Review of A Farewell to Arms

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Various books are written to serve a purpose in society. A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway, brings attention to the concept that nobody can escape loss. Everyone experiences pain from losing someone or something at some point in life, and this novel represents the idea that nobody can prevent it from happening. This novel still holds significance in today’s society because people lose others all the time. Writing my research paper on this novel helped me gain more insight into how life changes so quickly, and the only thing people can do is appreciate life and what it has to offer. 

A Farewell to Arms tells the story of the romantic connection formed between ambulance driver Frederick Henry and Nurse Catherine Barkley during World War I. The horrors of the war that are described in the novel, such as a cholera epidemic, are what push Henry to leave the front and attempt to escape tragedies. Henry does escape certain horrors at various points in the novel, but he doesn’t escape the ultimate tragedy at the end. Not only does Henry escape death twice, but he also finds his peace within his love for his nurse. Catherine also finds peace with Henry as she recovers from the loss of her fiance. The situations that Henry and Catherine experience consist of the two trying to escape the heartbreak and losses that are derived from war. However, the two couldn’t prevent the tragic end to their love story no matter how hard they tried. Henry uses these experiences to learn about the connections between tragedy and morality and the connections between love and war. 

Hemingway drove an ambulance during World War I, so his recollection allows for a realistic interpretation of life during the war. Hemingway’s own experiences also allowed him to support the purpose of A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway’s strong imagery in the beginning of the novel also allows for an interpretation of the terrors that many soldiers faced. For example, Hemingway describes the cholera epidemic that “only” killed seven thousand soldiers during this time. Seven thousand deaths contribute to an immense number of losses during the war, but Henry tried not to let this bother him. He focused on the disease “only” killing a small amount of soldiers when compared to the number of soldiers that died altogether. Throughout the novel and the experiences of war, Henry attempts to escape the various tragedies caused by war, but Henry inevitably faced the tragic end to his love story at the end when Catherine died. Maybe Henry did escape many horrors and tragedies of the war, but he couldn’t prevent the devastating tragedy of losing the love of his life. 

I really enjoyed reading this novel because it provided a love story between two people during a difficult period of time while also providing a realistic interpretation of how war affected everyone. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a good romance or anyone who likes books about history and wars. If you get some free time, consider checking out A Farewell to Arms.

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