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A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Essay by   •  April 24, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  727 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,659 Views

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A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, set during the reign "of President Wilson"(pg.58) a time of havoc due to World War I. Lieutenant Frederic Henry, the protagonist of the novel, is a young American ambulance driver serving in the Italian army who unknowingly falls in love with an English nurse, Catherine Berkley. Although chaos and commotion has taken over the city of Italy, both secretly find time for themselves to empower their passion for love in a world of their own.

At the beginning of the novel, "the cool nights, the fighting in the mountains beyond the town"(pg.5) set the cold, wintry days of Italy where Henry arranges to tour. The following spring, upon his return to the front, Henry recognizes that "the mountains beyond were brown with a little green on their slopes"(pg.10), finally meets Catherine Barkley, "a tall..blonde that had tawny skin and gray eyes"(pg.18), an English nurse at the nearby British hospital and the love interest of his friend Rinaldi. Rinaldi, characterized as "good-looking" and a "great friend" of Henry (pg.12), however, quickly moves on from Catherine, and finding a good opportunity Henry becomes involved in a game of seduction. Grieving from the recent death of her fiancé, Catherine longs for love so deeply that she will settle for the mere feeling of it. Her false passion, awakens a desire for emotional interaction in Henry, whom the war has left numb and drained of all feelings. He awaits for the war to end even though he feels as "the war has changed too"(pg.6). Just then he quietly watches the King pass by with his "little long neck body and gray beard like a goats chin tuft"(pg.6)

When Henry is wounded on the battlefield, he is brought to a hospital in Milan to recover- where he saw "white clouds and the sky blue"(pg.86) after many dull, gray days. Several doctors recommended that he stay in bed for 6 months and then go on a necessary surgery on his knee, though he felt that this long period recovery was not needed thus, appointing Dr.Valentini a surgeon who agrees to operate immediately. Henry learns that Catherine has been transferred to Milan and begins to get cured under her care. During the following months, Catherine and Henry's love intensifies dramatically changing from no longer simply a game in which they exchange empty promises, to a powerful and real love which they characterize as a desire where "you wish to do things. You wish to sacrifice. You wish to serve."(pg.72).

Once Henry's damaged leg has healed, the army granted him 3 weeks convalescence leave, after which he is to return to the front. He tries to plan a trip with Catherine, who is pregnant with his baby. The following day, Henry was diagnosed with jaundice, and Miss Van Campen, the superintendent of the hospital, accused him of bringing the disease by himself through excessive drinking. Believing



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