A Farewell to Arms
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. A Farewell to Arms is one of the most famous war novels ever written. Unlike many war stories, however, the novel does not glorify the experience of combat or offer us portraits of heroes as they are traditionally conceived. What is the novel’s attitude toward war? Is it fair to call A Farewell to Arms an antiwar novel?
2. Discuss the various ways in which characters seek solace from the pains of a war-ravaged world. In the end, what does the novel suggest about such comforts?
3. Discuss Frederic Henry as a narrator. Assuming that, as a character, he is writing his story many years after living it, how does he convey its sense of extreme immediacy?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. A Farewell to Arms is a love story as well as a war novel. Discuss the role of love in the novel: how does love affect the characters’ perceptions of war? How does the war shape the characters’ love story?
2.F. Scott Fitzgerald considered Catherine’s character the weak link in A Farewell to Arms. With attention to Catherine’s values and motivations and to the way Hemingway portrays her character, do you agree with Fitzgerald’s opinion? Why or why not?
3. What is the role of foreshadowing in A Farewell to Arms? How might Hemingway’s subtle signaling to the reader that Catherine will die in childbirth change the way the reader approaches the final chapters?
4. Critics often discuss Hemingway’s fiction as a celebration of a specific type of manhood. What kind of man does A Farewell to Arms celebrate, and how does Hemingway achieve this effect?