A Farewell to Arms

Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
War Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Self vs. Duty Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Farewell to Arms, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon

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.

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Reality vs. Fantasy Quotes in A Farewell to Arms

Below you will find the important quotes in A Farewell to Arms related to the theme of Reality vs. Fantasy.
Chapter 3 Quotes
I had gone to no place where the roads were frozen and hard as iron, where it was clear cold and dry and the snow was dry and powdery and hare-tracks in the snow and the peasants took off their hats and called you Lord and there was good hunting. I had gone to no such place but to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled and you needed to look at the wall to make it stop, nights in bed, drunk, when you knew that that was all there was.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker)
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes
"You don't have to pretend you love me. That's over for the evening. Is there anything you'd like to talk about?"
"But I do love you."
"Please let's not lie when we don't have to."
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker), Catherine Barkley (speaker)
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes
I sat up straight and as I did so something inside my head moved like the weights on a doll's eyes and it hit me inside in back of my eyeballs. My legs felt warm and wet and my shoes were wet and warm inside. I knew that I was hit and leaned over and put my hand on my knee. My knee wasn't there.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker)
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes
"There, darling. Now you're all clean inside and out. Tell me. How many people have you ever loved?"
"Nobody."
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker), Catherine Barkley (speaker)
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes
"I'm afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it."
Related Characters: Catherine Barkley (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rain
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 27 Quotes
I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker)
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 29 Quotes
"I killed him. I never killed anybody in this war, and all my life I've wanted to kill a sergeant."
Related Characters: Bonello (speaker), The Sergeants
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 30 Quotes
The questioners had that beautiful detachment and devotion to stern justice of men dealing in death without being in any danger of it.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker)
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 32 Quotes
I had the paper but I did not read it because I did not want to read about the war. I was going to forget the war. I had made a separate peace.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker)
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

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The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker)
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 40 Quotes
We knew the baby was very close now and it gave us both a feeling as though something were hurrying us and we could not lose any time together.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker), Catherine Barkley
Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 41 Quotes
God please make her not die. I'll do anything you say if you don't let her die. You took the baby but don't let her die. That was all right but don't let her die. Please, please, dear God, don't let her die.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker), Catherine Barkley
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

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But after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the lights it wasn't any good. It was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.
Related Characters: Lieutenant Frederic Henry (speaker), Catherine Barkley
Related Symbols: Rain
Page Number: 320
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.