Literary war novel

Point of View

Henry narrates the story in the first person but sometimes switches to the second person during his more philosophical reflections. Henry relates only what he sees and does and only what he could have learned of other characters from his experiences with them.


As the autobiographical nature of the work suggests, Hemingway’s apparent attitude toward the story is identical to that of the narrator.




1916–1918, in the middle of World War I, in Italy and Switzerland


Catherine’s conviction that dreadful things are going to occur; the rainfall that scares her in the night; the doctor’s warning that Catherine’s hips are narrow; Henry’s musing on how life kills the good, the gentle, and the brave

Major Conflict

While there is no single, clear-cut conflict, friction does arise when Henry’s love for Catherine cannot quell his innate restlessness.

Rising Action

Henry and Catherine’s flirtatious games prepare and sometimes foreshadow their love for each other; their last days together before Henry’s return to the front zero in on the demands of love versus Henry’s life outside his relationship with Catherine.


Broadly speaking, the Italian retreat, but more specifically, Henry’s capture and near-execution by the battle police

Falling Action

Henry’s decision to flee and quit the army marks his farewell to arms and his commitment to Catherine.