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A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway: Home

About the Novel

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

The novel was first published in 1929.

A Farewell to Arms is considered a great novel of World War I. It is a complex novel dealing with the struggles of a war-torn young man called Frederic Henry. Though it is not autobiographical, there are a few details from Hemingway’s personal life that crept into the novel. For instance, Lieutenant Henry is with an ambulance unit, serving in the Italian Army, just as Hemingway did. He also falls in love with an English nurse when he is recuperating in a hospital, which is also what happened to Hemmingway. Apart from these factual details, however, others in the novel are entirely different from those in Hemingway’s life.

The novel deals with the two major themes of love and war, which are carefully interwoven with each other. In fact, the title itself suggests these two themes, with a pun on the word “Arms.” The hero, Henry, bids farewell to “Arms,” as in weapons, and also, when Catherine dies, to the loving “arms” of a human being.


The Structure of the Novel

A Note on the Structure of the Novel   

This novel is divided into five books, each having eight to twelve chapters. In this respect, the novel resembles a drama, which generally has five acts, further divided into scenes. Each book reveals a carefully controlled action and finely detailed love, for war and love are the two major themes discussed in this novel. When one theme emerges into the foreground, the other recedes into the background, but  the sequence of action runs parallel in both the themes, so the reader gets the feeling of having read a single major theme rather than two.

Book I has war in the foreground; Henry meets Catherine and participates in the battle, during which he is grievously wounded.

Book II has love in the foreground, for the wounded Henry is sent to a hospital, where he meets Catherine again and their love develops.

Book III also has war in the foreground; Henry recovers from his wound, returns to war, is caught up in a retreat, and deserts his post, a serious military offense.

Book IV has love in the foreground as Henry seeks Catherine, who is pregnant with his child.

Book V also has love in the foreground, though war looms ominously in the background, as can be seen when the lovers escape to a neutral territory, Switzerland, where Catherine dies of excessive internal hemorrhaging after a Cesarean operation.

It is also quite interesting to note the flow of action as the two themes of love and war develop. In the war, Henry goes through six stages: (1) a distant and casual participation, (2) a rather serious action (3) a knee-wound, (4) being sent to a hospital to recover, (5) going back to war and getting caught in a retreat, and (6)  deserting his military post. Likewise, Catherine goes through six stages: (1) an inconsequential flirtation (2) genuine love (3) her pregnancy, (4) her stay with Henry in a Villa in Switzerland, (5) arriving at a hospital for delivery, and (6)  having the C-section, which results in her death.

By the time the novel reaches its end, the two themes merge and the grimness of war is conveyed in no uncertain terms to the reader.

The novel contains a first person narrator. Love and war are seen through his eyes. Being told in this manner allows the reader to more easily understand him and sympathize with him when the situation arises.


Professor Dethloff gave your class a project that includes two assignments.

  1. Historical Analysis

This is a group presentation where you will explore and present on an aspect of the Great War (How WWI changed the rules of War or How WWI changed men and women). This is to help you "gain a background understanding for the novel."

      2.    Literary Analysis

You will write a literary analysis research paper on Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

Both parts of this project require you to conduct research. Review your assignments to understand your parameters. This will guide you in your research:

  • What types of information will you need?
  • What is the minimum number of resources that you can use?
  • Can you use the same resources in both assignments?

Keep a working bibliography of the sources you find as you conduct your research-keep all the bibliographic information in one place, like a Word document. This will help you when you create your Works Cited at the end of your presentation and paper.

Contact your instructor for clarifications about these assignments.

Library Information

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Please note that IDs, checkout, computer use, and printing services will end fifteen minutes before the library closes.

1. Why do I need a library card or ID?

Your LSCS ID serves as your library card and gives you easy access to the library's online resources from off-campus, the Fitness Center on-campus and may help you obtain student discounts from community stores and shops that offer one. For off-campus access to eBooks, articles, and streaming video from the library's databases, use the 14-digit barcode number on the back. You will also use your student ID to add cash to your Print Account so you can copy and print in the library.

2. How do I get an ID?

Go to the circulation desk of any Lone Star College library. You will need a photo ID and you will need to be registered as a student. Of course, we also provide IDs to faculty and staff!

If you're an online only student, complete the form at Make sure you use your LoneStar email address, and the library circulation staff will send you a barcode number to access the library's online resources!

3. How do I print or copy in the library?

You will need to set up a Print Account  and then add money to it:

  1. Signing in to any print release station to set up your print account.
  2. Adding funds:
    • Use your LSCS ID (issued since June of 2015) to add  exact cash at an Add Value station. (Need a new ID? see #1).
    • OR, go to MyPrintCenter and select the Add Funds link to add a minimum of $5 using your debit or credit card or PayPal account. Note: PayPal funds may take a little longer to show up in your account. You will find a link to MyPrintCenter under the Quicklinks in your MyLoneStar portal.
    • Still have a print card from the old system? Ask a librarian to transfer any left-over funds to your new Print Account!

4. Does the library have group or individual study rooms?

LSC-Kingwood Library does not have rooms that can be reserved; instead, we've set up group study areas at the front of the library and quiet study areas at the back of the library. Sound does travel in our library, so if your group needs to be more active or you just want to socialize, try other spaces around campus - the PAC and Student Conference Center (SCC) are good places to start.

A writing tutor is available to help you in the Library.

Monday & Friday 10:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m.
Tuesday 12:30 - 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This is a drop-in support service for any writing assignment. Designed for students with a few specific questions about their assignments.

Check with the Learning Center to find out where and when tutoring for math and other subjects is available.


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