An American's love for an English nurse during the First World War ends in tragedy
Hemingway's second full-length novel, published in 1929, calls on his own experiences during World War I, when he worked for the Red Cross in Italy, was wounded after only six weeks on duty, and recuperated in a hospital in Milan, where he had a romance with a nurse. The blend of fact and imagination in A FAREWELL TO ARMS, however, is artful; Hemingway, who returned home after his brief experience, had to research the combat scenes, which were so convincing that many readers refused to believe he had not actually been a soldier in the trenches. The hero of A FAREWELL TO ARMS, Frederic Henry, is an American serving in the Italian army as an ambulance driver. Convalescing from a leg wound, he falls in love with an English nurse, Catherine Barkley, who becomes pregnant. After Frederic participates in the bloody defeat at Caporetto and the horrifying retreat from the area by what is left of the army, he and Catherine decide that their only course is a "farewell to arms": he deserts, and they make their way to neutral Switzerland. There the tragic love story is played out, far from the front. When the novel ends, Frederic is alone, walking in the rain--another of Hemingway's existential heroes, forced to confront the emptiness and sterility of his life. In A FAREWELL TO ARMS, Hemingway used to great effect the prose style he had perfected in his previous work: the spare, staccato sentences that were so influenced by his friend Gertrude Stein. His naturalistic, unsentimental storytelling seems to make only more tragic the love story that is at the novel's center, and the bleak failure of hope and heroism behind Frederic's desertion.
- Fiction + Literature Genres, Fiction + Literature Themes
- Types of Characters, Literary Genres + Types of Novels, War + Military, Classics, Human Qualities + Behavior, Conflicts + Dualities, Love + Relationships + Sex
- April 1, 1997
- April 1, 1997
- Ernest Hemingway