Mrs. L. Kerseboom
10-1-2013 “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” (Bruce Springsteen) When people think of war, lots will think about man on the battlefield, dodging away for the flying bullets, throwing away enemy grenades and shooting the invaders of the holy fatherland. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, gives a critical view on this general thought. By using different techniques, Hemingway states multiple times that war is sad, horrible, meaningless and that the heroic image some people have is false.
During the book we can see many moments Hemingway expresses his thoughts on the war by using the main characters. He hates the war, and he hopes it is going to end soon. He does not give much value to courage and bravery. This becomes clear early on in the book when he picks up a wounded soldier, who admitted he threw away his truss (a support for a hernia) so he would not have to go back to the front again. The man was afraid he would be send to his commanding officers who were aware of the fact that the guy threw away his truss. He asked if Henry could take him anywhere else otherwise the officers would put him in front all the time. At first, Henry refuses, but the man with the hernia says: “You wouldn’t want to go in the line all the time, would you?” (Hemingway 34)Henry says he wouldn’t want that. The man goes on: ‘Jesus Christ, ain’t this a goddam war?’ (Hemingway 34)Henry decides that he is going to help the man and he brings him to another hospital. Heroic people, who think courage is very important, would see the man with the hernia as a coward. They wouldn’t help him. Henry felt sorry for the man, realizing that his life at the front, especially because he has a hernia, is horrible. Another example Hemingway refuses to consider abstract terms like courage and bravery, is when Henry shoots one of the engineers when the car gets stuck in the mud and the engineers try to run away instead of helping Henry to get
Cited: 1. E. Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms. Arkansas: Piggott, 1929. 2. W. Owen, Dulce et Decorum est. Craiglockhart, 1917.