A Farewell to Arms

The Need for Repetition: Hemingway's Sparse Landscape in A Farewell to Arms

In his novel A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway uses parataxis extensively. With this structure Hemingway avoids making causal connections in his narration; this is one of the most famous aspects of Hemingway's writing. But the unpredictability that the anti-causal nature of the narrative suggests, is counteracted by another, less apparent, narrative tool of Hemingway's. The unpredictability is counteracted by the extensive repetition that Hemingway employs in the novel, repetition that finally evinces a world that is somewhat knowable. The central event in the novel is the war, and Hemingway constructs the war to be defined by repeated actions. Just as he constructs the whole war to be comprised of a couple of moves, repeated ad infinitum, Hemingway also designs the narrative so that it is defined by recurring events. This begins with the character's actions as it corresponds to the war, a war which forces them to complete the same social behavior over and over. Hemingway extends this repetition so that it soon invisibly and quietly pervades all of the character's behavior, even small private behavior. Eventually even the words of the novel are seen to return frequently. As Hemingway builds this world in...

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