A Farewell To Arms

A Farewell to Arms by Hernest Hemingway made me cry like a baby. That's right! I picked up this book out at Cliff's cabin on Nancy Lake, because I'd finished "Round Ireland with a Fridge." I had to have something. Now, I'm hooked on Hemingway. Read on and I'll tell you about it.

The story itself is a romantic tragedy set in World War I in Italy. The male protaganist, Frederic Henry, is an American enlisted in the Italian army. He's an officer in the ambulence because of his gentler nature. He's introduced to and falls in love with an English nurse, Katherine Barkley.

Miss Barkley has lost her childhood friend and romance to the war's violence and is a little crazy from it. She's maddened by her remorse for not having made love to and married the dead boy. She's out of her element and distraght.

The relationship has a disfunctional but pure feeling to it despite it's desperate beginnings. He goes off to the front only to get heroically wounded by a mortar. From the field hospital, he arranges to get Catherine assigned to his destination hospital for some of that special nursing.

This is the good stuff. I really respect this character. He drinks with every meal. He reads all the time. But best are the torrid (for those days) allusions to love scenes. Wounded man in hospital, lovely nurse, suspicious supervisor, bottles of brandy. You get the jist. He's a fine fellow indeed.

Hemingway makes a point to poke fun at the three bumbling commitee style doctors. Finally, our hero get's all fixed up by a skilled surgeon. And, as wars go, he's sent back to the front. There's some nice allusions to love scenes in the splendor of a hotel before he departs. Did I mention she's pregnant from all these allusions?

His forces are defeated. The army is on the retreat. He's currying across the countryside trying not to be captured. The Italian battle police (his own forces) ultimately arrest our protaganist and some of his company (including the character that introduced him to Catherine in the beginning). They are prosectuted with deserting. After most of the officers around him are judged guilty and shot on sight, Tenente makes a bolt for the river to escape.

He escapes, gets Catherine and they row a boat for 2 days to get to Switzerland. Harrowing boat row I must say. They are happily accepted in Switzerland because they have passports, money and a policeman that met them was willing to recommend a fine place where they could partake in winter sports; his mother's hotel.

Well there is much peace and many happy winter walks. Our lovers are waiting to marry until Catherine loses the added weight of child. The calm is broken by a short labor room scene. She dies in child birth. It is very sad. I cried a lot.

It was dismal. Thank god he actually meant to write a tragedy huh? Hemingway has a real way of making you consider the forces surrounding the situation he's describing. His characters are richly aligned to bring elements of larger consideration into your mind. The pictures he paints are cool. They are rich and juicy. Like literary gummie bears.

I watched the movie recently thanks to my dad recording it off of AMC for me. Dad flew it all the way to Alaska :) It had Rock Hudson. Ironic!? It was pretty faithful to the original dialogue, with a few minor plot tweaks. I was pretty impressed all and all. I'm kind of a Hemingway junkie at this point. I'm really digging him. I'm halfway through "A Moveable Feast." So, keep an eye out for that review here soon.