Accepting Death in Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms
A Farewell To Arms is Ernest Hemingway's poignant yet simple tale of two young lovers who meet during the chaos of W.W.I and the relationship that endures until its tragic end. Frederick Henry, an American lieutenant in the Italian army, and Catherine Barkley, an English volunteer nurse, share a devout love for one another that deepens as Catherine becomes pregnant, yet their blissful relationship becomes tragically shortened as the baby and Catherine die as a result of the birth, leaving Frederick alone to accept their deaths. Written in the distinctive and unimbellished style signature to Ernest Hemingway, "A Farewell To Arms" carries the reader through a roller-coaster of emotions dealing with the idea that death remains as the end of life, and that man must live to its fullest potential while provided the ability to do so.
The concept of understanding and accepting death plays a prominent role in "A Farewell To Arms." The idea of death permeates or lies behind all of the characters' actions. This involves the idea of "when you are dead you are dead" and therefore to pursue the pleasures of life while they remain possible obtain. Hemingway uniquely writes in a manner that continuously places his characters in the face of death; testing them to conquer it and to discover their potential to cope with life's pressures. In A Farewell To Arms Frederick and Catherine shared many glorious times together during their lives. However, death had a subsequent test for Frederick, which was to discover his sense of being through the confrontation of death of Catherine and their baby.
"So that was it. The baby was dead. That was why the doctors looked so tired. But why had they acted the way they did in the room with him? They supposed he would come around and start breathing probably. I had no religion but I knew he ought to have been baptized. But what if he never breathed at all. He hadn't. he had never been alive. Except...