A Farwell to arms by Ernest Hemingway

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The plot

The story is about a young american named Frederic Henry. He is a ambulance driver that works in the italian army during the first world war. He is also a lietuant in the italian army. In the beginning of the story he meets a english nurse named Catherine Barkley. Her fiance has recently died in the battle of Somme but that doesnt bother Henry much. Instead he tries to seduce Catherine. However Catherine dont really start to love Frederic until later in the story when Fredeic gets wounded in a battle. By that time he gets send to a hospital in milan where Catherine works as a nurse.

By now they start to begin a more close relationship and in time Frederic makes Catherine pregnant. However Frederic later have to get back to the war. When fredric come to the front he gets informed that the battles with the austrians is going very bad so the italian army has to retreat. However the retreat result in a chaos for frederic. During this chaos some people gets killed in his troop and frederic himself has to shot a sergeant because he dont follow orders. During this retreat Frederic also gets caught by the Italian secret police who wants to execute him for leaving his troops.

However fredric escapes by jumping in a river and he fles to Milan were he gets a bartender to help him and Catherine to escaoes to schwitzerland. In Schwitzerland they plan to get married after the baby is born. But Catherine and the child dies during the childbirth and thats were the story ends in a very tragic way.

Narrator, story

The story is told from Frederics perspective and he tells the story in an chronological order. You get to know how he thinks and feels through thoughts. For example in the beginning of his relationship with Catherine he just think of her as a game. Its not a very serious relationship however. You can read this in the book because the story is told from his thoughts. But later in the story he says that Catherine is one of the few things that makes him want to live ( or something like that ). So you get a pretty good picture of how Frederic Henry changes during the story.

The characters

The relationship with Catherine is already welldescribed. However there are some other important persons in the story. For example Rinaldi who is an lietuant in the story is one of Fredetics closest friends in the story. Rinaldi is very emotional and like to tease Frederic in a sort of friendly way. Another pretty intresting relation is between Frederic and a priest. The priest stays with frederics troop and frederic seems to be the only one that respects him while the other most make fun of him. Another important character is the nurse miss Ferguson who is a close friend to miss Barkley. At first she seem to like Fredeyic as a person but later on when Barkley gets pregnant with fredetic she seem to think that frederic is some kind of player that jiust is together with Cathrine for fun.

The story takes place in italy during the first world war. The Italians are having a war near the mountains


The storys theme is sort of ” Love conquers all ”. However I also think that the story wants the reader to see that you never can expect what can happen in love. During most of the story you sort of expect that the relationship bewtween Catherine and Frederic will end happily since they work very good together as a couple plus that Catherine even gets pregnant with him. The relationship becomes more and more special for Frederic ( the relationship was at the beginning most a game ) and you derby except that the ending will be very happy. However catherine and the baby dies when the doctors are helping Catherine to give birth to the baby. I sort of think that Hemingway wants the reader to see that love is something very great but that it also can be very tragic and depressing at times.


The language in the book is pretty complicated but also in a way very simple. For example, if hemingway would desribe a chair he would describe it as a chair instead of using any metaphors or other words då desribe the chair in a allergoric way. However there are many descriptions of the evironment that are described in a very complicated way with many details. That is good for the story because thanks to that you understand Frederics situation better. A example is when frederico comes back to the war after he has recovered from his wound. In this part of the story Hemingway desriebes how the place has changed since Fredrico left. Hemingway gives a good desription how the war has changed the town.

Your own point of view

I think the story is pretty boring. During most of the story it doesnt really happen anything intresting or exciting. The relationship between catherine and frederico isnt very intressting either. Theyre relationship just makes me think of those really overdramatic and sentimental lovemovies from the forties that makes me want to puke. However the end is pretty good because it feels realistic and very surprising even if its not a happy ending. Thats what good with the book. The desription of the war in italy feels very rrealistic and thats probably because Hemingway himself was working in the red cross in Italy during the first world war.
Hemingway is also good at describing his environments. But that doesnt really make the story more intressting in my oppinion.

Intressting facts about the book

Many of Hemingways books were inspired by events from his real life. This is very obvious in a farwell to arms because the head character of the story is a ambulance driver in Italy during the first world war just like ernest. He also wrote very naturalistic and realistic. Probably because he wanted people to identify with what he felt during the events in his life. For example the...

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Inactive member [2003-02-24]   A Farwell to arms by Ernest Hemingway
Mimers Brunn [Online]. https://mimersbrunn.se/article?id=1744 [2020-06-01]

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