A Farewell to Arms

Tragedy in A Farewell to Arms 11th Grade

Ernest Hemingway called his novel A Farewell to Arms his “Romeo and Juliet.” The most obvious similarity between these works is their star-crossed lovers, as noted by critic Carlos Baker; another is that the deaths of both Juliet and Hemingway’s Catherine are precipitated by ironic accidents. In Catherine’s case, the irony is that it’s a biological mistake that killed her and not the war she and her lover had managed to escape. Hemingway’s novel also shares the five-part format of Romeo and Juliet (introduction, complication, climax, resolution, and conclusion) and integrates short scenes into the whole tale of love and loss.

In Book One, Hemingway introduces his major characters and setting with a slightly journalistic style that is detached but sorrowful as he sketches the harsh life on the battlefront of a small Italian town Catherine, an English nurse's aide in the town's British hospital. Henry is a conflicted soldier; having enlisted in the army with neither a thirst for glory nor a hearty belief in its cause, he is easily drained by the war. Catherine mourns the death of her fiancé from the war the previous year. As the book goes on, their love affair between the two revives their spirits after their suffering and...

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