A Love within a War
Earnest Hemingways A Farewell to Arms tells a story of two lovers and their developing relationship during a time of struggle and war. The two main characters Henry and Catherine use each other as an escape from the pain and loss of war. There are certain similarities between the way their relationship develops and the way my own current relationship with my boyfriend developed. Both relationships began during times of trial when each person needed the other for different reasons and found comfort in their partners presence. The connection between the couples began as a type of distraction from what was going on around them and over time and hardships, developed into a true and meaningful relationship.
A Farewell to Arms is a story about the relationship developed between an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian army during war time and a British nurse working for the betterment of the soldiers. They met during the war when Henry, the American, went down to the hospital with his Italian friend to talk to and try to pick up the British nurses. The nurses, Catherine and her friend, were receptive to the flirtations and politely accepted the conversations. My relationship with my boyfriend began under similar circumstances. We met during plebe summer, which is a period of time similar to 6 weeks of boot camp for all intensive purposes. We had both happened to enjoy playing the baritone in the Drum and Bulge Corps as our extracurricular activity during the summer. We met during this time and were instant friends. Catherine and Henry continued to see each other after that night and maintained a close relationship, as friends. Eric and I did the same. The war had affected Catherine and Henry in such a way as to develop a need to see one another and a need for closeness. Catherine had just experienced the loss of her fiance on the front lines of battle and Henry was suffering from the disillusionment of the war itself. They felt an inevitable sense of loneliness and so found comfort in one another. Plebe summer was demanding on the body and the mind, as was the war Catherine and Henry were watching unfold. Eric and I sought comfort in one another as we talked and carried on trying to get away from the screaming and constant battering of plebe summer. We used our friendship, as Catherine and Henry used their flirtations, as a means to escape the constant thought of the sufferings surrounding us.
Plebe summer caught me off guard. Before Indoctrination Day, I had never been away from home for more and a period of 2 weeks at the most. I was going to be gone from home for more than 3 months without being able to even talk to my parents, save a 3 fiveminute phone calls allowed periodically throughout the summer. This separation from my family and being cut off from the outside world affected me greatly and was a great source of stress in my life. Catherines loss of her fiance and the isolation caused by the front line caused her a considerable amount of stress as well. I went to Eric to talk about these problems I was facing and the emotional turmoil I was under. He was experiencing similar sensations because he, too, was very close with his family and was also affected by the feeling of loss associated with being out of communications with someone so crucial to your very existence. Catherine used Henry as a temporary replacement for the loss of her fiance. She would ask him to pronounce his undying love for her and, in doing so, he hoped to get what he wanted out of the playful banter as well. Like his Italian friend, Henry was looking for a good time and an escape from the ugly war and its usual concubines the soldiers were so accustomed to. I was looking for a feeling of closeness not allowed during plebe summer. There would be no compassion given by the cadre dictating our lives and my classmates were under too much stress to worry about anyone other than their own well-being. Eric was my best friend and as such, was there for me when I needed someone to complain to when I had been treated badly by the cadre or when I had really screwed up on one of the requirements set down by the cadre. He was my source for compassion and closeness as Henry and Catherine were to one another.
Ernest Hemingway wrote of the relationship between Henry and Catherine in the beginning of A Farewell to Arms as one that started as a game. Catherine would ask Henry if he loved her, lying to her his response would be Yes, of course I do, and that was how it would be when they met. Catherine felt it was important that she told Henry when to stop lying to her because she knew there was no way he could love her without having known her for any amount of time. There was a mutual understanding that the two were not in love until Henry came back wounded from battle. Then, when Catherine would ask him if he loved her, he would truly respond with a yes. She told him not to lye and he just repeated that yes, he really did love her. Eric and I, having been best friends since the beginning of plebe summer, paired up then and continued a close friendship into the academic year. We would joke around and I would say something ridiculous and he would just laugh at me. I always accused him of laughing because he loved me. We would play if off and make a joke out of it so that he wouldnt feel obliged to answer a question that would inevitably get him in trouble. After a while, he would say certain things and we could coordinate everything that we did together so well that I began to see how easily we worked together. He was helping me with my homework one night about halfway through the semester and we were joking as usual. I was feeling clever and said, Sometimes I think you really do love me. It was his response to this question that told me that he really did love me. He simply said Yea, I think I do. All I did was smile a large goofy smile and kept doing my homework. I didnt have to say a thing; we both knew that I loved him too. Neither of us are sure when we actually began to love the other but this we do know: our close best friendship turned into a deeper, loving relationship.
My relationship with my boyfriend Eric is very similar to the relationship between Caroline and Henry in Ernest Hemingways A Farewell to Arms. The couple met during a severe hardship and used one another to over their experiences just as Eric and I used each other to get through plebe summer. Erics and my separation from our families was traumatic for us as was Catherines loss of her fiance. Coincidentally, mine and Erics relationship began as a very close friendship and ended in love away from the memories of plebe summer. Catherine and Henrys flirtations resulted in a true relationship away from the war. Ernest Hemmingway wrote a love story masked as one of war.