The novel «A Farewell to Arms» written by Ernest Hemingway released in 1929 and touched on several major problems that agitated European society in the early XX century. The main theme of the work and the mover of the plot was the First World War. On the background of the war occurs the love story between lieutenant of the field ambulance, Frederick Henry, and nurse, Catherine Barkley, and it is the second major theme of the novel. Unsightly military weekdays and sincere human feelings provide an access to the classical artistic problems — the realization by human his own place in the world and the identification of important existential constants of «war» and «peace», «life» and «death», «faith» and «disbelief».
The novel «A Farewell to Arms» is mostly autobiographical. Ernest Hemingway, as the main character of his novel, served on the Italian front, was wounded, lay in the Milan hospital and had an affair with a nurse. In 1948 in the «Introduction» to the edition author said, that he took part in many wars, and it made him a «biased to this problem» person.
None can write about the war like Hemingway.By short, allegedly lopped phrases, American writer describes the main events, activities, actions, feelings and thoughts of the characters. The war by Hemingway is simple and ruthless as his criticism of this mindless process. There is a feat, but perhaps even more folly in it. The heroes of the novel «A Farewell to Arms» mostly hate the war. They would be happy to finish it, but they can not. Man, who leave the battlefield, will be shot, or will get a family disgrace. The Italian government does cunningly: the family of disgraced soldier loses the voting rights, public respect and state protection. Anyone can come to the house of this family and do with its members all that he wants. None of the fighters wishes such a terrible fate for his relatives, so he fights, secretly hoping for the exacerbation of chronic diseases, small wound or the end of the war.
The main character — the officer and intelligent person by nature — understands those, and others. Why he, an American, is in the middle of a European war, it seems, he does not even know himself. Living in Italy, he decided that it is better to side with people, which he was accustomed to, than to return home and engage in meaningless actions in the preparatory military camp. On the front he has a real work and feels alive. Here he has friends, girls, and work. However, everything changed when Henry meets Catherine. As soon as the hero get something real to live for, he shamelessly leaves the battlefield to engage the only thing that he wants — to eat, drink, sleep with his girlfriend.
His wound, received in the ordinary dug-out just when he ate cheese, mostly affects Henry’s decision to get rid of weapons and following events.Subordinates, carrying the wounded lieutenant to the hospital, constantly dropped him, frightening of shots; in the car, by which Henry was moved away from the battlefield, the blood of the dead soldier dripped on him — and it looks absurdly and frightening at the same time. The top of slapstick are reasoning of the friend of the main character, the surgeon Rinaldi. He argued about the type of medal that would be given to the wounded — a bronze or a silver one, for showing a particular courage. The fact that the soldier will get a medal — everybody has no doubt because the current military operation completes successfully. If the Italian army lost, even those who died would not get awards.
Problems of the novel related to the theme of love, don’t have specific conflicts. None and nothing prevents Henry and Katherine enjoying each other’s company. The only thing that always puts the characters in a dead end — it is life and its natural circumstances that characters overcome still easily. The Catherine’s feelings to Henry have the sacrificial character. The girl needs from her husband only love and faithfulness — she does not interest in anything else. Catherine easily accepts the position of his lover, a pregnant with a bastard child, the wife of a deserter, etc. She is ready to do everything to make Henry happy. She is so happy with him that she does not need the other world. Henry fully supports her with it. Lovers are bored with the company of other people, finding the meaning of life just in each other (they feel each other so good that even wake up and fall asleep together).
When Catherine dies because of heavy childbirth, the novel ends. Hemingway simply and laconic describes the last scene of Henry’s farewell with Catherine, reminding a «statue» to him.Before her death, she does not change herself: she does not want any doctor to relieve bodily pain, any priest to relieve inward pain, everything she wants — is Henry.
In the novel «Farewell to Arms», the question of the transition from this world to the other is described as a natural process that does not cause fear: a wounded Henry sees himself coming out of the body, Catherine is not scared to die — she just does not want to do that. They are not religious characters, but they prove to be faithful people: Catherine gives a scapular of St. Anthony to her lover that protects him in the battle; Henry — the only one of the officers, who respects the padre. However, they really do not have time to believe, and maybe never will have enough — like 94-year-old Earl Greffi, who waited in vain for the arrival of this feeling all his life vainly.