A Farewell to Arms
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.
Questions About Warfare
- Is war romanticized in the novel? If so, what is romantic about it? If not, why do you consider it unromantic?
- What are different ways that violence is represented in the novel? What is directly told to us and what can we infer?
- What does the word "enemy" mean, in the context of this novel?
- Was Frederic "spoiled" during the war, living the good life in the Milan hospital while there is a war on, as some critics have suggested? Or did he deserve his convalescence? Is Frederic "anti-war"? If so, why does he participate in it?
Chew on This
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.