What is the relationship between love and pain in A Farewell to Arms?  

The relationship between love and pain in A Farewell to Arms is a very close and intimate one. It’s notable, for instance, that Catherine attempts to seduce Henry partly as a way of mitigating her pain over the loss of her fiancé. As for Henry, he sees love as an escape from the pain of war.

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Love and pain are shown to be different aspects of the same problem, which is the catastrophe of war. War causes the physical pain of Henry's wound, of course, and it is to care for the wounded that made Catherine become a nurse.

But more significantly, the war represents a kind of randomness that both brings the characters together while at the same time tearing them apart. Much of the horror Henry witnesses in the war is a reflection of this randomness. Henry's capture by the Germans and his subsequent escape and reunion with Catherine are examples of this randomness.

Similarly, Henry's love for Catherine is a kind of refuge for both of them from the war. Catherine is dealing with the pain of losing a fiancé in combat, and Henry is struggling with the emotional effects of the brutality he has witnessed. Through each other, they hope to escape the trauma of the war. Henry's decision to desert and look for Catherine is an expression of this, an assertion of his own personal agency in...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 949 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on July 21, 2020
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