As quoted, “If they killed men as they did this fall, the Allies would be cooked in another year. He said we were all cooked, but we were all right if we did not know it. We were all cooked. The thing was not to recognize it. The last country to realize they were cooked would win the war.” (Hemingway). Warfare has always been a part of history throughout the years. However, the aftermath of the war is a topic often left untouched by society. The first world war had changed the youth of the 20th century, being put into a category of illusion and influenced their way of thinking. In the book, WWI had internal effects on people such as post-traumatic stress disorder (also known as PTSD), societal culture, and how the war helped people understand why thing’s in life happen.
In Earnest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms, men involved in the battles were hurting inside and out, some more than others. Those affected in WWI had some sort of psychological decline, classified as “shell shock”. Doctors described shell shock as having a dysfunctional nervous system, a high sense of irritability, traumatic dreams, and specific reactions to noises. The book shows situations of confusion, and mental struggles, proving that when a man is involved with war, there is a constant threat of injury, death, adaptation, and pain. An example shown in the book would be when Henry is having pasta with other Italian ambulance drivers when they are hit by shellings, causing an image of injury and death that traumatized Fredric.
WWI had a big influence on the societal culture of the infamous roaring twenties, causing domestic effects. Hemingway referred to the youth as The Lost Generation”, meaning that the veterans, survivors, and society had different experiences as the war progressed. The era is described to be full of drinking, partying, going out, emptying their pockets, mentally harming people in a way that they became delusional. Men were seen to have lost their masculinity, while the aftermath of the war made people want a much simpler time. As for Fredric and Catherine, the delusional thought of raising a child and holding major responsibilities was worse, as Fredric had no maturity over the concept of love. Fredric’s idea of love wasn’t the same as Catherine’s, as the society had more of a free-will way of thinking. The 20’s culture was seen as immature by the older generations, causing tension within the era.
Within the book, WWI determined how those involved in the war understood and processed the outcomes. This era was a blueprint for the after-war society to look back at while it progressed, including the want to advance as a society that was delusional and immature by the elders. As shown in Hemingway’s book, there was an understanding that the troubled youth involved internally or externally in the war defined the generations after while the war progressed, and while the war ended. The end of the war defined the fact that as always, the world keeps spinning and societal views will decline or accept, which Fredric realized his splitting with Catherine Berkley as a result of maternal death– pregnancy was a result of love, and her death was a result of people loving each other. Henry and the Priest’s perspectives of love were different, but Fredric came to understand love caused Catherine and the baby’s death. Hemingway’s philosophy indeed showed how the war had affected the decade in terms of how both people had their mannerisms and ways of seeing things in life such as serving, aiding, loving, and leaving the warfare in Italy.
In understanding, not only did Earnest Hemingway’s “A farewell to arms” define the effects of war on people and society itself, but he defined the universe’s symbolism for war: life and death. Although the book went over Fredric’s life story as an ambulance driver for in the Italian force during WWI, the book’s perspective here was observed into seeing how war takes a psychological, physical, and emotional toll on those serving in the war, how the post-war society influenced and semi-justified the way of Fredric’s thinking, and how Fredric’s views towards the end of the war made him change the way he analyzed aftermath realization and understandings of why things in life happen. Hemingway not only put his war experiences in a form of a book, but he described the life events the war can have on people, whether many soldiers had diagnosed with shell shock, how the war affected the culture of the twenties, and how the aftermath of the war made Fredric realize why things in life happen.
- Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner, 1957.
- Harvard Health Publishing. “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-a-to-z.
- Polakovic, Gary. “How Did WWI Reshape the Modern World?” USC News, 9 Nov. 2018, news.usc.edu/151487/impact-of-world-war-i-shaping-the-modern-world/.
- “Popular Culture During WWI.” Remembering WWI, rememberingwwi.villanova.edu/popular-culture/.