"A Farewell to Arms" is a beautiful novel, a love story set in the background of war.But it is not just a love story or a war story for that matter.It is a story of a quest for the meaning of life.
Henry is an American citizen serving the Italian army.He has no relative to speak of.So he indulges in sensual pleasures.However, once he happens to meet a British nurse named Catherine Barkley who leaves an indelible impression upon him he changes for ever. They fall in love.Henry's world views undergoes a sea change.He begins to think that life is, after all worth living.But the war does no let them be together.
Hemingway makes the reader and sit and read the novel.A perceptive reader does not find anything out of place in it.His narration is remarkable for its simplicity and elegance.The coincidence in Henry getting wounded and Catherine being transferred to the hospital where Henry is taken is not unbelievable.
The unexpected death of Catherine,when everything seems to fall in place,saddens the reader much.But that is what makes it a great love story.Hemingway brings out the violence involved in war more effectively than any other writer.
Hemingway successfully contrasts the violence of war and love and affection of ordinary people.And that makes it a great war novel
The personality change Henry undergoes is remarkable.A man who used to wander about and spend time at bars and brothels is transformed into a responsible,caring lover and husband (though they are not formally married). The priest teaches him that love is self sacrifice and what is important is loving others not being loved or served. Henry tries to practice it.That makes A Farewell to Arms a great novel about human condition