A Farewell to Arms: The Meaning of Life

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A Farewell to Arms: The Meaning of Life
Written as a semi-autobiographical novel during Ernest Hemingway’s experiences as an ambulance driver during World War I, A Farewell to Arms is a distinguished classic that will remain on the list of great literature. It is a love story. In fact, it is a “compelling love story” (Warren 45). But there is a story behind the love story that sets the standards for the whole book. The characters go on a quest of meaning and certitude in a world of “nada” (Warren 45). It is a classic because it sets the character on a quest for a definition of life. Hemingway sets one important thing straight in the novel: he defines the main character, Frederick, as a man who is troubled by living in a world of nothing and is on a quest for to discover why he is in this world. He portrays the novel as a novel of self-identification through Frederick’s relationship with the people who surround him.

Throughout the novel, Frederick goes around dividing people into two groups: the aware and the unaware, “the disciplined and the undisciplined”. The officers he works with fall in the “unaware” category, while his roommate Rinaldi falls in the “aware” category. The officers are the ones “who do not know what is really at stake, who are deluded by big words, who do not have the discipline. They are the messy people, the people who surrender to the flow and illusion of things” (Warren 49). Rinaldi, on the other hand, is a person who would fit in the disciplined category. Rinaldi may party with the other officers and bully the priest a little, but his personal relationship with Frederick shows that he knows what he is around for. He has the “discipline of his profession” (Warren 49); he loves what he does and that he believes that sensual pleasure isn’t everything to life as the officers believe it is. Rinaldi says in the novel, “I am only happy when I am working” (Hemingway 87) meaning that being able to fully provide for himself and being him and...
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