Analysis Of A Farewell To Arms English Literature Essay

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The novel A Farewell to Arms is actually semi-autobiographical novel of Ernest Hemingway himself and about how he lost the love of his life. I didn't realize this at first because he does change the characters names instead of plainly stating himself as the main character. There are not many main characters that caught my attention, but the main character I liked was Rinaldi, an over confident surgeon and a ladies man apparently. He is the main reason I believe the story is so interesting.

In the opening of the book they introduce Frederick Henry the novels narrator and protagonist. He is an American officer that is commissioned in the Italian army, his job while serving in the Italian army is to drive ambulances on the front lines of World War I. He is just returning from leave and meets up with his old war brother Rinaldi in the barracks. Rinaldi is excited to see Henry or as he calls him "baby", this I never really understood throughout the story. He begins to tell Henry about the beautiful nurses that are all around and that there is one especially that really catches his eye. He tells Henry about the most beautiful nurse named Catherine that he is infatuated with and that he must go out with him later that night. The main reason he wants him to go out is because she had a friend that is almost as pretty named Helen that he wanted to introduce him to. He agrees to go and once they arrived Henry immediately falls head over heels for Catherine and doesn't even care that Rinaldi was interested before him. A couple days later Henry goes back to see her and they eventually kiss within their short time of knowing one another.

The relationship between Henry and Catherine begins to grow and they begin to come closer with each other as each day passes. As fast as they had met was as fast as they had to be parted. The front lines were heavily in need for ambulances and Henry was called for duty immediately. While out on the front lines Henry and his fellow drivers were eating pasta and chatting with each other. As they were talking artillery shells were exploding very close, and then finally one hits their position knocking Henry unconscious and severely injuring his legs. He is taken to the closest hospital and awakes to Rinaldi standing over him. Rinaldi talks about how Henry will great medals for this and even be a hero, Henry jokingly just says" I was just eating cheese".( A Farewell to Arms 63). After a couple of days at the hospital, Henry is relocated from the Italian hospital to an American hospital in Milan. Rinaldi tells Henry he is a very lucky man because the beautiful Catherine would be there in Milan. A surgery is to be done on his leg but Catherine is not worried because she knows he is strong and can handle it.

During his stay at the Milan hospital Catherine coincidently changes to the night shift. This leads to them being more intimate with each now that no one is around at night. They end up having sex every night he is there. As months go by and Henry begins to get back on his feet they go out for lunch together and talk about things they see in the future with each other. Henry doesn't want to leave quite yet and comes down with a case of jaundice and has to stay an additional two weeks. At the hospital one the head nurse Miss Van Campen uncovers the empty liquor bottles in his armoire and realizes that he had drank himself sick to avoid leaving. This makes the head nurse furious and she reports his actions in order to have his leave revoked.

Their last night in Milan before Henry departs; they swear their love for each other. The day after his return is when the story really begins to get more into the war. Henry is sent to the mountains on the Bainsizza. The conflict there is rougher than most, and after a few days they are ordered to retreat. As a Lieutenant, he is in charge of his other drivers. They get the task to transport hospital equipment into Udine. The actions of the retreat has made it impossible to move because of the cars and military vehicles. He decided go off the main road and stay on smaller roads. They pick up two engineer sergeants and two women along the way. The journey is cut short when they get bogged down in deep mud. Henry tells the engineers to help them get the vehicles unstuck; they refuse and flee so Henry shoots one of them. As they continue on their way in the other trucks they get stuck again. This time they continue without the women and on foot. During this journey one driver is shot by another Italian who is startled and one driver decides to surrender himself. They eventually find shelter and the next day join up with a group of retreating troops. This will turn out to be a poor choice for them as they soon find out. They are spotted by the battle police who are soldiers that are finding officers mainly Major and above that have abandoned their troops and executing them for being cowards stating that "It is because of treachery such as yours that we have lost the fruits of victory."(A Farewell to Arms 223).

Henry escapes the outrageous interrogations of the officers by fleeing for the ice cold river. He swam with the current and stayed under as long as he could. It was easy for him to do because they were relentlessly firing upon him. He reaches the shore and finds a train and hides there until he reaches Milan. Henry meets up with his friend Simmons the horrible opera singer. His friend gives him some civilian clothes and finds out that Catherine has gone to Stresa. He reunites with Catherine and the two decide to escape to Switzerland. They borrow a tiny boat from the barman Emilio and row all night and finally arrive tiredly in Switzerland. They begin to settle in a beautiful town called Montreaux and decide to put the war in their past. Meanwhile Catherine is pregnant and they decide to move closer to the hospital in a town called Lausanne. One early spring morning Catherine begins to go into labor. Catherine is in agonizing pain and even the gas for pain could no longer help her. The doctor does a Caesarian section on her to get the baby out. As he completes the procedure he realizes that the baby was dead, it was strangled by the umbilical cord. Catherine dies soon after from the multiple hemorrhages she had endured. Henry stayed next her until she passed. After everything in his life was gone in just one night all he could do was walk alone in the rain back to his hotel room.