Quicklet on Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms

by EmmaLee McCrickett

What's in the book?

Quicklets: Your reading sidekick!

    • About the Book
    • About the Author
    • Synopsis
    • Chapter-By-Chapter Commentary & Summary
    • Key Character List
    • Key Terms and Definitions
    • Major Themes and Symbols
    • Interesting Related Facts
    • Additional Reading



"I'll make it to Europe some way in spite of this optic. I can't let a show like this go on without getting into it." According to Literary Ambulance Drivers Hemingway wrote these words to sister in reference to the eye problem that kept him from enlisting in the general military during World War I.

He was determined to see the action through and sought out another way to get to the front and found it as an ambulance driver. He was one of many future writers who worked in the ambulance corps of The Great War, a new role introduced by the advent of automobile ambulances, and open to the educated and upper class.

Once there Hemingway was badly injured, as noted by the National Endowment for the Arts' Reader's Guide, and nursed by a woman named Agnes von Kurowsky, who was seven years older than him. He fell in love with her and asked her to marry him five months later, but she refused. These experiences served as a basis for the relationship between his main characters in A Farewell to Arms, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an ambulance driver for the Italians, and the nurse who cares for him after he is injured, Catherine Barkley.


EmmaLee has been writing since grade school, but professionally since 2009. She enjoys young adult novels, trampolines, and tea parties.


Lieutenant Frederic Henry is an American serving as an ambulance driver for the Italians on the Austro-Italian front during the World War I. He is based in a town called Gorizia where he rooms with an energetic surgeon, Rinaldi, and is friends with the unit’s priest. Rinaldi introduces him to a beautiful British nurse, Catherine Barkley, who has lost her fiance in the war. There is an immediate attraction between them.

Henry must go to the front to manage the other ambulance drivers during the next wave of battle. He sits with them in a trench eating pasta while waiting for the wounded to be brought in need of transfer. Shelling begins and Henry and his fellow drivers are hit in their trench. One man loses both his legs and quickly bleeds out. Henry is been badly injured in both legs. One knee appears to be out of place. He is attended to and placed in one of the ambulances. On the ride to the field hospital the man above Henry in the ambulance hemorrhages, bleeding down onto him.

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