A Farewell to Arms - Destruction Through War

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A Farewell to Arms demonstrates the way in which a pointless and futile war brings about the death of millions but, more significantly, the death of the human spirit. In every way war destroys and wastes human life. Discuss.

Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ is an exploration of love, bravery and surrender within the confines of war. But more than this, it is an exploration of the destructive nature of war. Not a physical destruction, but a psychological and an emotional one. Throughout the novel we see how “the world breaks everyone…it kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially”. We see faith in religion and in God, ripped from the souls of the soldiers on the front. We see faith in the world and in love, ripped from Catherine. And we see through Hemingway’s detached, dispassionate writing style, the way everyone within the novel becomes psychologically, and emotionally desensitized to the horrors of the war around them.

From the beginning of Hemingway’s novel, we see the brutal destruction created by the war. Through protagonist Frederic Henry, we learn quickly of “the sudden interiors of houses that had lost a wall through shelling”, and how people had “plaster and rubble in their gardens and sometimes in the street” from the bombings. This though, is only the physical aspect of the destruction brought on by war. It’s revealed to us shortly after this imagery, that war causes far worse than this. As it ripped plaster from walls in the houses of Gorizia, it ripped religious beliefs, and faith in God, from the soldiers at the front as they mock the priest for maintaining his own faith. Considering that this novel was published in the late 1920’s, the soldiers described by Hemingway were in a time of devout Catholicism, in one of the most religious countries on earth. Even now, in a time where Catholicism is not as strongly practiced, members of the clergy are, for the most part, treated with a substantial amount of...
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