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The Absurdity of War and Love in “A Farewell to Arms”

“A Farewell to Arms” is Hemingway’s early representative work. He uses prose poems in a smooth and slightly melancholy style to take us into the life of Henry, an Italian captain and officer during World War I. Like “The Sun Also Rises”, there are still very few positive and in-depth psychological descriptions. We can only guess the real situation and psychological state of the characters in the book through the ubiquitous dialogues in the novel. Is such a method of expressing the image of the characters mainly relying on rich dialogues, is it that Hemingway deliberately did it? If I hadn’t read Hemingway’s later works, which contain a lot of nuanced psychological descriptions, I would really think so. However, when I finished reading the whole book, I suddenly realized that no psychological activity is the most real psychological activity. The seemingly casual and indifferent way of speaking and doing things reflects the bottomless confusion of the characters’ inner world.

When the Italian asked Henry curiously why an American wanted to come to Italy as an officer, Henry’s answer was that he didn’t know. For Henry, everything seemed to go with the flow. He has no sense of fear. Even when he was hit by shrapnel and passed out while eating cheese in the trenches, he just felt that he was dead in a trance and plainly, without any special emotional changes. Compared with Yes, the companion next to the trench looked at his bloody broken leg that had been blown away, and cried out in surprise and pain, praying desperately that he would die soon. In the ambulance, Henry, who was drowsy due to serious injuries, was awakened by the blood dripping from the upper bunk. He just calmly reported to the driver. When the blood dripped suddenly stopped, he knew that the person on the upper bunk was dead. , He was just silent, as if this incident had never happened.

As the officer in charge of ambulance management, he could hardly see any enemy troops, but the war still showed him the cruelty. However, the horrific experience of injuries did not prevent him from returning to the front line after healed his injured leg. When he saw his former comrades-in-arms, they were all surprised, why did he return to this unlucky place? I think the reason that drove him back to the front line again was not his love of war, on the contrary, it was just the extreme confusion in his heart that made him involuntarily do things according to the inertia. This aimless state of life, when the war failed and Henry was ordered to lead the ambulance team to retreat, something changed. On the way to evacuate, Henry and his driver shot together, and angrily killed an Italian sergeant who begged for a ride, but refused to help when the car got stuck in the mud halfway and spoke rudely. The driver was also killed by his own army on the way to escape later, just because the other party mistook him for an enemy army. Such is the absurdity of human death in war.

When Henry escaped from the dangerous area, he was controlled by the Italian army as a suspected German spy because of his officer status and foreign accent. They were interrogated one by one, and then shot one by one, and no one was spared. Those young people said angrily: “It is because of you people that we lost the battle!” A colonel asked angrily and dismissively: “Have you ever retreated? Don’t interrogate, shoot if you want to be shot!” At this time At this moment, the absurd war and the absurd massacre had probably awakened Henry, who had always been confused and numb. When it was his turn, he miraculously escaped by jumping into the river while no one was paying attention.

Just as confused as Henry is Henry’s girlfriend, Catherine, an English nurse. Catherine once had a passionate boyfriend she grew up with, whom she could have married before the war, but she didn’t and he died in battle. In the field hospital, she held something like a stick left by her dead lover, and narrated the past seemingly plainly, but in fact, her heart must have been greatly hurt, otherwise she would not give up her moral restraint and follow the nurse’s attitude. Identity and Henry dated in the ward, got pregnant regardless of the consequences but didn’t need Henry to worry about it, and confidently said that he could arrange everything so that Henry could return to the battlefield without worry. When we meet, he probably won’t know that Catherine actually has no plan at all, she is like another Henry, everything is resigned to fate and let nature take its course.

A pair of elegant talk, calm demeanor, going in and out of high-end hotels and cafes, seemingly peaceful and happy young lovers, who would have thought that they actually have no plans for life, just enjoy the present in a way of forgetting their troubles, take one step at a time, be fascinated Live in a daze? How happy they were when they smuggled to Switzerland by rowing a small boat overnight in order to avoid being hunted down, and passed the customs smoothly! They confirmed each other’s incredible success over and over again like children, just like they confirmed each other’s love over and over again, they should have felt the illusion and unreality of this sudden happiness in the dark. They waited carefully for the birth of their child. Catherine endured the great pain of dystocia, but kept calm all the time. She always seemed to want to show Henry her best side. However, no one could prevent the tragedy, and Catherine finally lost her life in a post-Cesarean hemorrhage, and her baby died earlier. Before she died, Catherine said: “She is not afraid of death, she just hates death.” What a desperate and confused expression!

War is absurd, love is illusory, fate is impermanent, and death is inevitable. Hemingway uses a large number of detailed descriptions of life and a large number of seemingly insignificant dialogues with a sense of the scene, which makes people feel immersive, as if they have returned to that era, drinking all kinds of wine, eating different kinds of food, Chatting with people with different styles, instant carpe diem, as if war and misfortune do not exist. Since the end of life is already determined, why should we choose pain? Since the tragedy cannot be avoided, isn’t it the best choice to be calm and calm?

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