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Themes

The characters in A Farewell to Arms push bravery to the limits as they try to do the right thing in a world breaking apart before their eyes under the pressures of war. They are even brave enough to embrace what happiness they encounter. Each such embrace causes them to doubt their own bravery – happiness seems almost obscene when pain and suffering are all around you. The nature of courage and the nature of cowardice are interrogated in Ernest Hemingway’s sensitive and provocative tragedy.

Questions About Courage

  1. Do you see characters acting courageously in the novel? If so, what makes you think so?
  2. Is bravery presented as a vice or a virtue? Or a little of both?
  3. Does anyone in the novel profit from a cowardly act? How does the novel define cowardice?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Frederic becomes a coward when he shoots the sergeant during the retreat.

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