A Farewell To Arms Critical Review

1343 words - 5 pages

The Italian front of World War I, reflected every unfortunate aspect of war. The effects were far reaching; nearly 600,000 Italian soldiers lost their lives, and more than a million were wounded. Among both the enlisted and civilians, no person escaped the poisonous touch of the war. Such was the case with Frederick Henry, an American architecture student in Rome at the time the war began. When he joined ranks as an Italian Lieutenant, Frederick never anticipated the misery that would accompany military life. However, save a few chapters mid-novel, Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms was by no means a painful account of the tribulations and tragedies of war. In the midst of evil, Frederick finds salvation in the form of love which was clearly shown but in a mature manner. His relationship with Catherine Barkley is a relief from the barbarity. Their "union" led him to establish his own principles and was ultimately his refuge from the massive chaos of war. I was given several clues throughout the novel that foreshadowed Catherine's role in Frederick's development as well as the impact that their relationship had on his life. Throughout the novel I could trace a pattern of regression from the war, each time mirrored by a progression in his attachment to Catherine. By the novel's conclusion, I saw a reformation occur in Frederick Henry. He was transformed from a disillusioned young man, into an aged soul that had suffered life's greatest agonies: to lose in love and to lose in war.When I was first introduced to Henry, he was arrogant and had yet to establish any parameters for his life. I was given no indication of why he abandoned architecture to join a foreign army. I was left to assume that it was an impulsive measure, probably an attempt to establish routine or order in a chaotic life. Immediately Henry exhibits dwindling enthusiasm for the war. When conversation at the dinner table turns to the topic of where Frederick ought to vacation on his leave, I recognized critical example of his immaturity. The officers, who took joy in chiding of the priest to the outfit, insisted that Henry visit the whorehouses in each of their favorite cities. The priest however, extended a warm invitation for Frederick to visit his family's scenic, picturesque hometown. I had not yet seen Fredrick appreciate the value of the untainted and cleansing countryside, and I saw him opt for "nights in bed, drunk, when you knew that that was all there was . . .not caring in the night, sure that this was all and all not caring." When he returned to the front, he experienced deep remorse for ignoring an opportunity to see a place where "it was clear cold and dry and the snow was dry and powdery and hare-tracks in the snow and peasants took off their hats and called to you." I even realized the language and voice which Hemingway used to describe the contrasting locations highlights the fallacy in his choice.I noticed that Frederick was longing for something greater than what could...

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