Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blog Topic #5: Personal Review

Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms is a tragic love story that takes place during World War I between an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and a beautiful English nurse. Through the course of the novel, Henry and Catherine discover their love for each other and how difficult it is to be away from the one you love for an extended period of time. When they are finally reunited once Henry leaves the war, they escape to Switzerland to fulfill their dream of a happy, peaceful life together. After several months in harmony, Catherine has her baby. Upon seeing the child, Henry has no feelings for his new son and later discovers that he had died before birth. When Henry finds out that Catherine has started hemorrhaging, he goes in to see her. He is with her when she dies, but then realizes that he has nothing to say to her once she is gone. This is significant because people are usually heartbroken when they lose someone that they love. He walks out of the hospital and back to his hotel as if nothing had ever happened. This shows that Henry’s love for Catherine, while it may have been real for a short period of time, was only temporary. Nothing seems to last forever.

I thought this novel was well written, and Hemingway’s distinctive style of writing helped to portray the story even more. His use of informal diction and simple syntax allows the reader to vicariously live through World War I. One of the overall themes, the relationship between love and pain, can be seen throughout the world today. A man falls in love with a woman, or vice versa, and eventually, through a terrible tragedy, one loses the other. This results in heartache, and they usually never fully move on. What I found to be unique about this story is that Henry does not feel anything after the death of Catherine. He attempts to say goodbye but realizes he has nothing to say and is forced to come to the realization that his love for Catherine did not last throughout the time that they spent together.

Blog Topic #4: Text Connections

The relationship between love and pain is present in everyday life all around the world. Love is something that everyone wants to feel and experience at some point in their life, and everyone wants to avoid pain as much as possible, but these two are eternally linked. The backdrop of this novel is the middle of a war zone, where anyone can die at any moment, breaking the hearts of the loved ones left behind. In the beginning of A Farewell to Arms, Catherine announces to Henry that she is in mourning for her dead fiancĂ©, but immediately after this announcement, she begins a game that is meant to seduce Henry. This shows that she wants to distance herself from the pain of her loss. The tragedy of this novel rests in the fact that their love can never more than temporary in this world. In today’s society, people risk it all. They want to be both romantic lovers and lovers of human kind. Even when they make mistakes and sometimes are not what they want to be, they keep on trying. People are willing to risk the love that they have worked so hard to receive, even with tragedy exploding all around them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blog Topic #3: Syntax

  • “Maybe she would pretend that I was her boy that was killed and we would go in the front door and the porter would take off his cap and I would stop at the concierge’s desk and ask for the key and she would stand by the elevator and then we would get in the elevator and it would go up very slowly clicking at all the floors and then our floor and the boy would open the door and stand there and she would step out and I would step out and we would walk down the hall and I would put the key in the door and open it and go in and then take down the telephone and ask them to send a bottle of Capri Bianca in a silver bucket full of ice against the pain coming down the corridor and the boy would knock and I would say leave it outside the door please. Because we would not wear any clothes because it was so hot and the window open and the swallows flying over the roofs of the houses and when it was dark afterward and you went to the window very small bats hunting over the houses and close down over the trees and we would drink the Capri and the door locked and it hot and only a sheet and the whole night and we would both love each other all night in the hot night in Milan” (Hemingway 37-38).
  • “We think. We read. We are not peasants. We are mechanics” (Hemingway 51).

Hemingway’s choice of syntax influences the style and tone of the novel. He uses short, staccato sentences to show simplicity, while also using long, run-on sentences to create a more elaborate setting. Hemingway is known for his bare, straightforward prose due to his few adjectives, plain words, frequent repetition, and simple sentences. His use of longer, more complex sentence structures contradicts the style of writing that he is known for while also paving the way to make his tone more apparent, one of disjuncture and alienation. Hemingway feels the need to reinforce the idea that everyone does not need to conform to society, and they all have choices to make when it comes it difficult decisions.

Blog Topic #2: Diction

  • “’Jesus Christ, ain’t this a goddam war?’” (Hemingway 35).
  • “’I saw the son of a bitch throw it’” (Hemingway 122).
  • “’It knocked me down and I thought I was dead all right but those damn potato mashers haven’t got anything in them’” (Hemingway 122).
  • “’To hell with you,’ said Rinaldi. ‘To hell with the whole damn business’” (Hemingway 174).
  • “’I don’t give a damn’” (Hemingway 174).
  • “’You can’t do it. You can’t do it. I say you can’t do it. You’re dry and you’re empty and there’s nothing else. There’s nothing else I tell you. Not a damned thing. I know, when I stop working’” (Hemingway 174).
  • “’Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘No danger of ¬---,’ using the vulgar word. ‘No place for ---‘” (Hemingway 196).
Hemingway’s choice of diction helps to determine the tone of the novel. He chooses to use low and informal diction throughout the duration of A Farewell to Arms, which helps to convey the emotions of the characters. The narrator is torn between two different lives, a pleasant life with the woman he loves and a solitary life of serving his country, and he feels like he is not part of the group of people surrounding him because of this. Hemingway’s use of common, simple words and slang allows the reader to imagine what life was like during World War I. Due to Hemingway’s use of simple, straightforward phrases and his distinctive writing style, the word choice also shows the human lack of eloquence during a war. The characters are able to express their opinions by using simple vocabulary but can still make a statement.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blog Topic #1: Rhetorical Stategies

  • Imagery: "They were seventy-sevens and came with a whishing rush of air, a hard bright burst and flash and then gray smoke that blew across the road. The carabinieri waved us to go on. Passing where the shells had landed I avoided the small broken places and smelled the high explosive and the smell of blasted clay and stone and freshly shattered flint" (Hemingway 24).
  • Analogy: "I knew I did not love Catherine Barkley nor had any idea of loving her. This was a game, like bridge, in which you said things instead of playing cards. Like bridge you had to pretend you were playing for money or playing some stakes. Nobody had mentioned what the stakes were. It was alright with me" (Hemingway 30-31).
  • Simile: "I sat up straight and as I did so something inside my head moved like the weights on a doll's eyes and it hit me inside in back of my eyeballs" (Hemingway 55).

Hemingway's use of rhetorical stategies affects his style of writing. His style is portrayed when he chooses to use extensive details to enable the narrator to appear initially detached from the life surrounding him. This also allows Hemingway to paint a picture of the uncompromising war efforts in the readers mind and allows them to live vicariously through the narrator's experiences of World War I. Hemingway's style of declaritive, terse prose is also used to produce a realistic narrative, moving away from intricate plots and descriptions. For example, the love between Henry and Catherine is elegant but not romanticized and becomes more of a function of existence rather than the primary focus of the novel.