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A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

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How is love expressed in A Farewell to Arms?

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The idea of love is explored in many ways in "A Farewell to Arms." The romantic love between Lt. Henry and Catherine is developed over the course of the novel. At the beginning of the novel Lt. Henry has no real connections or attachments to anyone. Henry is infatuated with Catherine when they first meet, and love is treated like a game. Both Catherine and Henry are looking for something to fill the hollowness inside of them. Their bond grows stronger as they face adversities and eventually their love becomes evident. Henry begins to believe that love is more powerful than honor and glory, and his is able to make his own peace with the war and put it behind him.  Sometimes Catherine and Henry's love affair seems like a fantasy (their house in Montreux) and sometimes it seems like a horrific nightmare (Catherine and her baby's death). At the end of the novel Henry is left with nothing, making the reader question if love is real or just an idea like glory or honor.

Love is also explored through the characters of Rinaldi and the Priest. Rinaldi and the Priest represent two different kinds of love--Rinaldi represents the carnal and the priest represents the spiritual. Rinaldi uses sex and relationships as a diversion. The Priest, who seems to have no source of physical love, devotes his life to the spiritual love of God and his fellow man. When Henry is in the hospital recovering from his war injury, he and the priest discuss the difference between true love and lust. The priest mentions that true love requires sacrifice. At the end of the novel, Henry realizes the true meaning of sacrifice after he learns of the deaths of Catherine and his baby.



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