Importance of Streams of Consciousness in A Farewell To Arms
Suddenly, it enters your thoughts and streams throughout your mind; you begin to think, you are in a stream of consciousness. You are in your own world of random words and sentences, amounting to nothing, and at times making all the sense in your world, a world that only exists within your mind. That is exactly how a stream of consciousness works, according to Charles Bohner and Dean Dougherty (1216). Ernest Hemingway himself traverses into three streams of consciousness of his own in order to develop Henry's character and the over all theme of A Farewell to Arms, war and love and all feelings in between. For instance, while Henry is not really required to go to war, he volunteers, without thinking of the consequences and horrors of war. However, along the way, he manages to encounter love, incur physical pain, and realize the horrors of war. And so, having to face a possible death while at the front, Henry finds himself in an extraordinary position. He is somewhere between life and death and while between these two extremes his experiences shapes him into a more mature character.
His first experience happens as follows:
A flash [...] and a roar that started white and went red and on and on in a rushing wind [...] I felt myself rush bodily out of myself and out and out and out and all the time bodily in the wind. I went out swiftly, all of myself, and I knew I was dead [...] Then I floated, and instead of going on I felt myself slide back. I breathed and I was back. (Hemingway 54)
Looking at this first example of a stream of consciousness, one does not know what to make of such a statement, what has happened? Is Henry dead? Well, as much as one would think that he is dead; he is not, he is merely in a state of delirium. And so, having presented these few lines, Hemingway has allowed Henry to enter a stream of consciousness that unravels his most inner thoughts and views at the time of this tragic event. Henry has captured the reader and brought him into his immature, fearful mind.
At the same time, the reader finds Passini in his own stream of consciousness as he slowly pleads with God, Jesus, and Mary to let him live or to take his life right there and then. He calls to his mother and the three mentioned above:
Oh mama mia, mama Mia...Dio te salve, Maria, Dio te salve, Maria. Oh Jesus shoot me Christ shoot me mama mia mama Mia oh purest lovely Mary shoot me. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Oh Jesus lovely Mary stop it. Oh oh oh oh. (55)
Passini, like Henry, seems to be talking to himself and is also in a state of delirium. He wants to live, but the pain is so great that he would rather die. With this technique, Hemingway, not only develops Henry's and Passini's characters, but also allows the reader to enter each character's mind in such a way as to almost become Henry and...