A Farewell to Arms Reflective

Subject: 👸🏽 Famous Person
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1239
Topics: Ernest Hemingway, War, World War 1, 📗 Book
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Throughout the Italian campaign of World War I, Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley, two characters in A Farewell to Arms, had a tumultuous relationship. The novel starts with a description of life before the war, which makes up most of the remainder of the narrative. Hemingway highlighted the brutality of the war and its impact on daily life. The change from autumn to winter was characterized by cloudy, wet days. Lieutenant Henry, the protagonist and ambulance driver is permitted a winter holiday from the battlefield as the war concludes. Conventionally, readers would expect that the spell that engulfs Henry together with Catherine in the bubble of love would blossom into happy days ever after. However, it happens that Hemingway used the sensational love affair between Henry and Catherine to address the relationship between sex and religion amid love and war.

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Love and War

“Often a man wishes to be alone, and a girl wishes to be alone too, and if they love each other, they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, against the others … But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together” (Hemingway, 1929, p. 249). This expression demonstrates that Catherine and Henry are never lonely while together, despite feeling lonely when they are apart. Spending time together is the only way for them to feel less lonely and anxious. In this statement, the author employs repetition by repeating the word “alone” twice to emphasize that Catherine and Henry are not lonely when they are together and that their love triumphs over their loneliness (Kaifu, 2019). Due to their profound devotion to one another, they can transcend the feeling of being alone while they are together.

Through the narrative, Lieutenant Henry and Catherine, who first met at the nearby British Hospital, develop a stronger bond (Munshid & Ahu, 2021). However, contrary to expectations that always love wreaths in days, socked in sunlight, this novel emphasizes that love involves loss. The war was used by the author present circumstances that were meant to make happiness a treasure to desire, and in many circumstances, making it hard for lovers to nourish their feelings. Henry and Catherine were expected to cross the valley with huddles of war and see love on the other side. For these reasons, Hemingway (1929) depicts several instances throughout the book in which love results in a sad loss. For instance, the story begins with a description of Catherine’s fiancé’s death in battle. This is a perfect example of the terrible way Catherine’s first love ended when her loyal husband passed away.

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Additionally, this portends the terrible end of Henry and Catherine’s romance. As a consequence of the story, Catherine and her husband are shocked when their child is stillborn. To make matters worse, Catherine passed away from fatal hemorrhages. The idea that loss and love are inseparably connected exposes the limitations and weaknesses of love.

One of the book’s central ideas is that love may prevail over adversity, a notion that appears in both the war and love themes. The war significantly altered Catherine and Henry’s relationship, yet their love for one another has not diminished. Due to their love for one another, they can overcome the war’s various obstacles. Hemingway (1929) suggests that obstacles build rather than undermine relationships. Love and the awful toll of war on human life are central themes. Everyone’s life was affected by the war, whether they were medical professionals or active combatants. Due to the devastating toll that war had had on society, everyday living had become practically impossible. The impacts of the conflict forever damaged Henry’s physiology and psychology. Regardless of their position, the conflict impacts the novel’s characters. These concepts apply to both everyday life and literary works.

Sex and Religion

The protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry, finds the stability, warmth, and genuine feelings of love that he could not achieve through traditional religious dedication and practice in his relationship with Catherine Barkley, which they perceive as marriage (Diadechko, 2022). Because of his guilt about partaking in the prohibited pleasures of the brothel, Frederic has midnight terror of God, but he does not adore Him (Hemingway, 1929). He maintains a religious sensibility even though Frederic and Catherine’s primary religion is their love for one another. Between his Catholicism and his emotional ties to Catherine, Frederic struggles. Catherine’s sad death at the novel’s conclusion is a direct result of their sexual encounters before marriage, even though their love replaces religion with the ritual practice of sex. Frederic still engages in sexual activity before marriage despite the sexual shame and anxiety brought on by religious perceptions (Alarcón Sánchez, 2020). After a tragic defeat, the main character learns too late that his religion, his only love, was doomed and that the premarital sex routine that made up its ritual could only provide temporary joy.

The anti-gay efforts of Italian Catholicism are detailed in A Farewell to Arms. When Aymo mentions sex in front of the two virgin Catholic peasant girls, they get upset. Because she misinterpreted his comments, one of them begins to scream in panic. Unlike the Catholic ladies, Frederic suffers both emotionally and spiritually as a result of his sexual offenses. The priest asserts that Frederic’s passion and desire for sin are the causes of his dreams about God. The cultural dominance of Catholic beliefs has led to a stigma around sexuality since the effects of sexuality (guilt) affect individuals regardless of whether they agree with or follow the church’s teachings.

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Despite being raised in it, Frederic views God and the Catholic Church with contempt. He claims to be constantly embarrassed by the words “sacred, glorious, sacrifice and the expression in vain” (Hemingway, 1929, p. 184). These concepts are difficult to grasp because they are abstract: Never before has Henry seen something sacred. Henry thinks Catholicism is pointless since it does not help him financially. Because of the openness and sincerity of their love, sexual encounters with Catherine may take on the significance of a religious ritual. They adore one other since they can only meet their psychological and physiological needs. From these examples, Hemingway (1929) suggests that Henry has an uncommon ability to hold to Catholic teachings blindly, despite his devout commitment to Catherine. On the other hand, Catherine is an outspoken opponent of Frederic’s genuine Christian faith. Frederic insists that his marriage to Catherine is more than just a formality, but she knows otherwise.


Henry encounters love and war throughout the book without really understanding either. He gradually takes in more information and develops a greater understanding of both aspects of reality. The young man is forced to leave the service after realizing the brutality of war, and it could be expected that he would find relief in love. Even though he still has sad moments, Henry is happy to be out of harm’s way and in love’s arms. Against the expectation of many, his love passes away while carrying their kid. Therefore he loses love and the lady with whom he had imagined a beautiful life. “Two Farewells” alludes to Henry’s growing unhappiness with life, which is reflected in the two big farewells he makes during the story. However, amid the sad encounter, the author develops Henry’s understanding of sex and religion. It is a proclamation that man must face and embrace life’s emptiness as a necessary component of his daily existence.

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  1. Alarcón Sánchez, L. (2020). Deconstructing Ernest Hemingway’s Identity: Gender and Sexual Politics in Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms [Unpublished master`s thesis]. Universidad de Almeria.
  2. Diadechko, A. M. (2022). Love Versus War in the Novel by Ernest Hemingway “A Farewell to Arms.” Publishing House “Baltija Publishing.”
  3. Hemingway, E. (1929). A Farewell to Arms. London: Vintage.
  4. Kaifu, C. (2019). A Study of Narrative Strategies in” A Farewell to Arms.” English Language Teaching, 12(9), 122–125.
  5. Munshid, H. M., & Ahu, A. G. (2021). The Portrayal of The Image of Love in Hemingway’s Selected Novels. Malaysian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (MJSSH), 6(5), 213–223.
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