Many novels use contrast images of the land or surroundings to contribute to the central meaning of the work. In Ernest Hemingways A Farewell to Arms the foil images of Italy and Switzerland help shape the theme of the book which is the cruelty of war and what it does to people. The descriptions of the two countries, Italy and Switzerland, are greatly different and represent two types of places. On one hand, Italy is a site of cruelty and death. Here is where all of the war and fighting takes place throughout the novel.
The front and plains in Italy are described to be where all the death and disaster happen to the armies and the volunteers. Henry and the other men even were wounded with not even being in battle. They were just eating some cheese and drinking some wine when they were bombed. Here many of the people lost hope and moral because of the death surrounding them. Rinaldi even told Henry that this war is killing me, I am very depressed by it. A major even told Henry It has been bad. You couldnt believe how bad its been.
Ive often thought you (Henry) were lucky to be hit when you were. This shows how death and the war affected everyone making them dejected and downhearted. It got so bad Henry even decided to escape from the Italian army and leave the front to escape to Switzerland. On the other hand, Switzerland is a place of peace and hope because no fighting took place here. Switzerland was neutral during the war so it was a perfect place to escape the cruelty of war. In this land of mountains is where the Priests homeland was.
The Priest symbolized morals and goodness, so that is why its a wonderful place for people to regain hope and confidence of survival. This is a good reason why Catherine and Henry decided to start their new life in the comfort of Switzerland. They knew there that them and the baby would be safe from the disasters related to the war. These contrast descriptions of the two countries and their landforms form one of the themes of the novel. The descriptions of the plains and the front in Italy demonstrate how cruel a war can be and how it affects all the people around it.
War breaks people down to become hopeless and depressed. While the descriptions of the mountains in Switzerland present a peaceful place to escape to harshness of war and regain an optimistic view of life. Hemingway used contrasting images of the surrounding lands to contribute one of the main themes of the novel. Italy symbolized death, disaster, and the brutality of a war, while Switzerland represented peace, hope, and the comfort of safety from war. These foiling contrasts demonstrate how cruel a war can become.