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Book Review: ‘A Farewell to Arms’ by Ernest Hemingway

Frederic Henry, the main protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s realistic novel A Farewell to Arms, undertakes an oblique process that leads to his downfall.

The novel is divided into three patterns. The first one is where the protagonist portrayed as a caring savior for humanity. He is full of sacred emotions and refined values, like Altruism and Humanism, that urge him to devote himself to serving in the first world war while being in his country, America.

After joining the front as a lieutenant in the ambulance corps of the italian army, Frederic Henry becomes a hedonistic, frigid, and emotionless man. He becomes interested in drinking strong alcohol and going to whore houses to cope with the pain he is undergoing silently.

Here Ernest Hemingway uses the theory of omission, where he tends to omit some internal description to let the reader discover and deduce the hidden thoughts and reasons why Frederic Henry becomes a debauched person.

Moreover, the writer involves F.H in a game of seduction and a love affair with the English nurse Catherine Barkley to reveal his gradual transmutation, and to emphasize on the duality of his actions. Hence, his interest in war and saving lives loses ground. He is threatening warfare because of his beloved woman’s pregnancy. He becomes selfish instead of selfless, and his desires and goals have changed. He wants to run away from the war after volunteering in the front to be with Catherine. Catherine Barkley, with whom he experiences real love and romance, serves as a new meaning in a painful life.

This is performed as the second pattern.

At the end, the love affair loses the ground and disappoints Frederic Henry by taking his lover and their baby, leaving him alone and lost. And this is where the last pattern is portrayed.

Ernest Hemingway uses some inverted natural images; like the rain during Catherine’s labor, to show death as a disaster.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Book Reviews, Coming of Age, Opinion Piece