Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Farewell to Arms Read-A-Long

A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway Read-A-Long-Week #3

I am participating in A Farewell to Arms read-a-long in conjunction with the World War I Reading challenge I am doing with the blog, War Through the Generations.  You can visit their website here:

It's Friday and I am a week behind on this read-a-long. UGH. I must face the facts and accept that I am perpetually behind lately.  June is just so busy this year and since I have written last I have turned another year older. 

Read:  Chapters 21-30
Pages 133-225

Beware that these discussions could contain spoilers.

1.  “The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one” is a statement made by Henry, and he and Catherine enter into a discourse about bravery.  Do you think either character is brave and do you think Catherine is right when she says the brave die more deaths but just don’t talk about it? Explain.

I think Catherine and Henry are both very brave.  They both volunteered of their own volition to participate in the war and that act alone makes them brave in my book.  They both see wounded people and work tirelessly to help the sick and dying.   

I do think Catherine is right when she states that the brave die more deaths but don't talk about it.  War is horrible and the brave and the cowardly die a little bit each day as they face uncertain challenges and death.  The constant state of stress alone must cause your soul to die a little bit everyday.   I think the world is made up of many brave people.  Brave people don't think what they are doing is brave, the think what they are doing is right and necessary for the greater good.

2. What do you think about Henry’s reaction to Catherine’s pregnancy announcement?

Catherine and Henry are weird.  I mean, who talks like that?  Their conversations make me uncomfortable because they are so odd.  I think, initially Henry is shocked by Catherine's pregnancy announcement and it renders him silent.    I think Catherine is happy to have a part of Henry growing inside her.  Frankly I am shocked they didn't get married right away before Henry left as was the norm.  Henry hasn't told a soul about it and he hasn't shared his personal thoughts with readers.  I wonder why?

3.  Why do you think Catherine suddenly feels like a whore rather than Henry’s wife?  What does that say about her character?

First of all I think Catherine is mentally unstable.  The death of her fiance, the war and the unstable relationship with Henry has taken its toll.  She feels like a whore because he bought a hotel room to sleep with her before he left and they didn't buy the room as man and wife.  The manager walked up to the room with them and he knew they weren't married which is probably why she felt like trash.  Henry is clueless as to why she felt like a whore.  Maybe she was trying to get a marriage proposal out of him and so he could make her an honest woman.  

4.  When Henry is debating the feeling of defeat with the priest and the possible end to the war, Henry says, “‘They were beaten to start with.  They were beaten when they took them from their farms and put them in the army.  That is why the peasant has wisdom, because he is defeated from the start.’”  How is this statement true or not true? 

I don't agree with the statement that the peasant is defeated from the start.  I do agree that the peasant has wisdom.  The wisdom of a peasant is different than the wisdom of a king or of the middle class.  The fighters of a war are typically uneducated, poor people because they have little options and war offers a steady wage and a chance at glory and making history.  Many are conscripted in the army against their will but I believe most will fight to stay alive with the hope to see their families and home again.  

5. What do you think about the way Hemingway describes the front? 

I enjoyed reading about the front and the retreat.  I would have liked a map included in the book so I could refer to the many places Hemingway mentions.  Hemingway does a good job of accurately describing the Italian retreat of the war.  

6. What do you think about the shift in the story from Henry’s therapy and his relationship with Catherine to the front and the retreat? 

I was so glad the book took a turn away from Henry and Catherine's relationship and went back to focusing on the war.  Although, I did wonder why Henry doesn't ruminate more on his relationship but maybe the stresses of the war and the bare act of survival, kick most of his thoughts of Catherine to the curb.

Next, I will be reading chapters 31-41 and completing the book.
Since I am behind on the posting schedule I will post as soon as I finish.