Amanda Ramirez’s Reading Questions for Thursday, 2/24

Quick note: MAJOR spoilers ahead, early viewers beware! You have been warned!

Question 1

In chapter 34, when Frederic and Catherine are staying at the hotel together, Frederic remarks to himself:

“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

Do you think that we could see this quote as a possible allusion to/foreshadowing of Catherine’s soon-to-be fate? Was death in a “special hurry” to meet Catherine, as she is regarded as being among the ranks of “the very good and the very gentle and the very brave” by Frederic? Why or why not?

Question 2

We have spoken fairly in-depth about our views on the symbolism of rain and water throughout this story. The theme quite actually does not stop until the very end of the last chapter where it is forced to do so upon the closing of the last sentence. The last line of chapter 41 reads as follows:

“After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”

In the context of Frederic leaving the hospital after the deaths of both Catherine and their son, and taking into consideration some of the ways in which we suppose the rain is meant to reflect his emotional state, do you view the rain he walks out into to act more as a cleansing force for him or as a sign of his despair? Or, do you see it as being of other significance? In any instance, why?

Question 3

As the second appendix of the novel states, Hemingway wrote 47 different endings to A Farewell to Arms. Although some are more complete than others, each one offers a different take on the end direction of the novel. At the canonical conclusion of Frederic Henry’s story as we know it, do you feel that the ending lived up to your expectations? Additionally, do you feel as if Hemingway should have gone with one of his several other endings for Frederic’s story instead? If so, which one(s) do you find to be a more suitable ending? Do you feel that your chosen alternative ending(s) would do the story better justice? How?

Tristan Barber’s Reading Questions for February 22nd: A Farewell to Arms – Book Three (Pages 160-233)

Question 1

In Bonnie Akkerman’s reading questions for Book One in A Farewell to Arms, we were asked about the symbolism behind Hemingway’s use of rain. Two books later, we find that almost the entirety of Book Three is spent in the rain, ramping up as the characters face greater and greater danger, culminating in the near-drowning of Frederic himself.

“It rained all night. You knew it rained down that rained. Look at it. Christ, that my love were in my arms and I in my bed again. That my love Catherine. That my sweet love Catherine down might rain. Blow her again to me. Well, we were in it. Every one was caught in it and the small rain would not quiet it.”

A Farewell to Arms pg. 172 (roughly halfway into Chapter 28)

Now that we have this expanded context, has your opinion on rain as a motif changed at all? What does the motif mean for Frederic after he secretly boards the train back home, and how does this compare or contrast with Catherine’s extreme reaction to the rain earlier in the novel? Does the river factor into this, and if so, how?

Question 2:

Frederic’s injury and the death of those around him in the beginning of the novel are the only time we’ve seen characters die by enemy hands so far. This early violence serves as a plot device to deliver Frederic to the hospital. In Book Three, in extreme contrast, all of the deaths are inflicted by friendly fire – either by accident (as may be the case with Aymo) or intentionally (as with Frederic’s slaying of the sergeant and the border guards’ slaying of the retreating officers).

“‘I order you to halt,’ I called. They went a little faster. I opened up my holster, took the pistol, aimed at the one who had talked the most, and fired. I missed and they both started to run. I shot three times and dropped one. The other went through the hedge and was out of sight.”

A Farewell to Arms pg. 177 (the beginning of Chapter 29)

“He made the sign of a cross. The officers spoke together. One wrote something on a pad of paper. ‘Abandoned his troops, ordered to be shot,’ he said. The carabinieri took the lieutenant-colonel to the river bank. He walked in the rain, an old man with his hat off, a carabinieri on either side. I did not watch them shoot but I heard the shots.”

A Farewell to Arms pg. 192 (near the end of Chapter 30)

Why is Hemingway creating such a stark contrast between the forms of death in the novel? How do you compare Frederic’s violence with the border guards, and how do they justify it? Is there a difference?

Question 3:

With the introduction of the two sisters picked up in the convoy, we see the first civilian experience of the frontline. Their behavior is entirely unlike any other of the characters within the novel – where the servicemembers have accepted the war and are quite resigned, the sisters are fearful and quiet, especially towards the other men. Unlike the antisemitic horse race character, this does not appear to be a fruitless inclusion.

“‘Sorella?’ I asked and pointed at the other girl. She nodded her head and smiled. ‘All right,’ I said and patted her knee. I felt her stiffen away when I touched her. The sister never looked up. She looked perhaps a year younger. Aymo put his hand on the elder girl’s thigh and she pushed it away. He laughed at her. ‘Good man,’ he pointed to himself. ‘Good man,’ he pointed at me. ‘Don’t you worry.'”

A Farewell to Arms pg. 170 (near the beginning of Chapter 28)

The two girls are only involved in the novel for a short time, but their presence leaves a lasting impact on the reader – why is that? What was Hemingway trying to portray with their inclusion, and how do they relate to the other civilians in the story? What are the class and gender ramifications between them and the servicemembers, especially with Frederic who as a male officer and American, holds considerable privilege?

Abby Algeier’s Reading Questions on Hemingway Part III for 2/22

  1. We talked in class a little today about symbolism of rain and the relationship between Frederic and Catherine. In Book 3/Part III, Frederic is back on the front. In chapter 28, the army retreats to the city of Udine and experiences start-and-stop traffic (something we still deal with). On pages 171-172, Frederic lost himself in a day dream where he says “blow, blow ye western wind” and asks for the rain to bring Catherine to him, then having a “conversation” with her. What do you make of his longing for Catherine — is he tired of the front/wartime situation already, does the rain make him think and worry about her, etc.?
  2. The carabinieri were collecting, questioning, and shooting officers who had crossed the bridge because they believed that any officer was a German in disguise. Piani and Frederic encountered some Brigata di Pace soldiers before this. Compare the attititudes of the carabinieri and the Peace Brigade to killing officers: “‘The war won’t go on,’ a soldier said. ‘We’re going home. The war is over (p. 189).'” and “‘Down with the officer! Viva la Pace (p. 190)!'” vs. “‘It is you and such as you that have let the barbarians onto the sacred soil of the fatherland (p. 193).'” and “‘It is because of treachery such as yours that we have lost the fruits of victory (p. 193).'” Do either/both/neither propagate or inhibit the war?
  3. “Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation (p. 200).” Considering the paragraph before talking about lying with guns and Frederic’s frustration over the carbinieri, as well as sections in the novel previously, does flowing/moving water symbolize something now for him as it does Catherine?