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“A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway Review Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 4th, 2022

The novel, A Farewell to Arms, is a classic romance written by Ernest Hemingway. Events in the story happen during on the First World War in Italy. The story features a blossoming love affair between Lieutenant Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley. The two characters meet at a battle frontline. Catherine is a British nurse working in a British hospital located in Italy. Henry is an American volunteer serving in Italy as an army ambulance driver. In this paper I will discuss the love and pain the two individuals undergo while trying to escape the harsh realities of war while taking time deal with their emotional distresses.

The story commences where Henry is portrayed as a drunken man whose free time is reserved for drinking and chasing women. His only fascination is the priest who intrigues him with a faith that is constant in times of peace or war. Ernest Hemingway portrays Henry as a man in emotional distress. He has tried everything from being a drifter to volunteering as an ambulance driver in a war torn place while searching for peace and love. Although he does not say much about his past, it is evidently that has been a lonely man who is out to seek life’s satisfaction.

Catherine on the other hand, meets Henry just as she is mourning the death of her fiancé of eight years. Catherine’s fiancé had died in the skirmishes of First World War. She starts flirting with Henry soon after explaining her loss to him. Here, we see the pain that Catherine is going through and desperately need a shoulder to cry on. The circumstances that surround her do not give her the chance to mourn the death of her loved one. In Henry she finds the solace a place where she can find comfort and forget her lose.

At the beginning of the story, they both are playing a game of love. They have burdens in their hearts and need to let go. Henry only interest is to have some fun with Catherine to forget the tough experience of the war. Catherine is also undergoing a difficult time with the death of her fiancé and the horrors of war. She therefore uses Henry as a scapegoat to forget the harsh realities of life that are drowning on her. Here, the theme of game is evident where they are playing a love game just to forget the loss and pain they are going through.

Their love develops from flirting to real love. They have many things in common and hence a better way to extent their relationship to a higher level. The irony of the matter is that while their love blossoms the war intensifies. The effects of war are too much and this makes them drift apart. Their separation acts as a catalyst as they discover the true meaning of love and the reason they should be together. Catherine is pregnant and in need of a place to stay for the arrival of the baby. Henry on the other hand has to find a way to be reunited with his love. He has to flee the war to be united with his love. He disregards the honor of his service to search Catherine. These aspects illustrate the degree of the emotional connections between the two.

The story has a sad end where the aspect of lose repeats itself when Henry loses his son and Catherine during a difficult childbirth. Henry is brought back to the drawing board where he is embraced by a feeling of despair. He heads back to his hotel with a broken heart the death of Catherine. The story is full of emotional pain that the readers are quick to experience. The author was trying to convey the extreme of war on human emotion. The way the realities of war push individuals to seek solace in one another.

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IvyPanda. "“A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway Review." January 4, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-farewell-to-arms-by-ernest-hemingway-review/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "“A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway Review." January 4, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-farewell-to-arms-by-ernest-hemingway-review/.

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