The Themes To ‘A Farewell To Arms’

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In “A Farewell to Arms”, author Ernest Hemingway uses setting and foreshadowing to create the theme and express the feelings of love, excitement, and suspense in his story.

The story takes place during WWI, at which time Italy was fighting the Germans. This conflict later foreshadows event that take place with the main character Frederic Henry. Due to the use of war as the setting, the theme of the story is filled with danger and excitement, as well as suspense and worry for Frederic Henry. Later in the story Frederic Henry falls in love with Catherine Barkley, an English nurse aid in the local hospital, in which the love between Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley creates suspense for what will become of them and foreshadows events that occur later in the story.

Supporting Paragraph 2= A introduction to Ernest Hemingway, Pulitzer, and Nobel Prize winner.

a. This paragraph briefly talks about Ernest Hemingway, the author of “A Farewell to Arms”.

Supporting Paragraph 3 = The use of the war and Italy, together help create the theme for this story. Using the war the author is portraying a dark theme for his main character where the author foreshadows danger and struggle for Frederic Henry. The use of Italy is contrary to the war in that Italy is naturally beautiful and considered a romantic place; the author using this setting creates a theme of light, love and happiness.

When the character Frederic Henry is on duty in the front lines the theme is dark and the author is creating suspense and danger. The reader is expected to be worried for Frederic Henry especially because he has to return to Catherine Barkley. While Frederic Henry is at the hospital in Italy with Catherine Barkley, the theme is much more upbeat and happy; the author creates the feeling of love between Catherine Barkley and Frederic Henry.

Supporting Paragraph 4 = Frederic Henry is an American Ambulance driver who joins the Italian Army his character is that of a strong but romantic man who is dedicated to his work as a soldier and passionate about his love for Catherine Barkley.

Expand on the character of Homer Barron.

Use textual examples to support characterization and dark theme.

Supporting Paragraph 4 = This paragraph explains how the theme impacts the story and help elaborate on the mood of the characters and their interaction with their environment.

a. The author uses the setting to help magnify the theme, in this paragraph the character Frederic Henry returns from a trip and describes a beautiful and peaceful Italy, expanding on the calm and happy theme occurring at this point of the story.

VI. Supporting Paragraph 5-7= Paragraph five through seven discuss how the author uses a great deal of foreshadowing to prepare his readers for the events that take place at the end of the story. The author uses foreshadowing to create the suspense and maintain the excitement of the story.

The fifth paragraph goes into detail on how the attitudes and mannerisms of some of the characters foreshadow events of the future.

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The six paragraph covers how Frederic Henry changes in attitude and becomes less interested in the war, foreshadowing that he will have a conflict in the future that involves going against the Italian Army and choosing between his job and the woman he loves.

Paragraph seven is on the author’s use of foreshadowing to predict the love between Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley. There are many examples showing that Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley will be together and fall in love.

VII. Supporting Paragraph 8-9= The theme is an important element of this story, it helps give the characters emotion and adds to the excitement of the story.

a. In paragraph eight the theme changes when Frederic Henry returns to duty and some unfortunate events take place. Throughout this paragraph the use of the theme is discussed on how it impacts the story.

b. The ninth paragraph elaborates more on how important it was for the author to use certain themes to get his ideas to the reader, in this part of the story Frederic Henry has just escaped and is heading to Switzerland with Catherine Barkley. The theme is one of danger and confusion, which helps the reader understand the characters feelings.

VIII. Conclusion

In “A Farewell to Arms” the author Ernest Hemingway uses the setting and time period to help foreshadow events that take place throughout the story as well he creates a theme of love, danger, excitement, and suspense.

In conclusion “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway uses a complex manner of structure to create the right setting and theme to conveys his writing, and bring this story to his readers. With the foreshadowing of events we can better understand the plot, characters and setting put forth by the author, to better understand and comprehend his work.

Mickey Fuentes

Katie Sanders

Composition II

03 January 2011

Foreshadowing, Setting, and Theme for “A Farewell to Arms”

In the novel “A Farewell to Arms”, by Ernest Hemingway the author uses the setting to inform the reader on what emotions the characters are experiencing, and what the theme for that setting is. The author creates different themes throughout the story to help the reader understand what the characters are feeling and to add to the adventure, suspense, and love of the story. The author also uses foreshadowing techniques that lead the reader into the suspenseful events that unfold, and give the story its unique theme. “A Farewell to Arms”, is the story of an American ambulance driver named Frederic Henry, who joins the Italian Army during WWI, and falls in love with an English nurse named Catherine Barkley. Frederic Henry is wounded, and sent to a hospital in Milan, where Catherine Barkley follows Frederic Henry; in the hospital their love grows and Catherine Barkley becomes pregnant. Due to unfortunate circumstances Frederic Henry is accused by an administrator of trying to avoid the war and is punished, and immediately sent to the front lines. Upon his return to duty, Frederic Henry encounters a devastating tragedy, and ends up becoming a deserter. Later Catherine Barkley and Frederic Henry hide in Switzerland where they move close to a hospital to give birth to their baby, unfortunately the baby is a still born and Catherine Barkley dies.

Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899 in the city of Oak Park in Illinois, and died in Idaho on July 2, 1961 (Britannica). Ernest Hemingway was a fictional writer who had revolutionized American literature with many of his works, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 (History Channel), and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 for his story “The Old Man and The Sea” (Nobel Lectures). Ernest Hemingway served in the Red Cross during WWI as an ambulance driver, where he was wounded in Italy, therefore sharing some similarities with his novel “A Farewell to Arms”. His unforgettable personality and passion for adventure are seen in his work reflecting that Hemingway was perhaps America’s most famous writer (NY Times).

The setting for “A Farewell to Arms”, takes place in Italy during WWI, where the author uses great detail to create the theme for his setting. The author recreates the image of battle for the reader by using detailed descriptions such as, “There were mists over the river and clouds on the mountain and the trucks splashed mud on the road and the troops were muddy and wet in their capes; their rifles were wet and under their capes the two leather cartridge boxes on the front of the belts, gray leather boxes heavy with the packs of clips of thin, long 6.5 mm. cartridges, bulged forward under the capes so that the men, passing on the road, marched as though they were six months gone with child”, (A Farewell to Arms). Whenever the author chooses to create a theme of excitement, or adventure and danger, he uses the war for his setting. The author will also use bad weather during the war to make the theme seem more dark and dreadful often using details of the environment to add to the horror of war.

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In chapter three Frederic Henry returns from a trip and is introduced to Catherine Barkley, by his friend Rinaldi. The setting here is one of peace and tranquility as Frederic Henry meets with Catherine Barkley. The author uses the seasons and colors as indicators to the emotions that the characters are feeling, going into great detail when someone is sad, the leaves change colors. Also most of the war takes place during the winter months and all the romance that Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley experience happen during the summer months, the author does this to create a natural setting that helps the reader better feel the characters emotions.

The novel “A Farewell to Arms” uses the theme of love, and war to tell the story of Frederic Henry, and Catherine Barkley. As stated earlier the author uses the war to create a dark setting filled with danger; however he also uses Italy to create a setting of love and passion. When Frederic Henry returns from his trip in chapter three he describes Italy as being, “warm and like the spring and he walked down the alleyway of trees, warmed from the sun on the wall, and found that he still lived in the same house and that it all looked the same as when he left”, (A Farewell to Arms) the author describes it in such a way that it almost seems pleasant; “Italy, a Country of Song” (Kansas City Star). Throughout the novel the author uses the war, and Italy to differentiate between the two themes of love and war creating two atmospheres for his characters, one of sadness and one of happiness.

In “A Farewell to Arms” the foreshadowing plays an important part in explaining the mood, and emotions felt by the characters. With characters such as the priest, and the way that he is treated by the other soldiers, the reader can understand that if the soldiers don’t respect a man of God, then they would not be committed to a war that they didn’t agree with. Also the officer, who is the Lieutenant, is always speaking in a mournful and repetitive manner, alludes to a great tragedy he will encounter in the future with the loss of a lot of his men. When Frederic Henry is in the front lines we can see his attitude for life changes as he remarks that the war does “not have anything to do with me” (A Farewell to Arms), the reader can see that Frederic Henry is losing interest in the war and is not strongly committed to the war, as he should be.

The author uses foreshadowing throughout this story to allude to events that are going to happen later on in the story. When Frederic Henry is with a soldier who admits to tossing his truss, so that he could worsen his hernia to evade service; the readers are surprised to find that Frederic Henry helps the soldier get admitted to the hospital, which begins to create a theme of suspense. This theme of suspense continues throughout the story as the events escalade, and Frederic Henry is wounded and finds himself in a hospital in Milan. Frederic Henry doesn’t seem to care at this point of the story, and doesn’t show excitement when his friend Rinaldi promises him that his wound would bring him glory; Frederic Henry doesn’t even shows interest in being decorated with medals for his service. Once Catherine Barkley arrives in Milan and begins to care for Frederic Henry the readers can see how the author foreshadows that their love with grow and become stronger, because of how Catherine Barkley helps and cares for Frederic Henry in this time of despair.

The author uses foreshadowing in this story to show the reader how Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley will eventually be together. In the story, Frederic Henry imagines that Catherine Barkley and him head to a hotel where Catherine Barkley would pretend that Frederic Henry was her dead lover “We would drink the Capri and the door locked and it hot and only a sheet and the whole night and we would both love each other all night in the hot night in Milan” (A Farewell to Arms), this sentence foreshadows how Catherine Barkley and Frederic Henry will eventually go from playful romance to actual love. In a conversation between Frederic Henry and the priest, they discuss the difference in lusting over a prostitute, and being in love with someone. The priest explains to Frederic Henry that love can make a man give of himself, and make sacrifices for the sake of others. Frederic Henry somewhat ignores the priest, however this foreshadows to the love that Catherine Barkley and Frederic Henry will soon have, and the sacrifices that he will make in order to be with her. Once Frederic Henry healed from his wounds, he was suppose to take leave and go on a vacation with Catherine Barkley, who earlier told Frederic Henry that she was pregnant, however he develops jaundice and is forced to stay in the hospital for longer. One of the administrators sees this as an act of trying to evade from service and gets Frederic Henry into trouble, foreshadowing the horrible events that are to come.

The theme of the novel changes at the climax of the story and now that the main character has been returned to the front lines of the war, the theme shifted and became dark, and confusing. After the unfortunate circumstances in the hospital at Milan Frederic Henry is sent to the front lines of the war, where he again becomes detached from the war and want to return to Catherine Barkley. While in the front lines the Germans over run the Italians, and they must all retreat; Frederic Henry with some engineering sergeants find two girls, and end up taking an alternate route, and unfortunately get stuck. With all these negative things happening, the readers can sense that Frederic Henry is emotional unraveling and losing himself, this is shown when he shots the engineering sergeant for not helping in freeing the vehicle from the mud. Frederic Henry and the other engineering sergeant go and hide in a barn, but are later discovered and captured by the battle police, the author creates chaos and confusion at this moment, with officers being shot on site for retreating. Fearing execution Frederic Henry escapes into the river and becomes a deserter, adding to the suspense.

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The theme changes once more after Frederic Henry escapes, and returns back to Catherine Barkley where the couple escapes to Switzerland. The theme here is calm while Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley hide in Switzerland; however there is some confusion with Frederic Henry’s feelings about his abandoning his men and escaping. The theme then goes to being confusing and ironic at the same time, in that although Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley are together, they seem to want privacy or time alone from each other. This is seen when Catherine Barkley wants to be with Frederic Henry but he would rather play chess. The author uses this calm confusing theme to foreshadow Catherine Barkley’s death, and the unusual events that are to come, with Catherine Barkley drinking beer to keep the baby small, and the anticipation of the painful labor she will have to endure, while Frederic Henry fears for the death of the good and of the gentle. In the beginning Catherine Barkley has a fear of rain, foreshadowing her own death, and ironically when she does die, Frederic Henry is left walking home alone in the rain. Rain in this story is used by the author to signify when the characters are feeling sad or there is a dark theme.

In conclusion “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway uses setting, theme, and foreshadowing to create a story based on war and love. Using a complex manner of structure the author was able to create the right setting and theme to convey his writing to his audience and tell the story of an American ambulance driver who is involved in the war and falls in love and in the end ends up losing everything that was important to him. With the authors use of foreshadowing techniques the readers can better understand the plot, character emotions, and ideas put forth by the author to better understand and comprehend his work. This story awakens our imagination and enlarges our humanity (Lynn, Kenneth S.).

Work Cited

“A Farewell to Arms.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, 2011. Web. 16 Jan. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/201827/A-Farewell-to-Arms>.

“Ernest Hemingway finishes The Old Man and the Sea.” 2011. The History Channel website. Jan 16 2011, 5:49

< http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ernest-hemingway-finishes-the-old-man-and-the-sea>.

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: First Scribner trade paperback edition, 2003

Lynn, Kenneth S. Hemingway. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.

Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

Wilson, M. “The Hemingway Resource Center.” The Hemingway Resource Center, June, 1996.. Web. 16 Jan 2011.

<www.lostgeneration.com>

Reynolds, Michael. “Hemingway in out Times.” The New York Times. July 11, 1999.

Paul, Steve. “Preparing for War and Writing.” The Kansas City Star. Sept 27, 2007

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