A Farewell to Arms A symbol is an idea that represents another idea that has meaning behind it. In “A farewell to arms” by Hemingway, there are several symbols that help us understand the story better. Rain, river, and the officer’s stars are some that Hemingway uses to represent another idea. Rain is a recurrent symbol in the book that represents the idea of death and lost. At the beginning of the book Lt. Henry says “At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera.
But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army” (Hemingway 4). Lt. Henry is associating the rain with the seven thousands of soldiers that died. When Henry and Catherine are in the hospital she says that “she is afraid of the rain because she sees herself dead in it” (Hemingway 126). She says this because she is afraid that his love for Henry will not last and eventually their love will die. While rain represents death and lost in the other hand the river represents the opposite. River is another important symbol in “A farewell to arms”.
The river represents hope, a new beginning. When Lt. Henry is capture by the battle police for treachery he thinks to himself; “So far they had shot every one they had questioned [… ] I ducked down, pushed between two men, and ran for the river” (Hemingway 225). Lt. Henry jumps into the river because he wants to forget everything about the war. He leaves everything behind except Catherine to start a new life. Officers often wear stars to represent their status in the army and show how important they are. They represent competence and duty. In chapter 15 when Lt.
Henry is the hospital because of his injured leg a doctor tells him they can not operate till 3 months. Lt. Henry calls for another doctor, Dr. Valentini which agrees to operate on him. Lt Henry says “There was a star in a box on his sleeve because was a major” (Hemingway 100). Henry is knows his in good hands because of the star the doctor is wearing while the other doctors did not have stars on their sleeve. Another example is chapter 32 when Henry talks about removing his stars and uniform; “ I would like to have had the uniform off although I did not care much about the outward forms.
I had taken off the stars […] I was through. (Hemingway 232). Lt. Henry does this because he does not want to have anything related to war, since the stars and uniform represent his duty in war he takes it off to forget about the war. In “A Farewell to Arms” the symbols such as rain, river, and the officer’s stars help us understand the story better. Rain symbolizes death and lost while river symbolizes a new beginning, new life, and finally the stars the officers wear on their sleeve represent the competence and duty.