Book Review: A Farewell To Arms Essay, Research Paper
A Farewell to Arms is about Frederick Henry, an American second lieutenant in the Italian army who falls in love with an English volunteer nurse named Catherine Barkley during the first World War. After Henry is wounded, he is sent the hospital where Catherine is stationed. This where their love affair begins. After healing, Henry returns to the war effort, only to later desert the Italian army. He escapes with Catherine who becomes pregnant with his child. She dies due to complications during birth and Henry finally realizes that death is the end of all things: something that we learn Catherine already knew but Henry was unwilling to acknowledge until after his love was gone.
As far as being a war novel and a love story, the book was very well done. It mixes the combination of both love and violence very well. We are able to understand the feelings and messages sent in the conversations and scenes between Catherine and Henry and we are also able to interpret the raw, violent nature of war from the accounts given to the reader by Frederick Henry.
One negative that does stand out in my mind is the blandness of the characters, Frederick Henry in particular. He is an unemotional character in my opinion and really detracts from the story, especially considering he is also the narrator. I believe that the book would?ve been better if told in the third-person omniscient point-of-view so that the qualities of character, or I should say the lack thereof, in Frederick Henry wouldn?t show as strongly. One might disagree in saying that telling a story in the first-person point-of-view adds to the tone and feeling of the story. I agree, but not with this particular character. I?ve read where Hemingway likes to add subtle symbols and understate events as if they were normal, every-day occurrences. For the most part, I enjoy those kinds of things in a book. But in this book, those things are too understated. It?s nice to have some emotion, sometime. I just don?t get whatever emotions Hemingway is trying to make us see with the constant understatements.
One big symbol in the book is the rain. It is supposed to symbolize death and destruction. This is one aspect I did enjoy, especially at the end when it was raining after Catherine had died. I thought the times when the rain was used as the symbol for death was used very well in every aspect. Again, one might argue that its symbolism is too apparent. Well, in my opinion, this book had to have something that was apparent about it.
Ernest Hemingway.A Farewell to ArmsNew York, 1929.