Farewell To Arms

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Symbolism of Rain in A Farewell to Arms Are the characters the sole representation of all emotion in a novel? Not in A Farewell to Arms. This unique tale, written by Ernest Hemingway, was based loosely around his personal experiences in World War I. However, instead of being an autobiography, this book was centered on two lovers, Catherine Barkley and Frederic Henry. In A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway showed his exceptional ability to conjure up magnificent imagery; he often used human nature in such a way that worked with his purpose. His purpose in this story was to use rain as a symbol of dismal and depressing thoughts or events. Furthermore, he knew that it was human nature to connect the two. With this knowledge, he intensified the setting by using weather to convey emotions of characters. All the way through A Farewell to Arms rain symbolized the coming or past events containing sorrow or mourning.

This representation of rain foreshadowing trouble was first revealed by Catherine Barkley. Frederic Henry and she were in their hotel room late one night when it began to rain. The presence of the rain seemed to bother Catherine and she began to get uneasy. As if to settle her apprehension, Catherine began to question Frederic on how true his love was for her.

"And you'll always love me, won't you?*" she asked. Frederic replied yes, but as if feeling great uncertainty, she continued, "And the rain won't make any difference?*" "No,*" Frederic answered. It was out of insecurity that Catherine asked if the rain would make a difference. She felt the rain would make a difference, and asking Frederic if it wouldn't reassured her. Catherine uses the rain as if to console herself about her relationship with Frederic. In this passage the rain seemed to have the weight of Catherine and Frederic's relationship on its shoulders.

What she revealed next tied the feelings all together. "That's good. Because I'm afraid of the rain.*" It was this fear of the rain that caused her to be so uncertain about Frederic, as if, with the fall of the rain, he would change and become a different man, ceasing to love her. Her fear strengthened the portrayal of rain as a miserable entity. However, this was only the beginning of having rain symbolize a great deal more than just the weather.

Rain also signified important turning points in the book. When Catherine announced to Frederic that they were going to have a baby, this indicated the true start of the long journey that was to follow. Frederic knew this, and, in a sense, felt suffocated and trapped in the relationship. The next day it rained, confirming that the characters were having troubled thoughts. Indeed, that day, while it was raining, Frederic described how "in the morning after breakfast I was nauseated." (Page 142). He felt queasy because he knew the birth to come was going to be a life changing event. The rain in this chapter was used as a symbol of turmoil for the characters, in particular, Frederic. These feelings Frederic felt soon faded, as did the rain.

However, the rainfall reappeared when Catherine dove into uncertainty about her pregnancy. "I never felt like a whore before," she said. (Page 152) The rain was apparent during this time, and all the while Frederic had to reassure her of how everything would be okay. With the coming of the downpour, one could almost foreshadow that the gay moods of the characters would sharply turn, which they did. The rain was one of doubt: doubt that the couple's love would last, and the pregnancy was the test. The skies cleared and the two made it through both their dilemmas, and continued on with life. Yet, the happiness that came on with the disappearance of the rain would soon fade as the clouds rolled over.

All of these events took place while Frederic was in the war, and it was the downbeat atmosphere of the war that led to more predicaments. Frederic was to leave on a train to go attend a meeting about a mission he had to undertake. That night, "the rain was clear and transparent against the light from the station." (Page 157). It symbolized oncoming anguish between Catherine and Frederic as they soon faced good-byes. Still, good-byes weren't the height of their struggles.

The baby still had not been born, and underneath both of the character's skin was still nervousness, which was signified by the coming of a storm. The birth came suddenly, one dark night, at the hotel where they were staying. Frederic rushed Catherine to the hospital; they were both overwhelmed with joy and the night was clear. However, the approaching tempest was an immediate warning of oncoming anxiety. The rain continued on, and as the day went on, Frederic got news that Catherine had the baby. The nurse, however, informed him it had died. Frederic, shockingly, did not seemed phased by this for some reason which even he wasn't sure about. Yet, that was barely the beginning. As the drops pounded on the roof, more bad news came, Catherine hadn't survived either. This rain symbolized the "drenched" feeling of pain and mourning that Frederic felt. The novel ends appropriately with Frederic leaving the hospital and, "walk[ing] back to the hotel in the rain." (Page 332). This scene is particularly effective because it shows the symbolism of the rainfall as being incredibly powerful.

Throughout the book, the presence of rain symbolized a tragic event or occurrence that was about to happen or already had taken place. The gloom that was depicted solely based on the setting was what Ernest Hemingway thrived on. It was what gave this novel such strong character. Proof of its strength came when one was actually able to foreshadow hardship based on the turn of the weather conditions, which was indeed possible.