Elia Abou Rached
Literature II Essay
Professor Curtis Brown
Chapter one of A Farewell to Arms opens with a descriptive overview of the setting the narrator is in, but the author doesn’t give away any information neither about the location of the battle nor about the identity of the narrator. Although the author is writing about war, he doesn’t focus on the gore or glory aspect of it. The description is detached and almost journalistic, with a mournful and repetitive tone. The language used here is emptied of passion, and this might be caused by the harshness and cruelty the narrator had been exposed to. The dominant tone of this opening chapter is irony, and it reaches its peak at the end of the chapter when nature and war combine forces and conspire against man.
The chapter moves through different seasons of the year and portrays the constructive and destructive aspects of nature. One of ...view middle of the document...
The first chapter has very little obvious metaphors with the most prominent being the comparison of the soldiers and their equipment to pregnant women “gone with child”. Even this obvious simple-worded metaphor has hidden meaning and the word gone acts as a portent of the deaths of these soldiers. The rest of the chapter may seem to contain simple descriptions, but these descriptions are there to show the despair beneath the surface. At the beginning, the setting may seem natural and ordinary, but each scene of nature has war integrated into it. Hemingway uses a technique that makes simple description metaphorical. The trees for example, usually affiliated with life and beauty, are covered with the dust raised by the marching soldiers. The mountains, which otherwise would have been considered majestic are tainted with the glow of artillery flashes that look like “summer lightning”.
Hemingway uses repetition in the form of repeating certain words a multitude of times. Some of the words used the most are dust, bare, and rain. This repetition serves to put the reader in the narrator’s mindset and helps the reader understand gloomy nature of the setting. When reading words such as bare repetitively, one cannot but get the harsh feel of a place haunted by war. Repetition, here, also conveys a sense of experience as it was experienced; the reader can tell the narrator had lived in the place he is describing. Most of the words repeated have negative connotations, they serve to show the reader that the narrator’s experiences with war were not pleasant experiences.
It is evident that the author’s view is neither heroic nor patriotic, but extremely pessimistic. He regards war as being meaningless and catastrophic, and this is portrayed by phrases such as “not successful” and “things went very badly”. The entire first chapter is coated with negativity towards war which shows in the narrator’s description of nature and the soldiers. The reader can tell that the narrator has indeed witnessed war and was caught up in it and that he was not reporting it from afar.