A Farewell to Arms - Use of Weather

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A Farewell to Arms is a gripping novel that tells the tale of an American soldier, Frederic Henry, in Italy during The Great War who is torn between his duty as an officer and the love of his life, a nurse named Catherine. In the novel, Ernest Hemingway brilliantly uses nature to symbolize and foreshadow certain events in the couple's difficult journey to escape the war and be with each other. Rain, snow, lakes and rivers all represent either loss, safety, or freedom for the two.

Rain clearly symbolizes loss, death and tragedy in the story. This is established very quickly, as in chapter one Henry states that, "At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came cholera ... in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army" (4). Right away, the reader should pick up on the symbolism of loss. After Henry falls in love with Catherine, the night he has to leave her to go back to the front there is fog that turns into a cold rain. As the novel progresses, rain foreshadows many other events such as the German offensive and massive Italian retreat, in which many Italian soldiers are killed. It also foreshadows the loss of Henry's own unit. The day that Henry and his men are to retreat, Bonello mentions the wine they are drinking and Aymo replies, "To-morrow maybe we drink rainwater" (191). The next day Aymo is actually killed and Henry's unit falls apart. The big example of rain foreshadowing loss occurs at the end of the story. When Henry and Catherine are at their lodge in the mountains, the night they decide to move to the town for the baby, it starts to rain. Once the baby comes, it rains and Catherine, as well as the child, die. This was clearly indicated as Catherine once said, "I'm afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it" (126). Rain is definitely one of Hemingway's most prevalent tools for foreshadowing in this story.

Snow is used in the novel as a symbol for safety and security. It acts as a temporary cease to the...
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