Hemingway On War Essay, Research Paper
One common strand that runs through all of the stories are the effects of the war upon its
participants. Nick Adams of “In out time” seeks to escape the harsh environment of war
by enveloping himself in nature, most notably in “The Big Two-Hearted River.”
In the opening scene of “The Big Two-Hearted River” Nick is upset over the
destruction of the town of Seney. The town, which Nick said was not there, was burned
and destroyed. After seeing the destruction of the land Nick looks to the serenity of the
water. “Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom
and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins.”
As he continued his voyage into nature the text says, “He felt he had left
everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs. It was all in back
Even though there are no shots fired in the novel, “The Sun Also Rises” is heavily
linked to the war. Many of the main characters are haunted by the war, which shapes
them into the people they are. The characters all casually avoid the topic of war in
The effect of the war is most evident in the characters cruelty to one another and
their alcoholism. They are driven to alcohol to escape the war and its effect it is having
upon them. They escape by traveling from one country to another and one cafe to
another. Jake alludes to this by saying, “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from
one place to another.”
Bullfighting in the novel is a representation of the thin line between life and death
and the control of ones fate. Jake and Montoya appreciate the way Romero gracefully
straddles the line of danger by not using tactics to create a false impression of danger.
This grace under pressure is something Jake takes pride in observing without practicing in
his own life.
The effect of the war is heavily evident in “Farewell to Arms.” Lt. Henry, an
ambulance driver in the Italian Ambulance Corps., feels the effect of the war both
physically and mentally. In the novel Henry’s fried Rinaldi says, “This war is killing me.”
Rinaldi later told Henry of his possible contraction of syphilis and explained that one way
or another the war was making everyone ill.
When Henry plunges into the icy water to evade the firing squad he experiences his
“Farewell to Arms.” At that time the war was over for him and he did not see anything
worth fighting for. This is also an example of the way in which Henry shows grace under
The war turns Henry into a cynic. In the novel he accepts what life gives him, but
realizes that whether you were good or bad “They killed you in the end.”
More pervasive in “Farewell to Arms” is the concept of time. Also as made
evident through the quotation, time is something that is completely unstoppable. “Time,
which is all we have,” says Hemingway in “Death in the Afternoon.” With the death of
Catherine and his baby he has lost everything he held dear. All his dreams for the future
had disappeared and he had nothing left to do, no place to go and no one to see.
Both Barnes and Henry are forced to live their lives in ways different from what
they wish. Barnes is unable to be with the woman he loves due to a physical inability.
Henry’s idyllic way of life is taken from him by the death of Catherine.
The characters in the stories are neither heroes nor wimps. The concept of
creating role-models lends itself to failure. I believe Hemingway wants to show the reader
how each person should make their own decisions in life and not emulate others in their
actions. I do not believe anyone could fault Henry for not lifting himself up by the
bootstraps immediately after such a tremendous loss. The characters as in many ways of
life fall in the gray area. By doing this he creates characters that are very accessible to the
The simplest things we spend our lives learning are the ideas that our future much
like our past is out of our control. Many people spend their lives trying to control time
and time is the most uncontrollable facet of life. Life can change in an instant, as
happened to Henry in “Farewell to Arms.” Hemingway believes people should accept the
uncontrollable idea of time and experience life as much as possible.
Another idea that Hemingway presents is that there is no such thing as “The Good
Life” you only have the life that you are faced with, which in many cases is filled with
disappointment and rejection.