Important Quotations

(Novels for Students)

1) “All thinking men are atheists.” Page 8
War is one of the major themes examined in A Farewell to Arms, as is religion. In this scene, early in the novel, Frederic Henry is in the mess when some of the officers begin teasing the priest. The major announces he is an atheist, and the priest tells Henry not to read a certain book. The major says then that “all thinking men are atheists,” illustrating the novel’s interpretation of God and religion, and the larger view of the world in general.

For Hemingway, God did not exist, and the universe is indifferent. The resulting world is hostile and muddled, and without God and faith, moral values are also meaningless. The war is an example of this. Although some fight for honor and glory, in fact it is simply a battle between men, without a higher purpose. The Hemingway code hero is able to create personal order without becoming disillusioned in an indifferent world. Hence, thinking men are atheists because they are able to realize that God doesn't exist and still find meaning and purpose in life. Catherine is the code hero of this novel.

2) “One side must stop fighting. Why don’t we stop fighting?” Pages 50-51
Disillusionment with war is another major theme in the war. These words are said by Passini, after Henry goes to Pavla, where a battle will take place. Henry is an American who has joined the Italians in World War I mostly for the excitement of fighting. He states that if the Italians stop fighting, then their homes and sisters would be taken away by the enemy. Passini disagrees. He says nothing is as bad as war, and that war never ends. The only way for it to end is for one side to stop fighting. In the ensuing battle, where Henry is wounded, Passini is killed.

War makes no sense, and throughout the novel, the soldiers comment on the absurdity, the motivations, and the pointlessness of war. Henry comes to realize this throughout the course of the novel, but he, unlike Passini, does not totally give up. Henry finds his own motivation in Catherine, but because Passini refuses to fight anymore, not just in war but in life, he is killed.

3) “You’re my religion.” Page 116
Catherine has already accepted the Hemingway code hero philosophy that God doesn’t exist. She never wavers from this throughout the novel. She was going to wait until marriage to sleep with her fiancé, but after he is killed, she changes this philosophy, deciding not to wait with Henry. Henry and Catherine are kindred spirits, both understanding the illusion they have created in their relationship....

(The entire section is 1069 words.)