Story Elements in A Farewell to Arms
The book A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway, is a classic novel about the love story of a nurse and a war-ridden soldier. It captures the inspiring trials and tribulations of the disillusioned soldier caught between love and war. Driving an ambulance on the Italian front in World War One, Frederick Henry discovers his values as he realizes his love for Catherine Barkley, an innocent English nurse. In A Farewell to Arms, various story elements are developed: the conflicts that occur internally and externally within Frederic's life, the characterization of Frederic Henry, the use of symbolism, and the dominating theme of love during a widespread war.
Love and war is an important theme in the book, and the relationship between Frederic and Catherine is explored by Hemingway. Frederic's ambulance driver, Passini, expresses his thought on the war: "It doesn't finish. There is no finish to war . . . War is not won by victory . . . One side must stop fighting" (50). The love between Catherine and Frederick must outlast long separations, life-threatening war-time situations, and the uncertainty of each other's whereabouts or condition. This love story plays out in war-torn Italy during World War One, where Italy is battling Austria. The novel portrays Henry as a drunk who travels from one house of prostitution to the next. Henry feels detached from life and is on a quest for identification in which he gives a particular
insight about how he feels about women: "clear, cold, and dry (38). Henry loves to play the role of a womanizer and is an American fighting a war in another country. Henry meets Catherine Barkley, near the front between Italy and Austria-Hungary. Catherine suffers during this war before she meets Henry because she loses her fiancÃ© during the war. At first Henry wants to seduce Catherine. He tells her that he loves her but she catches on to