The Novel “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway

Pages: 2
Words: 575

Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms is a novel about war, love, and an individual’s personal growth. The story reveals the actions of the first world war, specifically the stories from the Italian ambulance service and young man and woman Fredrick Henry and Catherine Barkley. After meeting the main female character, Henry changed and desired to live a tranquil life with his wife and son in Switzerland, a neutral territory at that war time. Frederick Henry underwent a significant change in his worldview after seeing the terrors of war and meeting his love, and such drastic changes are a part of most people’s lives, including mine.

Frederick Henry began changing his view about war after receiving an injury on the front and falling in love with Catherine. Fredrick’s experience led to excessive substance drinking and several realizations. Given the unstable mental state, he was sent to the front and took part in the Battle of Caporetto – the one remembered as a military disaster. After deserting the army and traveling to Catherine, Henry admitted, “I’m not brave any more darling. I’m all broken. They’ve broken me.” (Hemingway 209). Lieutenant Henry’s worldview changed drastically, and Barkley’s love was his only cure and light at the times of war. He realized that war is not a game nor a matter that can be dropped (Hemingway 29). Therefore, he decided to move to Switzerland with his new family to run away from war, but the story’s ending turned differently. He experienced his wife’s and son’s death, which forced him to mature quickly.

Every person undergoes a similar experience of maturing when the world inside one’s head changes. I remember being in a faith crisis when God’s existence is questioned. That is why “All thinking men are atheists” was something I can relate to as a reader (Hemingway 8). It is as if Hemingway is satiric about religious people in the book because the more person learns about the world – the more profound the disappointment becomes, and thus, faith fades away.

There are some benefits of undergoing such crisis and change of perspective. It may sound cliché, but developing strong character requires change and personal growth that involve identity and other crises. Therefore, it can be said that the major benefit I received from change of perspective and loss of faith is becoming stronger person. Usually when an individual goes through rough times, he or she later believe that by overcoming those times they can adapt to any type of stress and rough times. This is the main reason why people want to get stronger. The Farewell to Arms has a questionable ending, which I assume means two things – when person like Lieutenant Henry faces struggles in life, he or she has two choices. First one is – developing strong character and living life further, and the second one is giving up. The choice person makes in such cases might affect their life significantly, and thus I hope Henry chose living a good life, like I did after my crisis.

To conclude, Frederick Henry changed his worldview about the war after meeting Catherine Barkley, who contributed to this change along with the terrors of the war. Henry fought on the battlefield, got injured, saw things that scared him, and fell in love. All combined changed his worldview and understanding of faith. I also underwent a similar experience of rethinking faith and God, which makes this book admirable.

Work Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. Vintage Classics, 1999.