Emotional and Psychological Conflict in Earnest Hemmingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”
A Farewell to Arms is a compelling love story written by Earnest Hemmingway. It represents the life of a soldier, Frederick Henry, a lieutenant in charge of ambulance drivers in World War I. During this time, Frederick undergoes a variety of changes. These changes cause him to experience conflict in various aspects of his life. In this scenario, it is represented by two different external forces, which Frederick must analyze and resolve the one to follow. This was not an easy task in an era where war and suffering ruled people’s lives. It was difficult for a soldier to make choices that would affect his life. Consequently, he faces a major conflict in his life, which is affected by other conflicts.
In Frederick’s case, the main conflict is between his desire to be with Catherine Barkley, his love, and his responsibility to serve in the Italian army. The book portrays Frederick as a lost soul continuously looking for order. Although Frederick disagrees with the war, he fights because he wants to fulfill the order the army has instilled in him. Nevertheless, he knows that the war is immoral and chaotic. It has transformed him into an unfeeling man who does not care about the soldiers’ pain. This issue is the first source of conflict in Frederick’s life.
In the beginning, Frederick faces a lot of emotional conflicts with himself. He constantly drinks and visits prostitutes because he is unsettled and discontent with the lack of order in his life. This act forces him to befriend a priest since he admires the values which give the latter this order. In other words, the absence of order forces the main character to take actions that would offer him this order. But it is Catherine’s appearance in his life that transforms it. He becomes emotionally dedicated to the relationship, which forces him to re-examine his desire to serve in the army. This – relationship adds value, a sense of commitment, and belonging to his life. This new order is different from the one they experienced in the army, which leads him to develop a new issue.
However, the new order Frederick obtains due to this relationship leads to psychological conflicts. In particular. he begins to see chaos and disorder in the Italian army. So, the man decides to leave the army because he no longer finds pleasure in the practice he considers chaotic. As he deserts the army, he experiences a turning point in his life’s struggles. He soon realizes that Catherine is his life’s source of order and value. This forces him to start a new life with her and their future child. Nevertheless, this issue changes when Catherine dies after she delivers her baby. As it is, Frederick loses his wife and child and only now realizes that he cannot base his desire for order or fulfillment on another person. He believes people will always alienate him. Consequently, he returns to his original lifestyle, but this time he will discover order based on his ideas.
To sum up, the conflict in the novel is centered around Frederick’s desire to be with Catherine, on the one hand, and his wish to serve in the Italian army, on the other hand. Besides, this issue is affected by his emotional conflict to sustain a relationship built on love and commitment, where he finds the order he seeks. Catherine’s love makes him realize that the army is chaotic and disorderly, leading to psychological conflict. Despite this new revelation, he changes his mind when Catherine and his child die. He realizes that true order should come from within; therefore, he chooses to revert to his original life.