Set mostly in Italy during World War I, A Farewell to Arms bemoans the horrors of war while giving a human face to those involved in it. The characters work ceaselessly to hold on to their hopes for happiness while doing right by their brothers and sisters in arms. Ernest Hemingway’s description of the war is precise and historically accurate. But his characters are intensely human and contain a variety of views and counterviews. Their colorful dialogues provoke us to join their debates, and in doing so further define our own views about war.
Frederic Henry feels like a criminal when he "deserts" the Italian army during the retreat, but his so-called desertion is an act of bravery and heroism.