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The protagonist of Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry, serves in the Italian army as a lieutenant and ambulance driver because the United States has not officially joined World War I yet. World War I begins in in 1914, but the United States does not declare war on the Central Powers until 1917.
Despite the U.S.'s reservations about becoming involved with an overseas conflict, many young men across the country felt a moral or philosophical calling to become involved or join the Allied armies to defeat the Kaiser. Many other young men travelled to Europe and enlisted with the Allies to seek adventure. Frederic Henry enlisted with the Italian army for a combination of these reasons.
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