Literature / A Farewell to Arms
'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
" to be 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". 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, directed by Frank Borzage
and starring Gary Cooper
, was nominated for Best Picture and won an Academy Award
Provides Examples Of:
- Arc Symbol: The frequent use of rain throughout the novel. Such as Catherine saying she's "afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it," and of course, it's a rainy day when the ending happens.
- 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."