A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Analysis of Part 3 (Chapters 10 - 12)

The juxtaposition of Rinaldi against the priest brings up many important contrasts. Rinaldi, in many ways, is a man of the flesh. He is concerned with the war and country, is consumed in eagerness for medals, and lusts for one-night stands. The priest is a man of the spirit. He does not see the patriotism or glory of the war, but instead its hopelessness. He does not find happiness in lust, but instead in selfless love. It is between these two ways of life that Henry must choose.

At one point, the priest chides Henry, saying that "even wounded you do not see it." Here, he refers to the futility of the war-how it is in the hands of a few people who simply want the war, and that the others are at their mercy. The war is indifferent to its participants, and Henry cannot see that.

The priest's tiredness is most likely due to the fact that he has lost some faith: "I try always to hope but sometimes I cannot." If the war is indifferent, if most people are at the mercy of others who wish to fight, then where is God? However, there is a sort of heroism in the priest because, despite knowing the war (and presumably life) is futile, he continues to "try always to hope." Unlike the priest, who has accepted his condition and dealt with it, Henry acts with detachment.

As a final bit of information, the priest attempts to convince Henry that happiness can only be obtained by selfless love, which the priest presumably has for God. His belief is largely an existential one. In a world where man always loses (i.e. dies), the end doesn't matter and consequently happiness is derived from the heroic struggle against that world. That heroism manifests itself best in the service of another.