Essay, Research Paper: Farewell To Arms

Literature: Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway, was a typical love story: a
Romeo and Juliet placed against the odds. In this novel, Romeo was Frederick
Henry and Juliet was Catherine Barkley. Their love had to survive the obstacles
of World War I. The background of war-torn Italy added to the tragedy of the
love story. The war affected the emotions and values of each character. The love
between Catherine and Frederick had to withstand long separations,
life-threatening situations, and the uncertainty of each other’s condition.
This novel was a beautiful love story of two people who needed each other in a
period of complete upheaval. Frederick Henry was an American who served as a
lieutenant in the Italian army to a group of ambulance drivers. At the start of
the novel, Frederick was a drunk who traveled from one house of prostitution to
the next and yet he was discontent with his unsettled lifestyle. Further in the
novel Frederick became involved with Catherine Barkley, an English volunteer
nurse who served in Italy. She was very experienced with love and loss. She lost
a fiancй in the war. Frederick slowly fell in love with her and in his
love for her, he found commitment. A Farewell to Arms was set in World War I
where Italy was battling with Austria. In 1916, Henry was granted a leave, but
returned shortly after squandering his money. He learned the British nurses were
stationed in the area hospital and that was how he met Catherine. They were
instantly attracted to each other. They fell in love and for once Frederick
didn’t feel lonely and insecure. It was time for him to go to the front line
and Catherine gave him a St. Anthony medal for protection. Henry got wounded and
transferred to a hospital Catherine worked at and she volunteered her nights to
spend with him. Frederick returns to war and things were terrible in Italy. He
decided to escape to see the birth of his child. Catherine was sick and this was
when you see who Henry really has become. “I sat outside the hall. Everything
was gone inside of me. I did not think. I could not think. I knew she was going
to die and prayed that she would not. Don’t let her die. Oh, God, please
don’t let her die. I’ll do anything for you if you won’t let her die.
Please, please, please, dear God, don’t let her die. God please make her not
die. I’ll do anything you say if you don’t let her die.” (330) This quote
was one of the most saddening in the novel. Frederick Henry finally found
someone to love, admire, and settle down with, and something terrible happened.
It revealed how he has changed as a person. He changed from and over-sensuous
womanizer to a person who had settled down and sought everything he hoped in
life, but lost. Frederick Henry showed his loyalty to the individuals and small
groups in his life, and near the end of the novel he showed grace under
pressure. Henry strove to cross the Switzerland border and seek refuge from the
Italian police to help Catherine. Throughout the novel he never once spoke about
his feelings or thoughts about war. He didn’t talk about the hatred for
Carabinieri or his feelings when he was cheerful or dismal. When he entered
Catherine’s hospital room, for the first time, he prayed to God and showed
some emotion. He cried. In the end of the novel, Frederick is faced with a
life-changing occurrence. He lost something of great value to him. It took the
loss of something so important for the real person Frederick Henry was to
surface. After this occurred, he was offered some company for his way home, but
he declined and walked alone. He asked God to save his greatest love after
taking his child and did not really receive and answer. He concluded death is
the end and when it comes, there is no where to go. Frederick Henry never truly
became a code hero until the end when he accepted death as the end of existence.
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