Critical Analysis of " a Farewell to Arms" by Earnest Hemingway

2281 Words May 7th, 2011 10 Pages
Frederic Henry, in Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms,” undergoes a self-awakening into the ideas of existentialism. In the beginning of the novel, Henry is a drifter unconsciously searching for a meaning in life. As Henry is slowly discovers the trivialities and horrors of life, he becomes “authentic.” Which means discovering the existential idea that life has no meaning and learning to deal with it. Religion, patriotism, love, and several other outward forms pose as temptations that Henry must conquer in his quest to become authentic.

Henry’s first temptation is that of religion and what it means. Henry flirts with the idea of religion with a series of doubts and questions. What appeals to Henry and religious followers is
…show more content…
Though it may be better.”
“What do you believe in?”
“In sleep.” I said.

Henry dodging the question of the priest doesn’t know what to believe in anymore. The priest says, ““It has to be one or the other.” Basically the priest is saying either you are a believer or not.
Henry believing his own idea that “In defeat we become Christians.” resists defeat even “Though it may be better.” Defeat is better in a sense of giving man a sense of hope and ultimately a reward for a life well spent. The last time religion is given any serious thought is when walking together Henry and Catherine walk past two lovers in the rain next to the cathedral. Henry then begins to ignore temptation and see past the outward forms of religion when Catherine declines his offer to go into the Cathedral:
“I wish they had some place to go.”
“It mightn’t do them any good.”
“I don’t know. Everybody ought to have some place to go.”
“They have the cathedral,” Catherine said.
Henry is still optimistic in that “Everybody ought to have some place to go” but Catherine tells him otherwise. Henry envisions that “some place to go” is finding hope to life through religion.
Catherine rejects his notation in that “It mightn’t do them any good.” Catherine had no faith in religion. She exclaims to Henry that, “You’re my religion. You’re all I got.” Henry’s second temptation is
Open Document