A Farewell to Arms – Imagery Paper Essay Example
A Farewell to Arms – Imagery Paper Essay Example

A Farewell to Arms – Imagery Paper Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1204 words)
  • Published: November 21, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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Ernest Hemingway incorporated ample imagery in his World War I book, A Farewell to Arms, encompassing various senses including sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste throughout its five books. These senses are related to the themes exhibited throughout the novel and offer an opportunity to understand Hemingway’s writing style more profoundly. Readers get to experience World War I through Lieutenant Henry's perspective and witness the impacts it had.

In A Farewell to Arms, Book One, taste is emphasized as significant. Often, we relish the taste of certain foods or beverages, which can lead us to desire them more. In one instance, Lieutenant Fredric Henry drinks wine that tastes like decaying metal. Hemingway writes, “It tasted of rusty metal, I handed the canteen back to Passani” (p. 54). The reader can almost taste the rusty, metallic flavor and be


reminded of the taste of blood.

Hemingway displays his writing style by providing an explicit depiction of how our bodies yearn for sustenance to quench hunger or thirst. Even though Henry described the wine as tasting like "rusty metal," he persisted in drinking it later. The "rusty metal" flavor of the wine could function as a symbol of blood, which tastes like metal, and potentially foreshadows future bloodshed from impending shelling. Moreover, the wine represents the theme of diversions. Henry continues to consume the rotten wine to divert his thoughts from the bleak realities of warfare and death. Touch plays a crucial role in our lives, as we experience daily tactile sensations counting brushing against rough rocks or soft fabrics.

In Book Two of the novel, Henry explains how he feels protected by Catherine Barkley, both mentally and physically

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particularly by her hair. He describes the experience of watching her remove her hairpins, causing her hair to fall around them both, and feeling like they are inside a tent or behind a waterfall. Hemingway's writing style gives the impression of being sheltered by this silk-like barrier of hair. Henry loves Catherine's hair, enjoying the sensation of it against his skin. Ultimately, he feels that he is being safeguarded by the outside world, presenting him an almost shelter-like feeling.

As Europe is consumed by a raging war, Henry and Catherine deeply feel the impact and crave love and protection, linking to the theme of “love as a response to the horrors of war and the world”. Their desire to be shielded from harm is illustrated through Catherine’s beautiful hair, which Henry is captivated by. Additionally, Henry experiences scent during his trip back to Milan in Book Three, highlighting the significance of this sense in interpreting our surroundings.

According to Hemingway on page 232, you didn't have any affection for floor of a flat-car, guns with canvas jackets and the odor of vaselined metal, or a canvas that let in rain. Henry possibly found the scent of vaselined metal familiar as he was seated among the guns that were covered by a tarpaulin on the train. He mentions in the second-person the things that he doesn't cherish while returning to Milan to reunite with Catherine. Hemingway suggests that this smell of vaselined metal was likely common for soldiers of World War I as they were always enclosed by artillery.

During his journey back to Milan, Henry expresses his lack of affection for the persistent odor of greased

metal, highlighting the harsh reality of war and the influence it has on one’s response to love. Henry longs to reunite with Catherine and ultimately deserts the army, emphasizing the theme of abandonment. This action symbolizes Henry’s “a farewell to arms.” Moreover, Henry’s distaste for the smell of vaselined metal illustrates that he will not miss its familiar aroma. Hemingway also uses sound as a tool to create atmosphere, exemplified when Henry wakes up to the sound of rain hitting the window-panes during a stormy night (p. 264).

In Book Four, Henry was awoken during the night by the sound of rain, which often symbolizes destruction in A Farewell to Arms. Rain is associated with negative events, and in the book, it falls when something bad is going to happen or already happening. When Catherine's life ended, Henry walked into the rain, and his life fell apart. The rain angrily lashed against the window panes, waking Henry up before he received a knock on the door from the barman informing him that he would be arrested the following morning.

Hemingway's writing style uses rain as a foreshadowing technique, particularly in the death of Catherine. Though it can also represent cleansing, the rain at the end of the novel may have plunged Henry into loneliness and grief but it also marked a fresh start, as without escaping to Switzerland he would have been arrested. The violent rain almost predicts that something bad will happen if Henry doesn't take action. When Henry and Catherine are on the river in a boat, the rain calms as they move further from Italy. Sight is a crucial sense that allows us to

perceive the world's colors and identify objects.

In Book Five of A Farewell to Arms, a snow storm diminishes sight, hindering the characters' ability to walk far. One character, having already made a trail to the station, finds it difficult to reach it due to the intense blowing snow. In an effort to regain visibility, they seek refuge in a nearby inn where they clean themselves off with a broom and enjoy vermouths while waiting for the storm to pass. Catherine and Henry are unable to fully see while walking in Switzerland due to the blinding effects of the snow, as described on page 296 of Hemingway's novel.

The cruel white flakes created a near-impenetrable barrier ahead, causing Henry and Catherine to seek refuge in an inn. Hemingway imbues the snow with symbolic significance as representative of family; Switzerland has become their new home after leaving Italy. Despite the blinding snowstorm hindering their afternoon walk, it could also be seen as a metaphor for mutual support. Henry assists the pregnant Catherine on her way, and at the inn, they rest, converse, and remove snow from each other. The storm's savagery, similar to rain, foreshadows Catherine's impending death by drowning.

Despite the rough storm, it could symbolize the roughness of love which brings struggles, fears and pain. Catherine and Henry both have fears of losing each other and face difficulties throughout the book. However, they assist each other through thick and thin, including the snow storm and other parts of the story. For instance, Catherine supports Henry when he injures his knee and is hospitalized in Milan, even using her hair to comfort him. Similarly, Henry helps Catherine

during her pregnancy and as she grows stronger throughout the story. This all relates to the theme that snow represents family and how a family supports each other through difficult times.

Hemingway's use of imagery in A Farewell to Arms allowed our senses to experience the war on multiple levels - we could see, hear, smell and even taste the "rusty metal." This immersive quality kept us engaged throughout the novel, fully invested in Hemingway's unique style and perspective on World War I.

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