Literature: A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway's second novel, written in first-person narration, published in 1929, and semi-autobiographical.Frederic Henry, a volunteer American ambulance driver, serves in Italy during World War I. Whilst abroad, he meets British nurse Catherine Barkley and becomes attracted to her. He gets a chance to consummate his attraction to her after being wounded at the front and shipped back to hospital. By the end of the summer, Catherine is three months pregnant. Once healed, Frederic returns to the front just in time for it to collapse and the Austro-Hungarians to come pouring through; he, like the other officers, are rounded up by the "battle police" and executed for the defeat. Frederic escapes through some quick Bad Assery and reunites with Catherine, whereupon the two escape to Switzerland in a rowboat. There they maintain an isolated but idyllic existence until Catherine goes into labor. The baby is stillborn. Catherine hemorrhages and dies. The end.Hemingway was not a happy man.Besides many characters being based on people the author knew, this novel is useful to Hemingway scholars as it provides the first incarnations of the famed Hemingway "code hero" (known to modern tropers as the Marty Stu, or perhaps the Broken Ace). Frederic Henry is The Stoic, relates to the world in a largely physical manner, he has trouble not being a Jerk Ass sometimes, and his thoughts revolve around girls and drink. Main Characters in Hemingway novels would continue in this vein throughout most of his body of work.The novel is considered one of the great classics of American fiction, and chances are that if you attended an American high school, you read it there. (This just highlights one of the downsides of Hemingway's "iceberg theory" of fiction: it relies on Subtext, which, depending on your age and/or maturity level, you might not get.)The novel has been adapted for film and television several times. The 1932 version, which starred Gary Cooper, was nominated for Best Picture and won an Academy Award for cinematography.
Provides Examples Of:
- Crapsack World "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
- Death by Childbirth: Catherine hemorrhages to death after she loses the baby.
- Downer Ending: Frederic loses both his love and his child at the end.
- Florence Nightingale Effect: Catherine falls for Frederic as she treats him.
- The Sound of Martial Music: The Austro-Hungarians appear as the main antagonists for most of the book.
- Too Happy to Live: Frederic and Catherine have such a bright future together, until she dies at the end.
- Train Escape: Frederic escapes execution on one.
- Undignified Death: The Red Shirt mechanic who dies when Henry is injured in the beginning of the book. Blown apart while eating cheese.
- War Is Glorious: Utterly averted. Although there are numerous moments throughout the book that serve to mock the idea, the one that takes the cake has to be when Henry risks his life to get some cheese to eat with his pasta, and then is subsequently nearly blown to pieces along with the rest of his mechanics while eating it.
- World War I: The Italian campaign, to be precise.