A Farewell To Arms

Ernest Hemingway’s, A Farewell To Arms is a classic novel written shortly after WWI. It depicts some of the events Hemingway himself experienced, but the plot is more elaborate compared to how things turned out for him in real life. It surrounds a soldier’s love affair with a nurse he meets while recovering in hospital and their short time together. The two characters are interesting to read and depict how we react to loss, and how we survive in the madness of the world.


The story takes place in a WWI setting. A soldier is severely wounded and finds himself in hospital being taken care of by a nurse. The nurse is depicted as very feminine in that she cares for the soldier very intensely. But at the same time, she is an independent thinker and chooses her own path in life. Ernest Hemingway was also wounded during that war and taken to hospital, so it is assumed that the soldier character is based on his own experiences. However he did not start an affair with his nurse as his character did.

Basic plot

The characters have a wild affair while the soldier is recovering. This part of the novel depicts the passionate love these two have and contributes much of the romantic feelings lovers have for each other. But later, after the soldier returns to battle, it is discovered that his love has fallen pregnant. The fighting finally ends for the soldier and he joins his nurse to start a life with her. On their way to their destination via train, the nurse goes into labour and dies—much to the grief of the main character.


Many have criticized Hemingway’s depiction of the nurse, saying that she is too easily disposed of in the story. Others claim that Hemingway was a sexist and that the nurse’s part was nothing more than a sex and baby-making object. However, others see the character of the nurse as an independent thinker who made her own choices—no matter how consequential they may have been.

The soldier is lost after the death of his lover. It is implied that he roams around for the rest of his life having lost the love of his life as well as their child. His lack of fulfilment is haunting and once again Hemingway manages to leave us with sadness at the end of his novel.

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