A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway Read-A-Long Week Four

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This is the final week for the read-a-long. Thanks again to Serena and Anna for hosting this read-a-long.
In a separate post I'll review A Farewell To Arms.

1. "In Chapter 31, as Henry is swept down the river, he refers to a 'we.' Who do you think this 'we' is?"
You know, I was wondering the same thing! I too saw that the author used both singular and plural through this part. At first I wondered if he had escaped with another person in the literal sense. I've since re-read this section at least 3 more times studying again this interchange of pronouns. My answer is I'm still not sure why?
Could it be the before and after Henry. Meaning the before his life altering and near death experience, and the after Henry that has escaped near death? Could he be referring to himself and Catherine together? That her presence is with him even though in body she is not? Could it be Hemingway did this to cause us to ask these questions and thus cause a discussion about his book? Or maybe I'm not seeing something that is plainly there to be seen?

2. "After Henry's escape into the river, he talks about not having any obligation to the war effort on either side, though he wishes both sides luck. Do you think he is no longer brave or is it something else? Explain."
Both Serena and Anna feel he is "fed-up" with the Italian Army. I agree. Henry has washed his hands, closed the door so to speak on that chapter of his life. His focus is now on Catherine and the baby. His bravery is in surviving for Catherine and for the baby. He has pushed the Italian Army out and put in its place what he feels is more important, Catherine and the baby. Do you remember when the priest had made that comment about what a person will do for love? "When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve." page 72. Henry has sacrificed his own welfare for Catherine and the baby. He is second.

3. "In this last section, it seems that some humor comes into play between Henry and Catherine. Did this impact your feelings about the characters and/or their relationship?"
It is just them now, their daily relationship. They are living as most expectant couples do, awaiting their baby. Their humor is that maybe they've settled down into an existence where they can relax perse a bit. The war is not looming close to either of them. Their day to day existence is all they deal with.

4. "What did you think of the ending? Did you think it was too abrupt?"
At no point while reading A Farewell To Arms did I feel this was going to be a happy ending story. I was not surprised by the ending either. I would not say abrupt. I would state sad, depressing, sense of loss for Henry. For Henry to have lived through so much and then the end of their relationship, the end of Catherine, the end of the baby, the end of all his hopes and dreams. Gone. I too wanted to know what happened to Henry, did he join-up with the American troops? The war is not over yet, could he have become involved again? Or, did he drink himself to death in a Swiss pub?

5. "What did you think of Catherine's death and Henry's reaction to losing her?"
He's in shock, devastated, angry, sad, emotionally distraught. She had been in labor a lengthy time and he was exhausted as well. What impacted me the most was the final sentences. "But after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn't any good. It was like saying good-by to a statue." In death and before the person has been "presented" so to speak. They do look like a statue, frozen in that last moment of what-ever befell them. I thought of my mother when I read this last part. My mother died of end-stage Alzheimer's. At the end her body was shutting down, no longer able to swallow or breathe-well. It took almost 3 weeks for this process. When she finally died. I was the first person to see her (after the hospice nurse pronounced her.) My mother's face was frozen in that last gasp for breath; it was macabre and sad. My first thought upon seeing her was, "that's not my mother!" In a sense it was, and in a sense it was not. What was left visually was the broken shell. My mother was gone, in heaven. For me to say goodbye to a dead body is too late. Maybe this helps with closure, or maybe not. Henry probably had to see for himself Catherine's body, yet it is a picture he will remember in his mind which I'm afraid will worsen his already problem with alcohol.

6. "What are your overall impressions of A Farewell To Arms?"
I'm glad I read it. It was not boring. It is not my "cup of tea" so to speak, not a book I would have chosen on my own. It is memorable, I will not forget these 2 lovers who's end was snuffed out to early.
The later half of book was the best. Henry's narrative of the front, his near death and then escape, he and Catherine's short time together in Switzerland---all of these made it memorable for me.

I'll be writing a short review soon.

Comments

  1. I agree with you that the latter half of the book was best. I did like the parts at the Front, but I think the beginning could have been better executed and allowed us to get to know henry better.

    As for death and dead bodies, I felt the same when I saw my nana after she passed from congestive heart failure. She was not there, she had gone on.

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  2. I'm glad I read it, too, but it definitely doesn't make my favorites shelf. I, too, wonder what happened to Henry in the end, and I agree he probably drank heavily after he left the hospital.

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