Farewell to Arms Motifs

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The “War to end all Wars”, eradicated millions of innocent, vexed souls and desecrated the survivors morally. In the novel A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemmingway elaborately illustrates his motifs to create deep meaning and intricate ideas for Frederick Henry. Hemmingway uses recurring symbols known as motifs, including rain and snow, masculinity, and Catherine’s hair to accentuate symbolic ideas and realistic perspectives about WWI. Rain represents the disintegration of happiness, whereas snow exhibits the contrary, a temporary delay to the abominations of the war, each weather condition intricately exhibiting the use of iceberg principles to constitute meaning and foreshadowing. Three forms of masculinity exist in the novel; the domineering personality, competence, and the macho man that visits whorehouses and drinks alcohol on a regular basis. Henry is a round character, and his form of masculinity changes throughout the novel, realizing that the war was much more complex than he had originally anticipated, thus loosening his responsibilities. There is also Catherine’s hair which is seen as a true beauty in Henry’s perspective, erasing any thought of the war, and bringing him to an ephemeral solace from the harsh realities of the world while developing their relationship. The two most potent motifs are snow and rain, controversial denotations, used multiple times in the novel to represent happiness and its destruction. In Henry’s analysis of the geography in his Cabin in Switzerland, he notices, “That fall, the snow came very late” (289). The snow implies that war will be temporarily delayed, bringing about an ephemeral solace for the soldiers involved due to their inability to fight in the weather condition, putting them in stand-downs. Since snow represented happiness, it also expressed Henry’s mood of happiness, away from war, in a peaceful country with his beloved Catherine. The strong use of snow creates an abstract tone in the passage, because with all...
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