A Farewell to Arms: Ernest Hemingway in Frederic Henry Experts often agree that to write an extraordinary piece of literature, the author must write of his, or her, first-hand knowledge or experience, of a subject matter; and Ernest Hemingway knew this. He was best known for his plain spoken, straightforward, no-frills writing style. Plain words, simple sentences, and frequent repetition earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. He was a literary scholar.
Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms is a magnificent result of literary magnificence that combines its author’s real life experiences and writing perfection. The five-book fiction novel contains autobiographical elements in its core. As one of the best American writers of the early 20th century, Hemingway rolls his personal experiences together with fiction and serves us an exquisite work of art that keeps readers craving for more. A Farewell to Arms was one of Ernest Hemingway’s greatest novels, because it was based on his own experiences.
Likewise, the main theme in A Farewell to Arms is the futility of war, its protagonist is Lieutenant Frederick Henry, whose private thoughts and actions mirror Hemingway’s life events around the time he met his first wife, Agnes von Kurowsky. Both Henry and Hemingway shared some common events during their lives. “…A Farewell to Arms, deals even more directly…with the impact of World War I. The book is actually set during the war and focuses on the experiences, in conflict and love, of a young American ambulance driver…” (Evans). Hemingway and Henry, both, were volunteers in the Red Cross and drove an ambulance during World War I.
They were also wounded in the Italian front during an Austrian attack, by a mortar exploding a few feet away from them. They caught shrapnel. Henry was transported to a hospital in Milan to recuperate from injuries, which consisted of over 200 metal fragments inside his right leg. He had to undergo surgery, twice (Bloom). Undoubtedly, this is a parallel to Hemingway’s war injury. Subsequently, during his time in the Hospital, Henry met the love of his life, Catherine Barkley, who was seven years older than him; in similar fashion, Hemingway also met and fell in love with his future wife, Agnes, in Milan.
Both, Catherine and Agnes, were American nurses who were seven years their senior; and cared after their leg wounds. “Similarly wounded Lieutenant Frederic Henry of A Farewell to Arms find love in the mist of war-torn Italy with Catherine Barkley, and English nurse who tends to his wounds” (Werlock). Hemingway further explains the passion, emotions, and desires Henry found in the middle of dullness of life. Things ubsurd to find in a demoralizing, chaotic, and ongoing war. The Great War. Moreover, through Henry, Hemingway tells us the grim reality of war he experienced.
As the autobiographical nature of the work suggests, Hemingway’s apparent attitude toward the story is identical to that of the narrator. He masterfully describes war’s brutality, violence, and chaos. The scene when the Italian army retreat remains the most profound description of war in American literature. Hemingway emphasizes the nature of war to readers by describing Henry shooting an Italian army engineer for not helping push their escape car out of mud. However, he also makes the reader aware that many Italian citizens attempt help him escape the ongoing war.
Hemingway, specifically, uses the barman who Henry meets after returning to Milan. He says to Henry, “If you are in trouble stay here with me” (Hemingway, 238). The barman also offered Henry a temporary place to stay, fake leave documents, and advises him to change into civilian clothes in order to avoid been recognized. Also, having suffered depression throughout his life, Hemingway personally viewed rain negatively. He transferred the actual feeling of depression in this novel. Depression causes a victim to view the world as being in a continuous rainy day. In this novel, Hemingway uses rain to establish a negative, depressed tone, to warn of future unfortunate circumstances, and to accompany scenes which death occurs in, to add to the horrid situation” (A Farewell…). Depression ultimately killed Hemingway. Similarly, Ernest Hemingway’s private issue of alcoholism is cited Frederic Henry’s character. Hemingway was well known as a heavy drinker by his close friends, who were not surprised by his high whiskey consumption of about a quart per. Likewise, Henry is consistently drinking throughout the novel.
He is often sharing a drink with a friend, or having a quick glass of cognac. Hemingway had depression throughout his life and would often combat it by drinking. Again, Hemingway was an insecure man who was concerned with his manliness and dealt with it in A Farewell to Arms by celebrating the ideal kind of man: dominant, extremely competent, and confidently virile. Hemingway exalts Henry’s masculinity. This is why Henry is found talking about the importance of his beard in chapter thirty-nine. Hemingway proves what a great importance beard is to him (Hemingway, 302).
Rinaldi is viewed as a faithful friend and a tremendous womanizer. Dr. Valentini seems to rival Rinaldi’s virility, and is portrayed as the best surgeon. Additionally, Hemingway wrote about his concern regarding the birth of his first child. His second wife, Hadley Richardson, gave birth through the caesarean section method to their child. Hemingway exposed his greatest fear through Henry, when Catherine Barkley died to due child birth complications while trying to delivery in the same fashion as Hadley Richardson. In the final analysis, Hemingway used autobiographical and unadorned prose in A Farewell to Arms to hand us. Never again in a novel would Hemingway maintain the precisely appropriate distance between himself and a hero so like him” (Waldhorn, 116). Stages of his private life, experiences, thoughts and concerns are the main ingredients in this great fiction novel. “…It contains autobiographical elements, and received high praise for its accuracy and realism…” (Bloom). Ernest Hemingway remains on of one of America’s master authors whose life culminated with a grand finale; and experts agree, a great story must have a great ending.
Hemingway commited suicide; on July 2nd, 1961, to end the great story of his life. Farewell Mr. Hemingway. Works Cited 123HelpMe Editors. “A Farewell to Arms Setting Theme. ” 123HelpMe. com. 21 Nov 2010 http://www. 123HelpMe. com/view. asp? id=98045. Bloom, Harold, ed. “The Story Behind the Story. ” A Farewell to Arms, Bloom’s Guide. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2009. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts on File, Inc. http://0- www. fofweb. com. sslopac. bergen. edu/activelink2. asp?
ItemID=WE54;SID=;Pin=BGAFA003;SingleRecord=True(accessed November 4,2010). Evans, Robert C. “In His Time (and Later): Ernest Hemingway’s Critical Reputation. ” Critical Insights: Ernest Hemingway. Ed. Eugene Goodheart. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2010. Salem Literature Web. 30 Sept. 2010. Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner, 1929. Print. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on A Farewell to Arms. ” SparkNotes. com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader’s Guide