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The Cruelty of War in A Farewell To Arms Essay


They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason Ernest Hemingway. The novel A Farewell to Arms was written by Ernest Hemingway who was born in 1899 in Oakpark, Illinois. He entered World War I as a driver in the Norton Harjes Ambulance Corps. After he was injured on the Italian front, Hemingway was sent to a hospital in Milan where he meets an American Red Cross girl named Agnes von Kurowsky. A Farewell to Arms is almost an exact reflection of his life. The story begins in Italy during World War I. Frederic Henry, the novel's main character, is a young American ambulance driver serving in the Italian Army. Henry meets Catherine Barkley who is an English nurses aide at a nearby British hospital and they immediatley fall in love with each other. After Henry is severly injured on the battlefield, he is sent to a hospital in Milan to recover. In the novel A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway sends the message or theme about the grim reality and cruelties of war to the readers.

War is not glamorized in this novel. Instead, it is presented in a very real and horrifying manner through the perspective of Henry. Only a few characters in the novel such as Gino and Ettore Moretti, support going into war. Hemingway portrays Gino and the few other characters who are supporters of war as nave people who do not understand the real truths of war. The characters who are against the war constantly point out the terrible effects of war. Not all people are aware of what war truly is.

One of the cruelties of war Hemingway addresses in his novel is that it can kill us in more ways than one. It can wound us in battle; however, sometimes, it can scar us in deeper ways. It can cause betrayal. For example, the Italians turned against Henry because he was an American serving in the Italian army. It can even cause trouble for people from afar. This was shown in the case of Catherine as she was being haunted by the death of a man she loved in the war, several years after he was gone. She recalls her loved ones terrible death in war. He didnt have a sabre cut. They blew him all to bits (20). War can touch us in many more ways than one.

Hemingway repeatedly emphasizes the horrific devastation war has wrought on everyone involved. For example, Hemingway writes, At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera. But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army (4). The use of the word only paints a picture of genuine horror. He makes it sound as if seven thousand is not a lot, but it is. Hemingway, however, does not merely condemn war. Instead, he blames the world at large for its atmosphere of destruction through war.

Throughout the novel A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway gives the readers the message about the horrible reality of war and the cruelty behind it. Throughout the story, Hemingway informs his readers how war can hurt people in more then one way and continuously emphasizes the terrible effects of war. Hemingway suggests that war is nothing more than the murderous extension of a world that can not preserve peace. Is war really the inevitable outcome of a cruel, senseless world?

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