A Farewell to arms is a novel by Ernest Hemingway. The literary analysis of themes in A Farewell to arms enables readers to understand various subjects in this novel. The publication of this novel took place in 1929. A Farewell to arms usually depicts the disappointment of the Lost Generation due to war. The novel is also famous for its autobiographical elements.
Literary Analysis of themes in A Farewell to Arms
The themes found in the novel by Ernest Hemingway are love, war, and abandonment.
Hemingway has not honored war in this novel. The novel is set in the First World War times. He has rather shown that this is a frightening reality of life, which is also presented by many of the characters. Here, the war between Austria and Italy is portrayed where panic is at its peak. Henry served as an ambulance driver for the Army and seems confused about joining it. He thinks maybe he has to be a part of this war just because he lives in this country and speaks their language. His girlfriend Catherine who serves as a nurse called all this chaos, “silly front”.
Frederic received a heinous wound at first even when war was not started. After that, when he was posted back to the spot, there was pessimism and regret amongst the Italian Army. Italy was facing a huge loss of human lives. He felt like if this war will never stop. They had a fight the entire summer and could not reach their desired mountainous area. Earlier, Henry was sure that they will win the war, but now somewhere inside him tells that this war will continue forever with no conclusion.
At the end, when Henry flew away to Switzerland from Italy. he refused to read the paper. He says that he has made peace inside him and does not want to read the newspaper as it will remind him of war.
Despite the war, the thing that is visible throughout the novel is the theme of love. All that time, Henry was running away from love, and eventually, he was in love with Catherine who was heartbroken after the death of her previous lover in war.
At the start of the story, the priest talks about love to Frederic, upon which he replies that he has been happy in the nights with women. the priest tells him that it is not real happiness rather real happiness is the one that makes a person to sacrifice for the other person.
When Henry got injured and was admitted in Milan, he realized that he is in love with Catherine. All of his thoughts were diverted towards her, which was not the case before.
Catherine’s love for Henry also appears to be intense when she told him that he is like her religion and he is everything for her. Such emotions in the story reveal that love is the basic theme of the novel over which the entire story stands.
The theme of abandonment is present in the novel at several places. Sometimes, it was intentional and sometimes forcefully. When Catherine’s fiance died, she had this fear that Henry will leave him as well. Henry also abandoned their relationship just so that they could meet again, later. Catherine’s friend Helen is also scared that she might leave her someday. Apart from that, many other characters are also seen abandoning each other during the war. For instance, Bonello left drivers to surrender as a prisoner. Henry abandoned the army to live his own life and to avoid execution. He also took the decision of not abandoning Catherine instead opt out of the war was more important for him.
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