Book Review

A farewell to Arms is a Hemingway wonder novel which spiral around the turbulent life events of an American lieutenant who served as an ambulance driver in Italian army during WW1 and his beautiful lover Catherine Barkley, an English nurse who Frederic Hendry met through his friend Rinaldi. The book has five parts and the first part describes the horrific atmosphere a war can bring about in any country. Many of the soldiers seemed overwhelmed by the unending war which kind of sucked their soul away. Their mess debates always ended by teasing the priest who kept a close relation with Mr .Frederic, many of them were simply showed no interest in God. Even our lead character is one among them but never teased the priest. The story took a beautiful turn when he finally met his sweetheart Catherine. At first he was not so in love with her but when he got severely injured by a mortar and sent to Milan for better treatment he couldn’t stop himself but fall in love with Catherine. He spends some wonderful time with her in Milan till his knee got fixed and plans for a vacation with Catherine. But unfortunately he winds up in his bed suffering from jaundice. He again got send back to the front line only to retreat from the advancing Austro-Hungarian army. He gets away from his regiment in order to make a faster retreat from the advancing enemy but finally ends up in the hands of “War police” who interrogated and executed most of the higher rank officers blaming them for the failure of the Italian campaign. He adventurously jumps into the river and escapes from the execution in order to find Catherine in Milan. But by the time he got there she was already moved to Stresa. He finally meets her there and spends some time with her. They escapes to Switzerland when they knew they are gonna get arrested. After rowing an entire night they finds their freedom in Switzerland. Catherine leads a beautiful winter with Frederic in Montreux. They move to Lausanne for her delivery. But she and the baby die during the delivery which leaves Frederic alone with his hostile memories.

The novel pretty much contains everything Romance, Tragedy, Helplessness of human, haunting vacuum war creates. Hemingway discuss all corner of human feelings in this book. At first Frederic seemed a non-believer but he begged for Catherine’s life at the end when she fought against death on the hospital bed. Hemingway left some haunting questions when Frederic walked back to his room alone in rain after he lost both his wife and son. Frederic threw himself to the strong current of the river and rowed a boat an entire night. This shows how hope gives courage and energy to human being when he is most vulnerable. On his way back (retreat) deserted homes and destroyed crops shows how war can be so ruthless and unforgiving on many levels. When we see them escape through the lake to Switzerland and find a beautiful home near a hillside Hemingway actually gave us rays of hope. But on the hospital bed we saw the pain Catherine went through and helplessness of Frederic. After everything the writer ends the story with Frederic walking back to his room in rain alone which leaves us with many haunting questions about life and how it take turns suddenly sometimes to cause either hope or utter dismal.


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