Farewell To Arms A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway, was a typical love story: a Romeo and Juliet placed against the odds. In this novel, Romeo was Frederick Henry and Juliet was Catherine Barkley. Their love had to survive the obstacles of World War I. The background of war-torn Italy added to the tragedy of the love story. The war affected the emotions and values of each character.
The love between Catherine and Frederick had to withstand long separations, life-threatening situations, and the uncertainty of each others condition. This novel was a beautiful love story of two people who needed each other in a period of complete upheaval. Frederick Henry was an American who served as a lieutenant in the Italian army to a group of ambulance drivers. At the start of the novel, Frederick was a drunk who traveled from one house of prostitution to the next and yet he was discontent with his unsettled lifestyle. Further in the novel Frederick became involved with Catherine Barkley, an English volunteer nurse who served in Italy. She was very experienced with love and loss.
She lost a fiancé in the war. Frederick slowly fell in love with her and in his love for her, he found commitment. A Farewell to Arms was set in World War I where Italy was battling with Austria. In 1916, Henry was granted a leave, but returned shortly after squandering his money. He learned the British nurses were stationed in the area hospital and that was how he met Catherine. They were instantly attracted to each other.
They fell in love and for once Frederick didnt feel lonely and insecure. It was time for him to go to the front line and Catherine gave him a St. Anthony medal for protection. Henry got wounded and transferred to a hospital Catherine worked at and she volunteered her nights to spend with him. Frederick returns to war and things were terrible in Italy. He decided to escape to see the birth of his child.
Catherine was sick and this was when you see who Henry really has become. “I sat outside the hall. Everything was gone inside of me. I did not think. I could not think.
I knew she was going to die and prayed that she would not. Dont let her die. Oh, God, please dont let her die. Ill do anything for you if you wont let her die. Please, please, please, dear God, dont let her die. God please make her not die.
Ill do anything you say if you dont let her die.” (330) This quote was one of the most saddening in the novel. Frederick Henry finally found someone to love, admire, and settle down with, and something terrible happened. It revealed how he has changed as a person. He changed from and over-sensuous womanizer to a person who had settled down and sought everything he hoped in life, but lost. Frederick Henry showed his loyalty to the individuals and small groups in his life, and near the end of the novel he showed grace under pressure. Henry strove to cross the Switzerland border and seek refuge from the Italian police to help Catherine.
Throughout the novel he never once spoke about his feelings or thoughts about war. He didnt talk about the hatred for Carabinieri or his feelings when he was cheerful or dismal. When he entered Catherines hospital room, for the first time, he prayed to God and showed some emotion. He cried. In the end of the novel, Frederick is faced with a life-changing occurrence.
He lost something of great value to him. It took the loss of something so important for the real person Frederick Henry was to surface. After this occurred, he was offered some company for his way home, but he declined and walked alone. He asked God to save his greatest love after taking his child and did not really receive and answer. He concluded death is the end and when it comes, there is no where to go.
Frederick Henry never truly became a code hero until the end when he accepted death as the end of existence.