This novel talks about the story of an American ambulance driver, Henry, on the Italian front during World War I. There, he falls in love with an English nurse, which name is Catherine. Then they meet again in Milan, in a hospital were he is sent after being wounded. Henry decided to desert the army, because all he wants it to be with Catherine. Then, we find out that she is pregnant, so they escape to Switzerland; at the end, she dies in giving birth to their baby, who also dies.
Principal theme is the war: the novel offers vivid descriptions of the war brutality and violent chaos, for example the scene of the Italian army’s retreat is one of the most profound evocations of war in American literature.
War in the novel is presented as something you can’t control, something that is inevitable and that is created by a world which refuses knowledge and to protect and preserve true love.
Hemingway uses the technique of the first-person narrator: Henry is the narrator and he discovers what is going on step by step, as the reader does. Henry is full of noble ideals when at first he joins the army, but in the end his beliefs concerning church, patriotism and love are shared due to what he lived during the war.
The language is very simple, but the active participation of the reader in the act of understanding is still requested and it’s also very important, since the meaning of the story is not revealed directly.