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In A Farewell to Arms, what are some existential quotations or scenes?

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deusexmachinaa | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 9, 2011 at 9:01 AM via web

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In A Farewell to Arms, what are some existential quotations or scenes?

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 24, 2013 at 12:21 PM (Answer #1)

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In A Farewell to Arms, scenes that explore individualism and/or an exploration of identity are good places to examine the role that existentialism plays in the novel.  In short, existentialism revolves around the idea that each individual must create his/her own self and that there is no "essence" to what makes up a person.  At the beginning of the novel, the protagonist Lt. Henry is left unnamed, which is an implicit reference to the existentialist idea that Lt. Henry must "create" himself.  Before Lt. Henry meets Catherine Barkley, he has little sense of individual purpose.  However, as their relationship progresses, Lt. Henry builds his life around Catherine.  When the priest visits Lt. Henry in the hospital, Lt. Henry, although sympathetic to the priest's ideas about God, cannot bring himself to say that he believes in God, but he does believe in the relationship that he has with Catherine.  Thus, he "creates" himself around the love that the two share.

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