A Farewell to Arms Summary and Critical Analysis

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Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in suburban Oak Park, IL, to Dr. Clarence and Grace Hemingway. Ernest was the second of six children to be raised in the quiet suburban town. His father was a physician, and both parents were devout Christians. Hemingway had an aptitude for physical challenge that engaged him through high school, where he both played football and boxed. Because of permanent eye damage contracted from numerous boxing matches, Hemingway was repeatedly rejected from service in World War I. Hemingway also edited his high school newspaper and reported for the Kansas City Star, adding a year to his age after graduating from high school in 1917. After this short stint, Hemingway finally was able to participate in World War I as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. He was wounded on July 8, 1918, on the Italian front near Fossalta di Piave. During his convalescence in Milan, he had an affair with a nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky. Hemingway received two decorations from the Italian government, and he joined the Italian infantry. Fighting on the Italian front inspired the plot of A Farewell to Arms in 1929. Indeed, war itself is a major theme in Hemingway's works. Hemingway would witness firsthand the cruelty and stoicism required of the soldiers he would portray in his writing when covering the Greco-Turkish War in 1920 for the Toronto Star. In 1937, he was a war correspondent in Spain, and the events of the Spanish Civil War inspired For Whom the Bell Tolls. During this period following the birth of his first child, Hemingway began to acquire a series of nicknames that eventually culminated in the well-known moniker “Papa. “Papa” came about for a number of reasons, including, according to official biographer Carlos Baker, Hemingway’s desire to be respected, admired, and obeyed. In addition, “Papa” dovetailed with Hemingway’s reputation as a rough-and-tumble outdoorsman and adventurer. In January 1923, Hemingway began writing sketches that would appear in In Our Time, which was published in 1924. In 1927 Hemingway published a short story collection, Men Without Women. 1928 was a year of both success and sorrow for Hemingway. In this year, A Farewell to Arms was published, and his father committed suicide. Clarence Hemingway had been suffering from hypertension and diabetes. This painful experience is reflected in the pondering of Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls. In addition to personal experiences with war and death, Hemingway's extensive travel in pursuit of hunting and other sports provided a great deal of material for his novels. Bullfighting inspired Death in the Afternoon, published in 1932. In 1934, Hemingway went on safari in Africa, which gave him new themes and scenes on which to base The Snows of Kilamanjaro and The Green Hills of Africa, published in 1935. In 1950 he published Across the River and Into the Trees, though it was not received with the usual critical acclaim. In 1952, however, Hemingway proved the comment "Papa is finished" wrong, in that The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. On July 2, 1961, he died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. He was buried in Ketchum. "Papa" was both a legendary celebrity and a sensitive writer, and his influence, as well as some unseen writings, survived his passing. In 1964, A Moveable Feast was published; in 1969, The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War; in 1970, Islands in the Stream; in 1972, The Nick Adams Stories; in 1985, The Dangerous Summer; and in 1986, The Garden of Eden. Hemingway's own life and character are as fascinating as in any of his stories. On one level, Papa was a legendary adventurer who enjoyed his flamboyant lifestyle and celebrity status. However, deep inside lived a disciplined author who worked tirelessly in pursuit of literary perfection. His success in both living and writing is...
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