Student Projects/Theme of Alienation in the novel Farewell to Arms
A farewell to Arms is a novel by Ernest Hemmingway, this novel is set during the Italian campaign of the World War I. This novel is completely set at the backdrop of World War I, describing a love affair between the expatriate Henry and an English nurse, Catherine Barkley. This novel became his first best-seller and was called as "the premier American war novel from that debacle World War I.
The focused aspects are many in this theme so thus it can be said that it has many contradictory themes, like: war and love, masculinity and femininity, and fear and courage. Although the setting of the novel is war but is also seen how the characters are able to overcome their fears, redefine gender roles, and fall in love with each other.
In the beginning of the novel Hemmingway describes about environment as “The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves. . ..” which are remarkably precise details, because of which we can say that he was precise and has given very minute descriptions. It is also seen that there is interlinking between love and war, War easily puts love in danger, makes it unstable and creates strong disillusionment of love.
The way Hemingway presented the theme of violence and death to show that there is much pain and suffering in life, but the ills of life lose their sting before man of courage and strong will-power, is also something remarkable. Hemingway's war experiences made a great emotional and psychological impact on him.
Another thing that is peculiar in this novel is that the way he symbolizes the Rain and Snow; Rain is often equated with life and growth but here it stands for death, and snow symbolizes hope, both are something which is used distinctively by other writers.
As said before there are many aspects which are focussed and have a contradictory theme in this one of it is Bravery and fear of death. At prior she (Catharine) smiles between the waves, where we get to see the way Catharine bears the labour pain to the extent when it is out of control she says “I’m not brave any more darling. I’m all broken. They’ve broken me.” Here its seen the way the grievances are experienced and the way she was brave and carried herself. In continuation of which she says” I won’t die, I won’t myself die “is the aspect where we notice the fear of Death she has, this in broader way can be accepted that the way the pupils were braver and courageous enough to handle the problems till the extent during the war time, later how the people fear death. Images of pregnancy have been linked to war and Death.
“And you’ll always love me, won’t you?”
“And the rain won’t make any difference?”
“No.” These are the sentences to point about how deeply they were in love, it was when Henry goes to meet Catharine to the hospital, they are alone, they have the above conversation.
Here is another quotation from the text where we understand that the theme of the novel has different kinds of love in it "When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice. You wish to serve."
This quote speaks about the nature of different kinds of love. At the time of this quote Henry is wounded and is in hospital. His priest-friend comes to visit him. As they talk, the priest notes that Henry does not love God. Henry agrees and says, “I don’t love much.” Then the priest utters the quote. So, the kind of love here is talked about is, Love of God.
Hemmingway’s writings are honest, direct and clear. The causes of alienation are enumerated by extracting the influencing factors like anxiety, despair, loneliness, Fear.
Hemmingway have woven two barriers love and War.
Life is shown to be endless struggle in this novel, the end of which is death and pain. Hemmingway through themes has tried to find out the clear meaning of life and at the end he comes to a conclusion that everything in the world is meaningless and human efforts mostly go unrewarded.
The themes are constructed in such way that it also serves as a source of symbols that often replace human feelings or emotions. Hemmingway constantly uses symbols to completely omit feelings and emotions of his characters. For instance, snow represents safety and peace. His use on themes also makes A farewell to Arms a classic one. Hemmingway uses themes to reveal hidden messages. An example of this is his use of love and war to show that war can destroy anything, even one of the most beautiful things on earth, Love.
A Farewell to Arms is truly one of the most powerful piece of Literature when it comes to the effects of war on humanity.