A Hurt Like No Other There are many different things that are repetitively evident throughout Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms. Such things as rain, alcohol, and food are talked about over and over as the novel progresses. At first glance, these reoccurring items have no real meaning, but after further research and complete dissection of the novel, there are hidden meanings behind each one. These meanings may vary from person to person because they are personal opinions, but the items which contain these meanings remain the same. The first of these items which offers more than first thought is the use of rain throughout the novel. In any novel that takes place over a long period of time, there is bound to be a stretch, or a few stretches, where it rains.
Rain is not first thought of as having hidden meaning, but in A Farewell To Arms, rain symbolizes many different things. The war goes back and forth throughout the novel, and neither side seems to get anywhere. The fighting stops one time in the novel due to the harsh winter weather. The days are very gloomy, and the weather is brutal. Lt.
Henry gets injured very badly, and things seem to go badly whenever the rain begins to linger overhead. The relationship between Frederick Henry and Catherine Barkley is evidently problem prone during rainy, misty periods. Sometimes Lt. Henry tries to escape these bad times through drinking alcohol. Lt. Henry and Rinaldi drink socially at the beginning of the novel.
Drinking is a way for the two to relax, and enjoy their days away from the front. As the novel goes on, alcohol becomes increasingly present at all times. Lt. Henry is drinking wine when he gets hit by the mortar shell, which seems sort of ironic. Tenente is having a glass of wine with his dinner when he is at the front, moments later he is injured very severely. After his operation, he begins to drink heavily to get away from all of his problems caused by the injury.
The drinking becomes so bad that, at one point in the novel, he get jaundice. When Lt. Henry returns to the front, he finds that Rinaldi has become a heavy drinker, and a womanizer. What started out as something social, became something very troublesome. As large a role as alcohol played in the novel, food also seemed to play a large part in the hidden meanings.
As I stated earlier, Lt. Henry was drinking wine with his dinner as he was hit by a mortar shell. The same ironic features that alcohol contains, pertain to food. The turning point in this novel is when tenente gets hurt. It is strange that something as far from war as eating dinner can have such a lasting effect on a novel. Whenever tenente leaves the hospital to go out, he always seems to end up eating something.
He meets many new friends when he goes out to eat, which makes his life more enjoyable. It’s funny that the same thing that hurts him, eating dinner, makes his life better. The same thing happens with Catherine, but in the opposite manner. The thing that makes his life better, her love, hurts him in the end, her death. Alcohol, food, and rain all have their own significant meanings. Each thing seems to hurt Lt.
Henry and everyone else in the novel, almost as much as it seems to help them, with the exception of rain. There are many things in life that people take for granted; things that occur each and every day, things that nobody takes the time out to see whether or not there is something more to it, things that have a profound effect on a person’s life. What doesn’t hurt you, can only make you stronger; except in this novel where whatever hurts you also helps you.