Throughout A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway shows how the harsh truths of reality always infiltrate and corrupt the distracting fantasies that characters create to make themselves feel better. In terms of war, Hemingway shows how ideals such as glory and honor quickly fade when one is confronted with the stark or absurd realities of battle—for instance, when Henry is maimed by a mortar shell while eating macaroni and cheese.
Many characters create escapist fantasies to make the war around them easier to bear. Catherine pretends that she and Henry are deeply in love to escape the pain of her fiancé's death in battle. Henry's fellow officers celebrate America's entry into the war by drinking in a hospital that is being cleared out to make room for casualties. Most tragically, Henry and Catherine retreat from the world to live an idealized private life in the mountains of Switzerland, only to have the specter of reality return when Catherine and her baby die during childbirth.
Reality vs. Fantasy ThemeTracker
Reality vs. Fantasy Quotes in A Farewell to Arms
"But I do love you."
"Please let's not lie when we don't have to."