A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, is somewhat of a Romeo and Juliet love story, with a tragic ending. In this novel, Romeo is Frederick Henry and Juliet is Catherine Barkley. Their love affair must survive the everything that is around them during World War I. The setting of this novel is war-torn Italy. The love between Catherine and Frederick must outlast long separations, life-threatening war situations, and the uncertainty of each other's whereabouts or condition. This is a love story of two people who need each other in a period of chaos.
The book A Farewell to Arms is partly autobiographical. Hemingway , like his hero, was a Red Cross ambulance driver on the Italian Front in World War I. Not only was Hemingway wounded in the war, but he also recuperated in a hospital in Italy. During his recuperation, Hemingway had a very romantic liaison with a nurse. The relationships between the characters in the novel, including doctors, soldiers, etc., reflect the actual relationships Hemingway had during his stay in Italy, and the plot of the story is historically as well as geographically accurate. Before Ernest Hemingway wrote the book A Farewell to Arms, he was already regarded as a good literary writer, but after the publication of this book he was considered a great one. A Farewell to Arms was Hemingway's first commercial success, selling over 80,000 copies in the first four months.
In this story there are only two main characters, Frederick Henry and Catherine
Barkley. Frederick Henry acts as both the narrator and central character in the novel. The reader is not told so much about Catherine, only what is understood from Frederick's point of view. Catherine acts as a static character in the novel. She has already known love and lost it so she understands that she cannot build her whole life around Frederick. Frederick, on the other hand, is a very dynamic character, and he has to come to grips with many of the principles of life and death that Catherine has already learned. There are few other characters in the book of any significance, but of some small importance are Rinaldi, who is Frederick's best friend on the fighting front, and also the priest in Frederick's company whom he befriends and with whom he has long talks about life.
The plot structure of A Farewell to Arms starts out with an introduction to the major characters and with the setting of the war. Hemingway also introduces the various problems each main character struggles with throughout the novel. Catherine Barkley and Frederick Henry are introduced to each other casually and the reader begins to wonder what will come of the relationship between the two characters. This seems to be the narrative hook in the novel. Following this the reader is told about various scenes of war, and further introduced to Frederick Henry's character. Frederick is then wounded in war and shipped back to the hospital. In the hospital Frederick and Catherine are reunited and the reader sees the development of love between the two characters. After Frederick's stay in the hospital he is sent back to battle and has to leave Catherine. However, after only a short time back at the front Frederick Henry, seeing the lack of discipline and confusion in the army's retreat at Caporetto, deserts and returns to the stability of his relationship with Catherine. The battle at Caporetto is the climax in the war action part of the novel, but there is still rising action in the love story. Frederick Henry makes a successful escape to Switzerland with Catherine, and all seems to go well for them for a time. A child had been conceived during their affair but during the birth Catherine begins hemorrhaging. She delivers the baby stillborn and soon after dies. This scene is the climax of the novel. After Catherine dies the book ends very abruptly, leaving very little falling action.
In the novel there are two very prominent types of conflict. One is man verses man, which is seen constantly in the battles of the war, and the constant fighting that takes place as a background in the story. The other type of conflict that we see is man verses himself, which is shown in Frederick's constant struggle within himself. Since we are told of Frederick's thoughts we know