Rain as a Symbol in Farewell to Arms

Read Summary

The use of rain in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms is not just for effect, as it actually has a significant meaning in the novel. Rain is used to express the deep reality and depression of the story, bringing the characters back down to earth and foreshadowing their fate. The rain destroys anything joyous or beautiful, turning happiness to depression. Hemingway uses rain as a symbol of death and destruction, with subtle hints throughout the book. Rain is a major symbol seen in almost every chapter and should not be overlooked for its significance.

Table of Content

The rain on a cold night is not a pleasant memory for most people. In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway used the weather not only for its dramatic effect, but also to convey meaning in the book. Rain is symbolic of the harsh reality and despair experienced by the characters, bringing them back to reality from their idyllic surroundings. It also foreshadows the bleak fate that awaits the characters in the novel. The rain seems to constantly persist in Frederic Henry’s story.

In many novels, a force often appears that destroys anything joyful or beautiful. This force can come without warning, turning the happiness of Frederic and Catherine into a sudden flood of sadness, spoiling any momentary pleasures they may have had. Before leaving, Frederic noticed a slight chance that the sun might break through the clouds, bringing a glimmer of hope. However, shortly after, the nurse delivered news to him that only reinforced his perception of misery – he could see nothing but rain and darkness through the window. After some time, I left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. ” (Hemingway, 332)

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Right after the deaths of Catherine and their child, the protagonist experienced immense sorrow and returned home in the rain to express his deep despair. The excerpt, “…and in the fall when the rains came the leaves all fell from the chestnut trees and the branches were bare and the trunks black with rain.” (Hemingway, 4), clearly indicates that both Frederic and Hemingway perceive rain as a symbol of death. Hemingway uses rain throughout the novel to represent the anguish felt by Frederic and Catherine, leaving them with only each other for solace. The rain also serves as a constant reminder of impending death or sadness in the narrative. Catherine confesses her fear of rain as she sees her own death reflected in it. Furthermore, on Frederic’s journey to the hotel, the fog covering the city transforms into rain, marking Catherine’s final night with him.

Furthermore, during Frederic’s journey to the city for Catherine’s childbirth, he comments, “In the night it started raining. It rained all morning and turned all the snow to slush…” (Hemingway, 306). This event serves as a foreshadowing of the tragic deaths of Catherine and the baby in the novel’s conclusion. Additionally, on the day when Frederic and the Italians retreat from Caporetto, it rains constantly throughout the whole day and night. One of his fellow drivers ominously remarks that night, “To-morrow maybe we drink rainwater,” hinting at their impending demise, which indeed occurs the following day (Hemingway, 237).

To sum up, rain in A Farewell to Arms functions as a foreshadowing element that brings negative implications to the narrative. The significance of rain is evident in its ability to connect the emotions of the characters to the events taking place in the story. It consistently hints at the presence of death or devastation, subtly weaving throughout the book and reflecting its correlation with depression and ruin experienced by Catherine and Frederic. Consequently, rain should not be dismissed as mere embellishment, as it serves as a significant symbol that appears in nearly every chapter.

Cite this page

Rain as a Symbol in Farewell to Arms. (2017, Mar 28). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront