Changing Perspective of Religion in A Farewell to Arms
In Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, the main character, Lieutenant Fredric Henry, undergoes a dramatic change in perspective over the course of the novel. It is most interesting to see how the Lieutenant's views on religion change as he becomes more involved in the war.
Early in the novel, we are introduced to the Abruzzi. The Abruzzi is a town in Switzerland, of which Henry's friend, the priest, is very fond. His father lives there and it is, for the priest, a place of quiet solitude, religious freedom, and respect. He longs for the day when he can go and do God's work in his hometown: "in my country, it is understood that a man may love God. It is not a dirty joke"(Hemingway 71). The priest offers Henry a chance to go to the Abruzzi and rest with his father. Henry declines, and instead decides to go to a whorehouse. At their next meeting though, Henry feels remorse about this decision. "I myself felt as badly as he did and could not understand why I had not gone. It was what I had wanted to do...and I explained, winefully, how we did not do the things we wanted to do; we never did such things"(Hemingway 13). Henry cannot go to the Abruzzi at this point in his life. He is not ready for the life which waits for him in Switzerland, at least not yet.
Much later in the novel, as Fredric is thinking about Catherine in the hospital, he has an unusual memory: he recalls a night in camp when he put a log covered with ants on a fire. He remembers thinking at the time that "it was the end of the world and a splendid chance to be a messiah and lift the log off the fire and throw it out where the ants could get off onto the ground...[He] thinks the cup of water on the burning log only Jeff Marsey steamed the ants"(Hemingway 328). Henry does...