A farewell to Arms
The novel A Farewell to Arms possesses a circular plot. This is because in the beginning Henry is alone and he is still alone in the end. Another reason is because the first chapter reports the death of soldiers whereas at the end the novel deals with Catherine’s death. A sense of somberness runs through the whole novel (Merklein 2003). The main theme that stands out in this novel is that of a flattering perception of love and a negative perception of war. The novel is neither a love story nor is it entirely an anti-war piece. This paper explores Hemingway’s use of symbolism in the novel and some of the criticisms that concerning his use of this literary tool.
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At this point the main symbolism of the mountains is taken up by Catherine. Just like the mountains, she symbolizes home, comfort, security and happiness.
Further on, another recurrent symbol in this novel is the rain which is mentioned in the first chapter. Here, seven thousand people are killed by cholera as a result of the rains. It symbolizes distress, death, despair, pain, grief and misfortune (Dahiya 1992). When the rain comes, it not only leaves tree branches bare but also blackens their trunks. Half of the novel is not only dry but also sterile whereas the other half is not only wet but also sickly. Indeed, in the novel, all sad and grievous events like the retreat, Catherine’s labor pains followed by her death and the lovers’ separation soon after Henry recovered go together with the rain (Merklein 2003). In the novel, the rain provokes a sense of fear deep within Catherine and she sees it as being the ultimate cause of her death. In the end this is what actually happens. Further on, rain also symbolizes the unavoidable disintegration of the good things that life brings (Waldhorn 2002). This becomes evident when Catherine confesses to Henry that the rain always has a way of messing up any plans that lovers make. After Catherine dies, Henry walks in the rain on his way home from the hospital. As the rain falls on him, it authenticates Catherine’s apprehension thus substantiating one of this novel’s key arguments: similar to everything else in this world, great love cannot last.
Another symbol that does not recur in this novel is Catherine’s hair (Lewis 1992). During the start of their relationship, Catherine would loosen down her hair and allow it to pour her lover’s head. This reminded Henry of standing behind a curtain of water inside a waterfall or being surrounded by a tent (Rama Rao 2007). To this end, this description symbolizes the isolation of the couple from the rest of the...