The book, A Farewell to Arms was written by Ernest Hemingway. Throughout the book, Hemingway creates two main characters, that endure multiple hardships, love, and pain. Lieutenant Frederic Henry and Catherine Berkley meet in the most crucial times in their lives. In the book, many of the symbols give the reader an emotional connection to the book.
Hemingway was a master in capturing the essence of the story. The symbols and words provide a basis for the structure of the novel, and for the loss of technical language. This form of writing style leaves the imagination of the reader to interpret the characters emotions. The author uses symbols to foreshadow events that take place, and underscores the theme of love and pain.
The most recognizable symbol in the book would be rain. Rain is a symbol of death, grief, and pain. Hemingway uses the symbol so that the feelings associated with it seems existent to the reader. It illustrates many of the negative feelings that we feel in real life. One example of the rain symbolizing death would be foreshadowing Catherine’s death. On page 131, Catherine says to Henry, “All right. I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it.”
From this quote, we can understand that it is foreshadowing the death of Catherine, and it adds more depth to death being a real thing. Another conversation between Catherine and Henry on page 131, Henry asks Catherine, “You’re not really afraid of the rain are you?” Catherine proceeds to say, ” Not when I’m with you.”
This quote emphasizes the importance of Catherine not having any fear of dying when she’s in the presence of Henry. The rain in this situation demonstrates that Catherine will die while it’s raining uncontrollably outside, but she has no fear of it since she has Henry by her side,
In addition, the term “permanent rain” is indeed death itself. It’s the whole threat that looms over the entire book. Rain is out of human control, so when it’s raining it’s a reference to when humans aren’t able to control a situation. For example, on page 4, it says, “But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army.” This quote references cholera. During the time of war, cholera was a deadly disease that took the lives of many men.
Cholera effortlessly wipes out vast amounts of soldiers. Since cholera is a symbolized by rain, it’s like the rain washes the men away as easily as it erodes the dirt on the ground. The rain steadily falling is a constant reminder to the reader of the violence of the war and the inevitability of death. The permanent rain shows that the soldiers can do little to protect themselves, which implies cholera again. They’re weak, helpless, and weighed down by their equipment.
The symbol of rain is not just symbolizing death and grief, but it also illustrates disaster. When Henry gets arrested in chapter 30, the troops had him and a lieutenant-colonel standing in the rain about to be executed. On page 312, Henry says, “He walked in the rain, an old man with his hat off, a carabiniere on either side.
I did not watch them shot him, but I heard the shots.” This pivotal time could have changed the book around in a matter of seconds. The rain is significant during this time because it helps the reader understand the underlying theme of pain. The pain during this event lead Henry to believe he was going to be executed like the other men.
Another symbol that was presented throughout the book was seasons. At the beginning of the book on page 3, it is, “dry and white in the sun.” The dryness outside is identified as summer. From the beginning of the book to when Catherine tells Henry that she’s pregnant in chapter 11, the season is summer. The sunny hospital in Milan gives a temporary respite from the war. During the warm, hospital weather, Henry is able to forget the war as he falls deeper in love with Catherine.
According to Michael Reynolds, the author of establishes the rhythmical flow of the seasons that counterpoints the violent pattern of the war. Reynolds also says, ” Throughout the book there will be these two cycles in operation: the seasonal cycle of the land and the seasonal cycle of the war. The destructiveness of the war cycle is dependent upon the same seasonal weather changes that regenerate the land.” Both of the quotes demonstrate how the changing of the seasons are associated with the changing of the war.
Throughout the book, snow is a prominent weather pattern. Although snow is not as important as rain in the story, snow does play a factor in symbolizing the feeling of safety, hope, and contradicts the rain. Snow stands for safety, which is very ironic due to the actual meaning inferring the opposite. Hendry describes the priest’s home region of Abruzzi as a “place where the roads were frozen and hard as iron, where it was clear and cold and dry and the snow was dry and powdery. . .” (Hemingway 13).
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