Love and War
Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel A Farewell To Arms documents the journey of Frederick Henry, a young American soldier serving in the Italian army during World War I. As a Red Cross ambulance driver during World War I himself, Hemingway is able to use his novel as a vehicle to convey to readers his own wartime experiences and personal opinions, including his thoughts on love and relationships during war. Through his description of the deep and complex relationship between Henry and Catherine Barkley, an English nurse, Hemingway is able to comment on the power of love and relationships to escape the pain that accompanies war. However, through Catherine’s untimely demise, Hemingway additionally shows that although love during war can be powerful and passionate, it is only temporary.
When Catherine and Henry meet, they are both looking for a way to escape from the pain that they are experiencing as a result of the war. Hemingway presents many different characters participating in the war with individual ways to escape from the war. Rinaldi uses his ability to seduce women, the Priest who uses his faith and his love for God, and Henry and Catherine use their relationship. Catherine is struggling to overcome the loss of her fiancé and initially describes their courtship as a “game.” On page 31 after they are done with the alleged “game,” and Henry tries to tell Catherine that he loves her, she says, “Please let’s not lie when we don’t have to. I had a very fine little show and I’m all right now” (Hemingway). Catherine explains that the motivation behind her seduction of Henry is her desire to escape the unfortunate reality of her loss. Likewise, Henry uses to relationship to avoid acknowledging or talking about the horrors of participating on the front. In each other, both Henry and Catherine find temporary reprieve from the agony that is plaguing them.
In addition, Hemingway showcases the power of love as motivation to act selflessly when...
Cited: Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print.
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