Essay topics for ‘A Farewell to Arms’ 2011

First essays take a number of hours to write. As you get to know the text you speed up. Slowly wean yourself away from the notes and text after doing about four essays. Move toward doing essays in one hour without any notes or text.

1 ‘To what extent is love an escape from the horrors of war in A Farewell to Arms?’ (2010)

2 ‘Although Frederic Henry retells the events many years later, there is still a strong sense of immediacy in the narration.’

How is this achieved? (2010)

1 ‘A Farewell to Arms’ is an anti-war novel. Discuss.

2 Catherine and Frederic are stoics. Do you agree?

3 How does the war shape the love story?

4 ‘Everything we do seems so innocent and simple. I can’t believe we do anything wrong,’ says Catherine in the hotel in Milan. (p138). Are Catherine and Fred innocent and simple people?

5 What is Hemingway trying to say about love and war in ‘A Farewell to Arms’?

6 The final sentences of the novel are profoundly bleak. Does the story suggest that life can be more than loss and despair?

7 How does Hemingway show the impact of war on a society?

8 ‘Both Catherine and Frederick are victims of the war.’ Discuss.

9 ‘Catherine’s light-hearted banter is a mask for a braver, more serious and more intelligent woman than she at first appears.’ Discuss.

10 ‘The love between Frederic and Catherine is a consequence of the war.’ Do you agree?

11 Why do so many people seem to love Frederic?

12 ‘A Farewell to Arms suggests that love can be a kind of delusion.’ Do you agree?

13 ‘War causes good people to behave in ways foreign to their upbringing and beliefs.’ Discuss.

14 How does Hemingway’s style draw the reader into the story?

15 ‘If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them, to break them, so of course it kills them.’ Does the novel suggest that there is no value in courage?

16 Is Frederic brave?

17 ‘A Farewell to Arms suggests that despite its pain there is a great deal of joy and pleasure to be found in life.’ Does it?

18 Is A Farewell to Arms a novel about love or a novel about war?

18 ‘It’s just a dirty trick,’ Catherine says before she dies. Does the book suggest that human existence is just a dirty trick?

19 ‘We’re both brave,’ I said. ‘And I’m very brave when I’ve had a drink.’ Does the novel suggest that both Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley are very brave?

20 The impact of ‘A Farewell to Arms’ is achieved as much through the way Hemingway tells the story as through the events themselves.

21 ‘A Farewell to Arms suggests that stoicism is courage.’ Discuss.

22 ‘Catherine is a stronger person than Frederic.’ Do you agree?

23 ‘It is through their love that Catherine and Frederic find the courage to overcome adversity. ‘ Do you agree?

24 ‘A Farewell to Arms suggests that not even love can overcome the cruelty of fate.’ Discuss.

25 ‘Despite the pessimism of A Farewell to Arms it is the simple goodness of other people that gives the story hope.’ Discuss.

26 ‘Frederic Henry is not interested in being a hero. But in many ways he is.’
Do you agree?

27 ‘Both Catherine and Frederic are tragic figures. Is one more tragic than the other?’

28 ‘In both love and war nothing is predictable.’ How does A Farewell to Arms suggest this?

29 ‘We learn much about Frederic and Catherine through their relationships with the minor characters.’ Discuss.

30 “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”
Is Catherine shown to be a stronger character than Frederic?

31 ‘Hemingway ends the novel in tragedy to demonstrate that we cannot escape our
tragic end, whatever choices we make.’
‘Does your reading of A Farewell to Arms support this view?’

CW 2/05/11