- 2020-10-29 19:39:35
A Farewell to Armsis a simple story well told, the plot of which could be summarized that Henry encountered Catherine, and fell in love with her butlost her in the end. Hemingway conveys this story chronologically, with no flashback scenes whatsoever. In fact, the novel contains very little exposition at all. Wenever learn exactly where its narrator, the American ambulance driver, came from, or why he enlisted in the Italian army to begin with. For that matter, Iread chapter after chapter before even learning his name Frederic Henry and his obscure family background. Nor do wediscover much about his lover Catherine Barkley’s past, other than the fact that her fiancé was killed in battle in France. There is a grain of truth to this, but it does not affect the novel’s wholeness in the slightest, even givingit a mysterious and thoughtful grace.
Impressively, Hemingway sets the tone for the entire novel in Chapter One.This is to be a story of war, with dull and gloomy pictures from the late summer to winter. “In the fall when the rains came the leaves all fell from the chestnut trees and the branches were bare and the trunks black with rain. The vineyards were thin and bare-branched too and all the country wet and brown and dead with autumn.”Undoubtedly, the rain brings the fallen leaves, the bare branches as well as the dead in the war, and it serves as a symbol of death in this novel, becauseHenry’s leg injury in the bomb exploration, his departure from Catherine in Milan, his desertion from the Italian army and Catherine’s death all happen in the rain. Regarding the cholera outbreak, the narrator tells us that “in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army.”Only seven thousand! The calm and dispassionate tone exactly denotes how ruthless and harsh the military and the war are, sarcastically revealing Hemingway’s anti-war sentiment.
As a volunteer in Italy army, Lieutenant Henry was at first inexperience and native in the war. Like other officers, he only spent his leave drinking and consorting with prostitutes. This indulged behavior maybe denoted the long-repressed and frayed nervesof all soldiers, who were eager to gain the sense of triumph through the conquest of women. As it turned out, what congested in Henry’s mind was sexual desire in his first meeting with Catherine, while Catherine was only expected to seek a soulmate, a true love, thus she kept asking Henry “youdoloveme?”Not just at this stage, but also including later when they lived together, and even when she was dying, she had been confirming “love”with Henry over and over again. It was possible that a certain psychic trauma, caused by the past when her fiancé was killed in French battle, was perpetually tortured her and made her extremely insecure. At that time, Henry, even a Lieutenant, had not experienced the same trauma as her, until he suffered from the intense pain and witnessed the crucial death of soldiers on the later battlefield.
It was a major turning point that Henry was really exposed to the reality of the battle-field. Thematically, Hemingway elucidated his belief on the war throughout the driver Passini’s ideas discussed in the dugout. “Everybody hates this war.”The similar views also evoked “the goddamn war”said by a crippled soldier in the previous part. Those who were really ravaged and tortured by the battle all held that nothing is worse than war, that war makes men go crazy, that those who fear their superiors are responsible for war. Ironically, before hit and harmed by the shelling, Henry still argued against giving up: “It would only be worse if we stopped fighting.”However, there is nothing worse than losing friends, family and his own life. After seeing Passini’s death with tremendous torment, he seemed to have a sort of epiphany. Even with a shudder in the final scene of the chapter, he was soaked by the blood of a dying soldier. “The drops fell very slowly, as they fall from an icicle after the sun has gone.”So wrenching and gripping is it. The short, declarative words are highly emotional, containing infinite power. The drops of blood, warm and sticky, in such a hot weather, are like falling from icicle, seemingly cold and chilly. “At the post on the top they took the stretcher out and put another in and we went on.”The stretcher carried in and out, these two simple but mechanical moves perhaps happen again and again wherever there is a fighting, initiating thereby a thinking: how many lives have been destroyed by the war and how cold and heartless has the war made people? The novel also raises the curtain on the distinctive and influential Hemingway style of writing—in effect, a chain of sentences linked by conjunctions (short, connective words like “and”, “or”and “but”). Reading his words, Hemingway’s heroof a tough man is instantly disintegrated in my heart. In fact, he is extremely sensitive and gentle, with great compassion and insight. Until then, Henry utterly perceived that a war was just like a ruthless killing machine. The days he showed in the early days ??? were really evaporating, and he embarked on approaching Catherine’s understanding of life and death since they met. It was not when he escaped from Italian army, but at this moment, that he indicated a goodbye to the army in his mind.
During Henry’s hospitalization in Milan, his affair with Catherine developed into a full-blown idyll. They fell in love in hospital, followed laterby wine tasting, fishing and racing, watching plays, chatting with friends around the Italy—despite the fact that it was summertime, the season of war.Admittedly, hours of idleness always mixed with a hint of anxiety unconsciously due totheir inevitable separation. In the night beforeHenry went to the front, however, staying in a hotel with a man who was not her husband made Catherine feel like a whore. “Hervoicewasdryandflat.”Moreover, Henry muttered unwittingly “But at my back I always hear/Time’s winged chariot hurrying near,”from “To His Coy Mistress”, a lyric poem by Andrew Marvell, about a woman who was sexually unavailable. It is ironic and bitter, considering all of Henry and Catherine’s premarital sexual activity, corresponding to the sense of doom that pervades the night. Catherine held unswervingly to love, regarding it as her faith, but Henry’s return to the battlefield enforced her faith to collapse at any moment because she was afraid to be traumatized again by the war - like her fiancé’s death. Nevertheless, faithful love still could not escape the clutches of war, potentially breaking down at any time. The terrible war caused their separation, leaving them physically and mentally suffering. Due to his hopelessness for the hypocritical and heartless superior offices and the slam-bang fight, Henry had to flee from the army to guard his own life. When Henry became a deserter and was tracked down, Catherine accompanied Henry boating smuggling to Switzerland and later lived a seemingly peaceful life away from war. However, the newspapers about the war, concerns about old friends, or passers-by’s talking were inundated with their life, and none of them would keep them alive in the shadow of war. Their love story was doomed to be a tragedy.
The last chapter achieves its tragic and striking effect mainly throughthe painstaking preparation of the previouschapters.The gray and pessimistic images, like “the dark and the rain falling”, “overturned garbage”and “dead flowers”, imply gloomy, depressing and dying atmosphere. Rain, running through the whole novel, symbolizes death and war. No matter where, one in the rain is just likein the war, suffused with tear and blood, agony and loss, immorality and brutality. “I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it”, once mentioned by Catherine, but at the last moment before her death, she said, “I’mnotafraid.Ijusthateit.”Catherine’s words just echoed “Everybody hates this war.” It wasa world like the burning campfire log that Henry described, swarming with ants that he could notsave despite the impulse “to be a messiah.”However, Catherine, a pure, optimistic and brave girl, was trying to struggle against the war. During the parturition and caesarian operation, she performed very bravely, but the excruciatingpain gradually tormented her dying. To horrifying effect, Henry hasalready shared with ushis viewpoint that the very brave are destined to die.However, Catherine was still full of solicitude of her lover towards the end of her life. “This”—suffering and death— “was what people got for loving each other.” The tension is augmented to positively harrowing effectin the interior dialogue of Henryas follows,
Isatoutsidein the hail. Every thing was gone inside of me. I did not think. I could not think. I knew she was going to die and I prayed that she would not. Don’t let her die. Oh, God, please don’t let her die. I’ll do anything for you if you won’t let her die. Please, please, please, dear God please make her not die. You took the baby but don’t let her die. That was all right but don’t let her die. Please, please, dear God, don’t let her die.
This monologue made me immersed inhis great grief and sorrow, with his inner prayer over and over again, short butrepeated, tragically servingfor Henry as a kind of unconscious rehearsal for his life after Catherine’s death. “It was like saying good-bye to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”The last sentence of the novel is distinctively endowed with Hemingway’s narrative style. There is no longer description of Henry’s consciousness, but the simple and implicitwords bring his overwhelming mourning to life with a profound meaning. The more moderateand restrainedthe tone maintains,the more surgingand appealing the emotion becomes, and the heavierand realerthe grief grows.Undoubtedly, there came a suddenthrob inmyheart, bringingmea sense of empathy for Henry’s loss of his beloved in perpetuity. it is hitting my heart, absolutely making me feel a sense of compassion and empathy for losing his beloved in perpetuity.
Admittedly, there arenot too much fighting scenes described in the novel, but instead the shadow of war is impending（即将发生的，迫在眉睫，垂悬着） all the time. Catherine’s deathis inevitable, and it is the war that killsher even though she does not die on the battlefield. Henry is also died, with a dead heart colder than the death of body. Eventually, he said farewell to the war and said farewell to his lover in the darkness and loneliness of the rain. In addition to the hero and heroine, the Priest, Italian surgeon Rinaldi, Scottish nurse Helen, and other thevivid images are all the victims of imperialist wars. Under the guise of sanctity, justice and sacrifice, people are deceived into giving up their lives to fightfor the government, and theyare no longer their own mastersbut controlled by the ruling class.
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