4. A Farewell to Arms (1929): Bildung, Tragedy, and the Rhetoric of Voice

  1. James Phelan

Published Online: 1 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch4

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

How to Cite

Phelan, J. (2013) A Farewell to Arms (1929): Bildung, Tragedy, and the Rhetoric of Voice, in Reading the American Novel 1920-2010, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch4

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2013
  2. Published Print: 10 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631230670

Online ISBN: 9781118512876

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Keywords:

  • A Farewell to Arms;
  • character narration;
  • Ernest Hemingway;
  • modernist tragedy;
  • novel

Summary

While Wharton's experience of World War I led her to write a novel depicting a more “innocent” age, and while F. Scott Fitzgerald focused on the aftermath of the War, Ernest Hemingway engages with it directly in A Farewell to Arms—and ultimately renders its dangers and destructions as a microcosm of the larger world. This chapter unpacks the working of Frederic's character narration as a way to get inside Hemingway's construction of his innovative modernist tragedy. In character narration, the two tellers (implied author and narrator) inevitably share the same style, but they do not have to share the same voice. The chapter adds another dimension to this analysis of the progression by expanding our focus beyond Frederic's voice to character, particularly Catherine's mimetic, thematic, and synthetic functions. Catherine's character has been a flashpoint for negative responses to the novel, especially but not exclusively by feminist critics.