A Farewell To Arms
A Farewell to Arms
The novel opens with a description of artillery-laden troops marching slowly through the rains of late summer and autumn. One of these men is the American Frederic Henry, an ambulance driver. Henry is currently in the Italian army, at the Italian front during World War I. The main action of these first few chapters begins when Henry returns from winter leave in early spring. His roommate, Rinaldi, is enamored of a British nurse, Catherine Barkley, at a nearby British hospital. Rinaldi convinces Henry to visit the hospital with him and Henry finds himself attracted to Catherine. A few days later, Henry comes back to see Catherine and the two kiss
The relationship between Henry and Catharine becomes more defined as Henry begins to pay her regular visits. However, the relationship is one devoid of love-to Henry, it is as if they are playing a game. Catherine recognizes this as well, and finally declares that it is a rotten game we play, putting an end to the false lovemaking.
Meanwhile, the offensive is about to resume, and Fredrick Henry is dispatched to the front to drive the wounded back to hospitals. At the front, Henry and his fellow ambulance drivers sit in a dugout, eating pasta and waiting for the offensive to begin. One of the drivers, Passini, speaks out against the war, saying that War is not won by victory. . . . One side must stop fighting. Why don't we stop fighting? As they talk, shells shatter over their heads until finally a trench mortar shell blasts open the dugout. Passini's leg is blown off and he dies; both of Henry's legs are severely wounded.
At a field hospital, Henry is visited first by Rinaldi, then by the priest. Rinaldi tells Henry that he will get a medal of bravery from the Italians, and jokes about developments. The priest, on the other hand, has more serious matters to talk about. He tries to explain to Henry how There are people who would make war . . . [and] there are other people who would not make war, and how the latter are at the mercy of the former. The priest also tells Henry that love is a willingness to serve someone else, and that true happiness can be achieved through love.
After a few days at the field hospital, Henry is moved away from the front to an American hospital in Milan. Because of an excess of nurses at the front, Catherine is being sent there as well.
Frederic Henry, an American ambulance driver and a lieutenant (tenente) in the Italian army, is the narrator and protagonist of the novel. The focus of the novel revolves around his love with Catherine Barkley as well as his steady disillusionment with the war. Henry is characterized initially by a sort of detachment from life-though well-disciplined and friendly, he feels as if he has nothing to do with the war. These feelings of detachment are pushed away when Henry falls in love with Catherine and begins to realize the hostile nature of the world. In this way, Henry serves the function of a character who becomes initiated in Hemingway's philosophy of an indifferent universe and man's struggle against it
Catherine Barkley is an English nurse serving at the Italian front. Due to the untimely death of a fiancé previous to the events of this book, Catherine has already been initiated into Hemingway's philosophy, and exemplifies the traits of the Hemingway code hero throughout the novel. She is characterized primarily by her disregard for social conventions as well as an unfaltering devotion to Henry.