Ernest Hemingway: A Farewell To Arms
Ernest Hemingway is considered to be the most outstanding figure in American literature. Before I get to his great novel - A Farewell to Arms, I have to say that Hemingway is also the author of many other incredible writings like:
Three Stories & Ten Poems - Tri poviedky a desať básní, Torrents of Spring - Jarné riavy, Death in the Afternoon - Smrť popoludní, Winner Take Nothing - Víťaz nič nezíska, Green Hills of Africa - Zelené pahorky Afriky, To Have and Have Not - Mať a nemať, Men Without Women - Muži bez žien, The Sun Also Rises - Slnko aj vychadza, The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories - Piata kolona a prvych 49 poviedok, For Whom the Bell Tolls - Komu zvonia do hrobu, The Old Man and the Sea - Starec a more, Across the River and Into the Trees - Cez rieku a pod stromy, A Moveable Feast - Pohyblivý sviatok, and of course A Farewell to Arms, which I will discuss right now.
I will start with the character analysis:
Frederic Henry - is an American ambulance driver and a lieutenant in the Italian army. He is the narrator and protagonist of the novel. He is well-disciplined, very friendly and helpful, I have to say, that he has a very good heart. I think he is also described by a sort of apathy from life, but this feeling of apathy is pushed away, when Henry falls in love with Catherine and begins to realize the hostile nature of the world.
Catherine Barkley - is an English nurse serving at the Italian front. She is characterized primarily by her disregard for social conventions as well as an unshakeable devotion to Henry. She loves him very much and would never harm him in any way. [„Bojím sa dažďa, lebo niekedy v ňom vidím samú seba“, pg. 110]
Priest - the young priest of the division. He is a friend of Henry's. He is interesting; because his faith in God is described in a different way then we are normally use to. He didn't choose the faith because he wanted to escape from the world, his belief in God stems from a deliberate choice. He helps Henry in, different ways and they often have long discussions which are very useful to Henry.
[„Nemôžeš vedieť nič o šťastí pokiaľ ho nemáš“, pg. 72]
Rinaldi - is a surgeon at the Italian front. He is Henry's roommate. The priest is concerned with higher values, but Rinaldi seeks immediate pleasures and sensual relationships.
But like the priest he also realizes the futility of the war and he uses sex to forget everything bad.
Helen Ferguson - is a friend of Catherine, but unlike Catherine she does not share her disregard for social conventions. She strongly disapproves of the love affair between Henry and Catherine but still she wants to help them. She strongly demonstrates devotion to personal values, rather than abstract ones and therefore she is respected because of it.
A farewell to Arms is my first book I read by this author. I got to be honest and say I was not very thrilled when I heard we are going to read a book by Ernest Hemingway, but when I started reading I was pleasantly surprised, I was actually more and more liking it. I am usually reading books from realism, the form and language of those books are very difficult to understand and the text is usually very perplexing, so therefore I was really fascinated when I got to read this book, because the language and the form was very understandable and enjoyable. The author also often uses different Italian expressions, tenente = lieutenant. As I mentioned before the main character Henry is the narrator. Hemingway uses clear and comprehensible language in the text. It is really a pleasure to read. You can find here the use of inner monologue, for example; "Ach môj Bože, prosím, nedopusť, aby mi zomrela. Urobím pre teba všetko" pg. 213. You can also find lots of different symbols throughout the writing like for example; snow and winter, which contrast the hot, dust-filled battlefield. [„...vyhodilo ma to do vzduchu, keď sme jedli syr...“, pg. 64] – That was the situation when the accident happened Henry
I also liked that Hemingway actually wasn't forcing the romanticism in his novel. The story plot is linear, thus I was reading the book with great enthusiasm. Hemingway uses also humor in his novel, which can be spotted for example in Henry's dialogue with Miss Van Campen. This book is full of deepest detail descriptions of different situations which were for me interesting to read because of the simple sentences.
It’s very important to mention something about the connection between Frederic and Catherine. Their relationship went through different changes from the beginning to the end.
Frederic was taking her like just a temporary entertainment. It can be spotted for example in this quotation: “.....Bozkal som ju na obidve zatvorené oci. Zazdalo sa mi ,že mozno je trochu strelená. Čo na tom , ak je. Na tom nezáleží, do čoho idem. Toto je lepšie než chodiť každý večer do bordelu pre dôstojníkov.....Vedel som, ze Catherine Barkleyovu nemám rád, ani som nepomýšľal, že ju budem mať rád. Toto je hra ako bridž....”, pg. 27.
Well, then throughout the book his feelings are slowly changing and actually he falls in love. You can see it in this citation:, “Keď som ju videl, zaľúbil som sa do nej. Všetko sa vo mne prevrátilo“....“Musíš ostať“, povedal som, “Ó ty si úžasná!“. “ Šialene som ju miloval. Nemohol som uveriť, že je naozaj tam, a pevne som ju držal pri sebe“....“Máš ma rád? Naozaj ťa mám rád“. “Zošalel som sa do teba. Poď, prosím! Počuj, ako nám bijú srdcia!”, pg. 75. So what is actually the theme of this masterpiece?
A Farewell to Arms is an anti-war novel. The author wanted to express the futility of the war; he labeled the war as a symbol of total chaos, unnecessary dying and destroying human values in contrast with love.
So what do I think about the novel?
At the beginning I didn’t want to read a book by Hemingway, because I thought that all books from that period of time, which I read, were boring and written almost in the same way. I was really surprised when I started reading this one. I have to say it was much easier to understand and the story line was really easy to follow. This author made an incredible impression on me and I can’t wait to get to read his other pieces.