Themes of A Farewell to Arms

Themes of A Farewell to Arms

Hemingway’s themes initially simply sit at the bottom of the surface and rise to the top through conversation and action. The major themes of the novel are:

The futility of war

The novel “A Farewell to Arms” takes place in Italy during First World War, and the lives of all the characters are marked by the war. Most of the characters of the novel are humanists who agree with Hemingway’s view that war is a senseless waste of life.


Many young men signed up to defend their countries during the destructive First World War and they believed their valor would bring recognition and glory for them. These bright-eyed men faced the horrors of war: senseless violence, horrific living conditions, and terrible loss but soon they realized that they were nameless that is why in the novel, the brave men such as Passini, Rinaldi, Bonello, and even Frederic Henry question why they had joined the battle and what they could possibly contribute.


Life is tough for the soldiers and on the battlefield losses are common, deaths are grisly, and recoveries are painful. The men are given few opportunities to recover from their daily stress. So they use mean pleasures as a means of escaping their realities. Throughout the novel, Henry and other soldiers drink excessively to forget where they are and what they have experienced. They frequently engage in illicit sexuality to forget their realities of life.

Love and loss

Henry is a man who has an aversion to love. Yet in spite of his natural cynicism and disgust about love, he falls in love with Catherine. Contrarywise, Catherine falls in love to just overcome her losses in love. The loss of Catherine’s fiancé on a battlefield in France before the novel begins and the foreshadowing of the loss Henry will have to live with at the novel’s end when Catherine dies in childbirth. In fact, the intensified relationship of Catherine and Henry seems almost dependent on the loss surrounding them.

Search for the ideal life

In the novel “A Farewell to Arms”, Hemingway has shown the destructions of the war from the beginning to Henry’s escape from the mouth of death. But After Henry and Catherine escape to Switzerland it has been totally changed because they lead there an ideal life free from the tension and anxiety of war.

Click here: For notes of the novels

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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