Themes in a Farewell to Arms

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Themes in a Farewell to Arms

By | October 1999
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A Farewell To Arms: Themes

There are three major themes in Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. The first themeis enduring love ended only by mortality. The second, the effects of war on a man's ideals

and morals, things which people can and do believe during war. The last and most

important theme is Frederic Henry's disillusionment.

Hemingway shows that love can persevere in a world ruined with war. Frederic is

not looking for love, and when Rinaldi introduces him to Catherine Barkley, he thinks of

her as merely a sexual conquest. Henry considers his flirting with Catherine "like moves in

a chess game.". Henry thinks Catherine is a little bit crazy, and both admit they are acting.

At the front, Henry realizes he is lonely without her and misses her. But it is not until he

meets her, after he is wounded and sent to an American hospital, that he realizes he loves

her. Henry admits he didn't want to fall in love with her, but even so he has. Their love

continues to grow during his stay at the hospital. Their relationship is unusual since they

rarely argue. Their ideal relationship provides them with refuge from the war. However,

love, has it's limit, mortality. Henry leaves for the front again he suggests that their

romance is only ended by death. He notices because of his love he has become gentle.

When he deserts and returns to Catherine he finds comfort, order, and courage. He says,

foreshadowing the end of their love, "If people bring so much courage to this world the

world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them.". Henry has become

dependent on Catherine. His love for her is strong enough to ease his disillusionment In

Chapter 41 their baby is born dead. Henry hopelessly watches as Catherine dies and he is

left without comfort or hope.

Henry's ideals and morals change during the novel. He begins to question the legal

and immoral theories of the war and replace them with...