tremendous development through the course of the novel.
•At the beginning of the novel, he has never experienced true loss, believes that war is dreadful but necessary, has a lust for adventure, drinking, and women, and sees Catherine as just another diversion.
•As the war intensifies, however, he becomes deeply pessimistic about it and realizes that his love for Catherine is the only thing he is willing to commit himself to.
•The quality of the language that Henry uses to describe Catherine’s hair and her presence in bed testifies to the genuine depth of his feelings for her
•She has lost her fianceé in the war, so at the beginning she is emotionally frail.
•She is ready to throw herself into a new relationship in order to escape the loss of the old one.
•Anyway, she slowly develops true love toward Henry and wants to be with him in an idealized union apart from the rest of the world.
•Through the constant understatements and humor in her dialogue, even at moments of extreme danger such as the labour that goes wrong, she reveals herself to be a stoic match for Henry, the female side of the Hemingway hero, who does much and says little.
•The narrator is Frederick himself, so the reader obviously shares his point of view.
•Anyway he does not describe himself, he never reveals his age, his current occupation, where he lives, if he’s got married.
•He doesn’t even tell us how long ago the events he’s narrating have occurred.
•The effect is that the focus is entirely on the story itself and the way the characters were when they lived it.
The reality and inevitability of the war.
•The novel offers masterful descriptions of the conflict’s senseless brutality and violent chaos.
•As the columns of men begin to crumble, so do the soldiers’ nerves, minds, and capacity for rational thought and moral judgment.
•War is the inevitable outcome of a cruel, senseless world, the extension of a world that refuses to acknowledge, protect, or preserve true love.
Love and Loss
•In spite of his natural cynicism about love, Henry falls in love with Catherine.
•Catherine’s love is absolute, it goes to the exclusion of everything else in the world.
•Anyway their relationship is always surrounded by loss:
The loss of Catherine's former lover in war before the novel begins.
The loss Henry will have to live with at the novel's end.
The incredible intensity of Henry and Catherine's relationship seems almost dependent on the spectre of loss threatening them from every side.
•The loss of Catherine's former lover in war before the novel begins.
•The loss Henry will have to live with at the novel's end.
•The incredible intensity of Henry and Catherine's relationship seems almost dependent on the spectre of loss threatening them from every side. Anyway, as The Old Man and the Sea demonstrates, man does not actually fight against nature, on the contrary he fights to find his place within nature. Both Santiago and the marlin display qualities of pride, honour, and bravery, and both are subject to the same eternal law: they must kill or be killed.