A Farewell To Arms, A Farewell To Faith

1105 words - 5 pages

President John F. Kennedy once said, "Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind." Characterized by violence and terror, war takes away the beauty of humanity and exposes its evil and malicious side. Those who sacrifice their lives are continually tested by the ravenous nature of combat and the ability to take the life of another human. Majority of war participants return to reality a changed person, drastically affected by the devastating circumstances they had to endure. In his novel A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway addresses how an atmosphere of war and destruction invokes a loss of faith, belief and value for one's life, correspondingly reimbursed with a more mechanic vitality.
The main objective of war is to defeat opposing forces, gaining power and influence in your favor. Before Lieutenant Frederic Henry leaves to the front, Catherine, his lover, gifts him a necklace of St. Anthony. A religious token, Frederic asks Catherine, "You are not Catholic are you" (43). She responds by saying, "No. But they say St. Anthony's very useful" (43). With little respect to the religious background and belief, Catherine, involuntary to her own faith, interprets the necklace as an earthly, material token of bravery and safety, only desiring physical protection. Frederic questions Catherine because, as the major describes, "All thinking men are atheists" (8). Military men, who are constantly strategizing and planning, do not feel the need to consult with religion or faith. They believe that it will distract them from their manhood and make them weak. Henry describes how "It is only in defeat that we become Christian" (178). In a time when they are meant to be strong and capable, soldiers must focus on facts and information, overlooking the purity of faith and leaving only the gray habitual routine of life. Rinaldi, one of Henry's comrades at war, once stated, "I never think. No, by God, I don't think; I operate" (167). It is in the harshness and brutality of war that gentleness and fragility of humanity is broken down, leaving only unemotional and unfeeling automatons. With no imaginative drive, soldiers become unconscious to the possibilities a life of faith can bring them. They begin to live lives that have no real purpose. Henry describes this impression of uselessness by describing, "I had gone to no such place but to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled and you needed to look at the wall to make it stop, nights in bed, drunk, when you knew that that was all there was, and the strange excitement of waking and not knowing who it was with you, and the world all unreal in the dark and so exciting that you must resume again unknowing and not caring in the night, sure that this was all and all and all and not caring" (13). As long as his feelings and emotions were not visible to him, he would not care about the decisions he would make and how they would affect his life. This seemingly passive attitude and...

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