The novel A Farewell to Arms

The novel A Farewell to Arms should be classified as a historical romance. Many people in reading this book could interpret this to be a war novel, when in fact it was one of the great romance novels written in its time. When reading this book you notice how every important event of the war is overshadowed by the strong love story behind it. The love story is circled around two people, Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley. Frederic is a young American ambulance driver with the Italian army in World War I. He meets Catherine, a beautiful English nurse, near the front of Italy and Austria.

At first Frederics relationship with Catherine consists of a game based on his attempts to seduce her. He does make one attempt to kiss her, and is quickly slapped by an offended Catherine. Later in the story, Frederic is wounded and sent to the American hospital where Catherine works. Here he finds a part of him he has never had before, the ability to love. This is where his feelings for Catherine become extremely evident. Their relationship progresses and they begin a passionate love affair. After his stay in the hospital, Frederic returns to the war front.

During this period, Hemmingway heavily indicates the love Frederic has for Catherine. It is evident that Frederic is distracted by his love for Catherine. During a massive retreat from the Austrians and the Germans, the Italian forces become disordered and chaotic. Frederic is forced to shoot an engineer sergeant under his command, and in the confusion is arrested by the Italian military police for the crime of not being Italian. Disgusted with the Army and facing death, Frederic decides he has had enough of the war; he dives in to the river to escape. After swimming to safety, Frederic boards a train and reunites with Catherine.

She is pregnant with their baby. With the help of an Italian bartender, Catherine and Frederic escape to Switzerland, and plan to marry after the baby is born. When Catherine goes into labor, the doctor suddenly discovers that her pelvis is too narrow to deliver the baby. He attempts an unsuccessful Cesarean section, and she dies in childbirth with the baby. To Frederic, her dead body is like a statue; he walks back to his hotel without finding a way to say goodbye, seemingly lost forever. I found it to be evident that there was a lot of foreshadowing and symbolism in this story, especially concerning the rain.

The rain always seemed to be around when something bad was happening and when Catherine and Frederic were apart. When they were together the rain suddenly disappeared. It seemed that Hemingway was using the rain as a vehicle to show Frederics generally hidden emotions. I liked this book very much but there were a lot of things I was uncertain of at the end of this story. Did Catherine really love Frederic? Did he really love her? Were they both just looking for closure at a hard time in their lives? I do truly believe that they did love each other but Hemingway makes some things unclear.

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