A what was going to happen next, and

A Farewell to Arms If The Sun Also Rises was one of the
best books I have ever read, then A Farewell to Arms is
Truth. I simply cannot believe that these books existed so
long without my knowledge of how grand they are. I
consider myself to read constantly, more than almost anyone
I know, literature and simple, and here in less than a month I
read two books that are undoubtedly among the best I have
encountered. How many other good books exist that I have
yet to read? Am I really a reader? Will I ever finish them all?
What will I do if I tire of reading? When I finished FTA I
was of course stunned by the death of Catherine and the
baby and Henry’s sudden solitude. “What happens now?” I
felt, as I so often do when I finish a book that I want to go
on forever. This is infinitely more difficult with a book that
has no conclusion, and FTA leaves a reader not only
emotionally exhausted but also just as alone as Henry and
with nowhere to go. The entire work was aware of where it
was going and what was going to happen next, and then to
stop the way it did was unfair. Now, I’ve read enough
essays while deciding which would be the topic for my class
presentation that I know many people see that the unfairness
of life and the insignificance of our free will are apparently
the most important themes in the book, but I don’t agree. I
also don’t agree that it is a war story or a love story. Exactly
what it is, though, is not clear to me. Can’t art exist without
being anything? “There isn’t always an explanation for
everything.” War and love are obviously important themes in
the book, and the relationship between the two is explored
by Hemingway and, somewhat, by Henry. In the first two
Books we are in the war and the war is overwhelming. In
the last two Books we are in love. And, just as the first two
Books are peppered with love in the time of war, the last
two Books are tinged with war in the time of love. The third
Book is the bridge between the two ‘stories’ and it is not
surprising that it centers on the escape. It is during the
escape that Henry resolves that he is through with the war (a
war in which he really has no place) and decides that all he
wants is to be with Catherine. Until the third Book Henry
doesn’t seem to be agonizingly concerned with matters of
right or wrong in the war and it seems, in fact, separate from
him. Even when he is injured it doesn’t appear that he is
really a part of the war which surrounds him. He maintains a
distance from it and this distance isn’t really closed until
Aymo is killed by his own army, he discovers that Bonello is
only staying with him out of respect, and he is almost killed
as a spy. After this he resolves to desert the army and be
reunited with his love, Catherine. Henry is no dummy and he
could easily tell that everything was not all correct with Cat,
which leads to the question of his love for her. You must
admit that Cat is a bit…well… flaky when they first meet. She
loses that persona soon enough, although I couldn’t help but
distrust her integrity until somewhere in the middle of the
fourth Book. It is also difficult to believe wholeheartedly in
his love for her until much later in their relationship, and it
leaves me wondering if he is leaving his involvement in the
war because of his unfailing love for Cat or if Cat and any
feelings he has for her are just excuses to escape the insanity
of the war he experiences in the third Book. When he is with
Catherine, they are in another place, untouched by the war,
both symbolically (in the tent of her hair) and literally (in
Switzerland). It seems like I don’t ever say anything
earth-shattering, or even critical, in these response papers,
and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to do that. The line, “The
war seemed as far away as the football games of some one
else’s college,” is beautiful.
Book Reports


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