We are quickly approaching the announcement of the new winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2011. Although the date has not been set, the rest of the Nobel prizes will be distributed in the first week of October. In honor of this occasion, I have decided I will write a short series on previous Nobel laureates I like. To be honest, I am not familiar with many of the past winners, so this series will not be as long as it potentially could be.
The object of Henry's love is Catherine Barkley, a Scottish nurse who cares for him as he recovers from extensive knee surgery. I like the way that she doesn't fit into any stereotypes, for she is not just a beautiful, sweet girl who is swept away by the glamour of a soldier. Instead, Catherine is a woman who has already experienced great heartbreak and has clearly removed the wool from her eyes. She has a bit of spunk, though her craving for affection and love is very strong and real. The two fall in love, and I find the imperfections of their relationship very endearing and realistic.
However, Hemingway did not write a simple love story. A Farewell to Arms is primarily a story focused on the realism of war. The violence and deaths that occur seem utterly senseless. All of the characters indulge in different ways to escape the realities of war. Even the romance between Henry and Catherine is a kind of escapism, along with ever-present alcohol. A great disillusionment works its way over the story and seeps into readers' hearts as well. Although he entered battle voluntarily, Henry loses his motivation and yet is filled with guilt. The crumbling effect that starts to take over the storyline continues until the very end, making this a dark and memorable novel.
I think that the Nobel Prize commissioners must have appreciated Hemingway's directness and realism. I really enjoy his writing and the depth he pours into his characters. Unfortunately, Hemingway did not feel deserving of his award and eventually committed suicide. However, he left us with a number of phenomenal pieces of literature to read, and I am glad that he is forever marked in the halls of Classic Literature.