Skip to main content

Why You Should Read A Farewell To Arms By Ernest Hemingway

No other writer did more changes in the style of English prose in the 20th century as Ernest Hemingway did. And his efforts were awarded very well. He is now considered to be one of the most followed writers of English prose in the 20th century. He was awarded The Pulitzer award for The Old man and the sea in 1953 and the Nobel Prize in 1954 for his contribution to English literature.

Written in autobiographical tone, A Farewell to Arms is considered to be one the best novels emerged from World War 1. It is a story of Lieutenant Henry, an American, and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. They meet in Italy and fall in love.

Movie poster: A Farewell to Arms

Movie poster: A Farewell to Arms

Plot of 'A Farewell to Arms'

The novel is divided into five books. In the first book, Frederic Henry, a Red Cross ambulance driver, meets Catherine Barkley who is a nurse’s aide. They start seeing each other.

At Italian frontier, Henry's is wounded by a mortar shell and he is taken to the hospital in Milan. Catherine takes care of him.

In the second book, their romance flourishes as they spend time together. By the time, he is healed, Catherine is three months pregnant.

In the third book, Henry returns to his unit. Italians retreat after the Austrian breaks through the Italian lines in the battle of Caporetto. Then, he is caught by battle police, and taken to a place for interrogation. He learns that each one that is being interrogated is executed for treachery that supposedly is the reason of Italian defeat. He escapes from there by jumping into the river.

In the fourth book, Henry and Catherine reunite and flee to Switzerland in a rowboat.

In the final book, Henry and Catherine live a quiet life in the mountains. One day, she is admitted to the hospital due to labor. Their baby boy is stillborn, and she dies from hemorrhage. Henry returns to the hotel in the rain.


A Farewell to Arms was adapted for both stage and movie. In 1930, it was adapted for stage by Laurence Stallings, and in 1932, for film by Frank Borzage. The film, starring Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper, won Academy awards for the best Cinematography and the best sound. In 1957, there was another remake of A Farewell to Arms, which didn't attract much praise though. It was adapted for three-part television series in 1996.

Famous quotes from 'A Farewell to Arms'

“'ll fall in love with me all over again."

"Hell," I said, "I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?"

"Yes. I want to ruin you."

"Good," I said. "That's what I want too.

“All thinking men are atheists.”

Scroll to Continue

“But life isn't hard to manage when you've nothing to lose.”

“When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve.”

“Why, darling, I don't live at all when I'm not with you.”

“I'm not unfaithful, darling. I've plenty of faults but I'm very faithful. You'll be sick of me I'll be so faithful.”

“You know I don't love any one but you. You shouldn't mind because someone else loved me.”

“There isn't always an explanation for everything.”

“There isn't any me. I'm you. Don't make up a separate me.”

“You're my religion. You're all I've got.”

Why to read 'A Farewell to Arms'

If you want to experience joy and terror at the same time, you should read A Farewell to Arms. If you are a fan of 'Papa', you should grab the copy of A Farewell to Arms. If you want to read one of the best World War1 American novels, you should read A Farewell to Arms. And the most important is this novel is originated in the author's life. Ernest Hemingway enlisted as an ambulance driver for Red Cross in World War1.

It is a good read for any book lover, but for Hemingway’s fans, A Farewell to Arms is a must read.

What say you?

Listen to Audio book 'A Farewell to Arms'


Sandeep Rathore (author) from New Delhi on May 04, 2015:

Thanks Anne, for such a thoughtful comment!

Anne Harrison from Australia on May 04, 2015:

It is a fascinating book, and much of the tension arises from his deceptively simple prose. Like e.e. cummings (whose semi-autobiographical The Enormous Room is set in WWI), Hemingway belongs a generation of American writers who, to foreign eyes at least, no longer exist: multilingual and trans-cultural, travelling the world and volunteering in various wars and conflicts. His prizes and accolades are justly deserved.

Sandeep Rathore (author) from New Delhi on May 02, 2015:

Maybe, those people don't like simple and bare truth. Art must be true, not beautiful.

Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on May 02, 2015:

O yes he did. Some people don't get his work. They don't get the symbolism and the imagery. Too bad coz' they're missing out for sure.

Sandeep Rathore (author) from New Delhi on May 02, 2015:

I'm a great fan of his plain and terse prose. He always dipicted the reality of life using just a few words.

" Man is not made for defeat."

Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on May 02, 2015:

One of my favourites too.

Sandeep Rathore (author) from New Delhi on May 02, 2015:

I like everything he wrote. Ernest Hemingway is my favorite author. Thanks for stopping by, Akriti.

Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on May 02, 2015:

Good you wrote this post. 'A Farewell to Arms' is a must read book.

"A Farewell to Arms" is a finer piece of work than "The Sun Also Rises." :)

Sandeep Rathore (author) from New Delhi on April 21, 2015:

Thanks, Lee for kind words.

Lee Cloak on April 21, 2015:

Nice hub, I'll put A Farewell To Arms on my must read list, thanks, Lee

Sandeep Rathore (author) from New Delhi on March 25, 2015:

Thanks Miss De, for reading it. Much appreciated.

Kamalika De on March 25, 2015:

Certainly a helpful writing for Hemingway lover like me. I haven't read the book yet. But Sandeep I must say your post has awakened my hunger to read it. Thanks.

Related Articles