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Imagery In Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms

3739 words - 15 pages

Imagery in A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

 
     Imagery placed strategically through the novel A Farewell to Arms shows how well Ernest Hemingway is able to prepare the reader for events to come. Catherine Barkley, the English nurse who falls in love with Fredric Henry, an American in the Italian army, states, "I'm afraid of the rain" (125), as they stay in Milan. She goes on to explain "I'm afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it. ... And sometimes I see you dead in it" (126). The foreshadowing this provides is very ominous and frighteningly accurate. Hemingway even continues to strengthen this foreboding by saying, "She was crying. I comforted her and she stopped crying. But outside it kept on raining" (126). He uses imagery from nature to contrast the clarity of the mountains, the danger of the plains, and the unknown of the rain.

For Fredric Henry, the mountains provide a sense of safety. Fredric and the ambulance drivers are eating in a small dugout, waiting for the offensive to start where they will be hauling injured men back to the hospital. A shell lands nearby that shakes the ground. One comments: "'Four hundred twenty or minnenwerfer,' Gavuzzi said. 'There aren't any four hundred twenties in the mountains,' I said" (54). This gives a feeling of more safety, because the larger guns are harder to transport in the mountains. Fighting is also less successful in the mountains. Tactically speaking, "a mountain is not very mobile," (183) so "in the old days the Austrians were always whipped in the quadrilateral around Verona. They let them come down onto the plain and whipped them there" (183). The mountains do not just provide safety in the war; they also help as Fredric and Catherine escape to Switzerland. As they row across the lake, the mountains in the moonlight are watching over them: "Looking back I could see the long dark point of Castagnola and the lake with white-caps and beyond, the moon on the high snow mountains" (271). The police in Switzerland, as well, are helpful and courteous to the two. When they are arrested in the customs town, the policeman, after seeing they have money and plans, "His attitude toward us became less haughty" (281). Other critics also add to this image of safety in the mountains. Carlos Baker quotes Ludwig Lewisohn saying "Switzerland with it's blending in so simple and moving a fashion of the eternal notes of love" (Baker 61). E.M. Halliday also states "it can be allowed that the lovers are not free of the contaminating shadow of war until they have escaped up the lake to Switzerland and established themselves in their little chalet above Montreux" (Halliday 70)

The mountains give a sense of home in A Farewell to Arms. After Fredric and Catherine escaped into the Swiss Alps, they stay "in a brown wooden house in the pine trees on the side of the mountain and at night there was frost so that there was a thin ice over the water in the two pitchers on the dresser in...

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