A Farewell to Arms: Love Story

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A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, is somewhat of

a Romeo and Juliet love story, with a tragic ending. In this

novel, Romeo is Frederick Henry and Juliet is Catherine

Barkley. Their love affair must survive the everything that is

around them during World War I. The setting of this novel is

war-torn Italy. The love between Catherine and Frederick

must outlast long separations, life-threatening war situations,

and the uncertainty of each other's whereabouts or

condition. This is a love story of two people who need each

other in a period of chaos.

The book A Farewell to Arms is partly autobiographical.

Hemingway , like his hero, was a Red Cross ambulance

driver on the Italian Front in World War I. Not only was

Hemingway wounded in the war, but he also recuperated in

a hospital in Italy. During his recuperation, Hemingway had a

very romantic liaison with a nurse. The relationships between

the characters in the novel, including doctors, soldiers, etc.,

reflect the actual relationships Hemingway had during his

stay in Italy, and the plot of the story is historically as well as

geographically accurate. Before Ernest Hemingway wrote

the book A Farewell to Arms, he was already regarded as

a good literary writer, but after the publication of this book

he was considered a great one. A Farewell to Arms was

Hemingway's first commercial success, selling over 80,000

copies in the first four months.

In this story there are only two main characters, Frederick

Henry and Catherine

Barkley. Frederick Henry acts as both the narrator and

central character in the novel. The reader is not told so much

about Catherine, only what is understood from Frederick's

point of view. Catherine acts as a static character in the

novel. She has already known love and lost it so she

understands that she cannot build her whole life around

Frederick. Frederick, on the other hand, is a very dynamic

character, and he has to come to grips with many of the

principles of life and death that Catherine has already

learned. There are few other characters in the book of any

significance, but of some small importance are Rinaldi, who

is Frederick's best friend on the fighting front, and also the

priest in Frederick's company whom he befriends and with

whom he has long talks about life.

The plot structure of A Farewell to Arms starts out with an

introduction to the major characters and with the setting of

the war. Hemingway also introduces the various problems

each main character struggles with throughout the novel.

Catherine Barkley and Frederick Henry are introduced to

each other casually and the reader begins to wonder what

will come of the relationship between the two characters.

This seems to be the narrative hook in the novel. Following

this the reader is told about various scenes of war, and

further introduced to Frederick Henry's character.

Frederick is then wounded in war and shipped back to the

hospital. In the hospital Frederick and Catherine are reunited

and the reader sees the development of love between the

two characters. After Frederick's stay in the hospital he is

sent back to battle and has to leave Catherine. However,

after only a short time back at the front Frederick Henry,

seeing the lack of discipline and confusion in the army's

retreat at Caporetto, deserts and returns to the stability of

his relationship with Catherine. The battle at Caporetto is the

climax in the war action part of the novel, but there is still

rising action in the love story. Frederick Henry makes a

successful escape to Switzerland with Catherine, and all

seems to go well for them for a time. A child had been

conceived during their affair but during the birth Catherine

begins hemorrhaging. She delivers the baby stillborn and

soon after dies. This scene is the...
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