A Farewell to Arms Theme

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Giselle Roman
Set 5
11-17-08
Theme of Death in ‘A Farewell to Arms’
The structural elements of plot are the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. ‘A Farewell to Arms’ is broken up into five different books, each with different structural elements of plot. The book, as a whole, has one main climax. This is when Henry decides to desert. He goes on to say, “I was going to forget the war. I had made my separate peace (243).” Henry accepts that it is not his battle to fight and comes to terms with that fact. The resolution of the novel is the ending. “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain (332).” The final scene in the book is also the final “farewell to arms”, when Catherine dies and Henry walks out into the rain, a symbol throughout the novel of death. Hemingway uses pattern of structure, type of conflict and structural elements of plot to support the theme of love and war being almost too powerful, causing one’s demise. His deft use of the rain throughout the novel works for both the war and love aspects. The ominous rainfall during the war sets the atmosphere, but the use of the rain with Catherine and Henry is a symbol for Catherine’s approaching death and the death of their love. Hemingway makes his explicit opinion that any intense emotion, particularly the heat of war and the sudden rush of love, causes a person to burn out in the end.
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