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Rain Symbolism in "A Farewell to Arms"

  • Date Submitted: 05/03/2011 12:12 AM
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“A Farewell to Arms”: The Symbolism of Rain

                                                        Trevor Owen
                                                        History 435-72
                                                    Professor Ken Rose
                                                      February 17, 2011

    The novels of Ernest Hemingway tell the stories of a variety of heroes and heroines.

However, one constant element that is a part of all the novels is nature.   Even though the

stories may take place in different settings, in all of them, the environment plays a major

role in the structure and plot of the story.   The environment, essentially, is a separate and

crucial character to each and every Hemingway tale.   This concept can be illustrated in

“The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “The Sun Also Rises,” “The Old Man and Sea,” and of

course, in “A Farewell to Arms.”   In “A Farewell to Arms,” Ernest Hemingway attempts

to tell the unvarnished truth about war; to present an honest, rather than a heroic, account

of combat, retreat, and the ways in which soldiers fill their time when they are not

fighting.   One of the ways Hemingway attempts to accomplish this goal is through the

symbolism of the character or element of nature; specifically, that of rain.   For instance,

weather is to this day a fundamental component of the war experience.   While

Hemingway depicts weather realistically in the plot of the story, he also uses it, as in the

case of rain, to convey death and destruction.

    From the beginning of the story until the very end, rain serves as a powerful symbol of

death and all the accompanying emotions of grief, pain and despair. As the rain pours

down on a beautiful day, it turns all that is joyful and hopeful into desolation.   From the

very first pages of the novel this is seen when Hemingway describes the rapid

progression of the seasons saying, “In the fall when the rains came...


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