In Night and A Farewell to Arms, the reader follows the characters of Elie Wiesel and Ernest Hemingway through their personal struggles between love and war. In Night, Eliezer faces malnutrition, Nazis, and concentration camps, while Frederick Henry, in A Farewell to Arms, struggles with love, patriotism, and religion. Despite their differences, the journeys of these two young men are remarkably similar; they both are prisoners of war, they both lose the person they love most, and they both face a bleak and dismal fate.
Frederic and Eliezer are both prisoners of war but in different ways. Frederic has a strong emotional attachment o the war. “Dont talk about the war,” he says after abandoning the front, “it was over… but I did not have the feeling it was really over” (Hemingway 245). For Frederic the war captured his mind in a way that he cannot escape. Eliezer is also a POW but in a more concrete and physical way. Before being imprisoned, Eliezer is stripped of his clothes, his self-respect, and his identity, and he is forced into barracks. The barracks we had been made to go into were very long… The antechamber of Hell must look like this. So many crazed men, so many cries, so many bestial brutality” (Wiesel 32). It is only love that allowed Frederic and Eliezer to survive their prisons. Catherine Barkley is Fredericks true love. “I felt damned lonely and was glad when the train got to Stresa… I was expecting my wife… ” (Hemingway 243-244). This quote shows the physical and emotional yearning that Catherine inspires in Frederic. This desire for her is what helps him through the war.
Eliezers love, on the other hand, is directed towards his father. Eliezer feels that his father is his only possesion that the Nazis cannot take from him. “Ill watch over you and then you can watch over me. We wont let each other fall asleep. We will look after each other” (Wiesel 85). The loss of both Eliezers father and Frederics fiancée ones is what inevitably leads to a dismal future. The tragic fall of these two young characters is directly related to the toll their prisons place on them and the absence of the ones they love. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror a corpse gazed back at me” (Wiesel 109). As Eliezer looks at himself, he sees that he is a hollow boy. Fredrick also has nothing to live for at the end of A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway uses rain to symbolize death. Correspondingly, at the end of the novel, Frederick “… went out nd left the hospital and walked to the hotel in the rain” (Hemingway 332). Frederick is not physically dead but rather emotionally dead.
Throughout Elie Wiesles Night and Ernest Hemingways A Farewell to Arms similarities become apparent. In both, the main characters are semi-autobiographical. More importantly, both of the main characters, Eliezer and Frederic, become prisoners of war, experience the loss of a love one, and face a bleak future. Ultimately, by taking their respective main characters and showing how imprisonment and personal loss can lead to emptiness, Elie Wiesel and Ernest Hemingway that truly express the hardship of war.