The Narrative Structure of the Novel A Farewell to Arms

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The novel A Farewell to Arms possesses the structure of a dramatic work. As is generally known, every drama is divided into five main parts or acts that are by-turn divided into scenes. Among them are: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement or resolution.

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The exposition is a part of the story that gives the background information about the events, participants and the setting of the work. The reader can receive the information about the protagonists of the story and the place where the action occurs.

A rising action is a number of events that gradually lead the reader to the point of major interest. This part of the story starts immediately after the introduction and tells about significant events that happen in the story. These events are considered to be the most important because they set the scene of the work and serve as the base for the next part of the story that is called the climax. The events of the rising action are built in the certain order to achieve the climax.

The climax is the highest peak of the story. It is its most intense period when the conflict should be resolved. It is the top of the story that describes the tension of events and chooses the most dramatic one.

The next element of the narration is the falling action. It goes after the climax when the conflict is already settled and shows the destiny of the main character and reveals the results of the story. Sometimes it may include a moment of suspense to show that the conflict can have another resolution.

The last part of the narration is denouement or resolution. It includes the events of the falling action and informs that the conflict came to its resolution, all the problems are solved and the narration comes to its ending.

According to the novel A Farewell to Arms, it also consists of five books that have from eight to twelve chapters. Every book is a part of the narrative structure. The first one sets the scene of the novel and acts as an introduction to the narrative. The narrator sets the exposition and describes the place where the events will happen. The action takes place in a small countryside based in Italy. Hemingway describes this picturesque scenery that is full of rich greenery and at the same time this beauty and silence are broken by the bomb blasts and shots. The narrator depicts victims, wounded people and much blood. This contrast between the peace in the natural surroundings and the perils of the war is combined to show that nature does not offer resistance to the war. The exposition also introduces us the main hero of the novel. It is an American, whose name is Frederic Henry. He is a driver of an ambulance in the armed forces of Italy. Frederic meets a British nurse Catherine Barkley, who serves as a volunteer in the war and his life changes because he falls in love with her. How he is torn between his job and his love.

The second book is the rising action of the novel. The actions start to develop when Henry and other soldiers rush to the attack. The fighting is violent and several soldiers are injured and even die. Henry also has a leg wound and is brought to the hospital where Catherine works. The reader does not know exactly whether Henry is alive because the author creates a suspicious moment. All the fears are in vain, he survived and now he can be close to his beloved woman. Nevertheless, when Frederic recovers, he is sent once again to fulfill his duties at the war front. The major event of this part is that Henry asks an Italian officer for help, but when he refuses to do it, Frederic kills him. The Italian army has to retreat, being unable to defeat the advancing army of the enemies. All these events lead to the climax.

The climax of the novel is the arrest of Henry. Italian officers accuse him and several other soldiers of the defeat of the Italian army and come to the conclusion that they should be killed. Before the sentence is executed Henry manages to escape. He jumps into the river while officers start shooting at him. Swimming in the river he understands that this war is not for him and it is his farewell to arms. Reaching the other bank of the river he remembers Catherine. Henry finds out that she lives in Stresa now and he rushes there to meet her. They spend much time in the hotel and do everyday activities.

The action starts falling when Frederic and Catherin move to Switzerland to escape from the war. They rent a boat to row across the lake. They reach their destination and live in a hotel in Montreux. They enjoy this peaceful place and are glad to be far from the war. Frederic and Catherin decide to get married and to have a child.

The resolution of the novel is extremely sad because Catherine dies while giving birth to the child. Henry had to pay a stiff price for living in peace because he lost his son and his wife.

To sum up, the paper shows how A Farewell to Arms follows the steps of narrative structure. All its essential elements: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement or resolution are introduced and described in this paper.

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