A Farewell to Arms Film vs Text

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Michele Deegan
Dr. Smith
03 March 2013
Put Out on the First “Date”: The Selective Representation of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms The deeply philosophical work of Ernest Hemingway was taken under artistic license and possibly political agenda when it was produced in film. In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway paints, with broad strokes of disillusionment, over the ideals of honor, war and love as a preoccupation or distraction from the realities of life. The reader is left with the impression of the constant human drive to distract itself whether with alcohol, violence, anesthesia or passion. But the film focuses on the love story and the trials it faces through a backdrop of faith and war. The alterations made in the representations of the characters, love and war leave the viewer with only a hint of the deeper questions presented in the novel.

Lieutenant Frederic Henry is portrayed in novel as a generally well disciplined, reserved and good natured. He did not partake in the teasing of the priest despite his lack of faith and even endeavored to mollify any perceived slights with the man. Henry could never muster any reason for joining the Italian army other than just being in Italy at the time and speaking the language. He does not feel any particular allegiance, even having the opinion that, “It was impossible to salute foreigners as an Italian, without embarrassment” (Hemingway 23). Henry just doesn’t seem to care one way or the other which army he was a part of so long as the action would distract him from anything else. In the novel, he assists a man trying to get away from the front line, grows attached to a woman because she is there, becomes an alcoholic, and shoots men in his command because they wouldn’t help with the retreat. And yet these actions were permissible in the fact that they were a result of his circumstance and not his character. He was presented to the reader as a man ever looking for something to occupy his mind and body from reality....
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