Saturday, July 20, 2019

Stream of Consciousness in Ernest Hemingways A Farewell to Arms :: Farewell Arms Essays

Stream of Consciousness in A Farewell to Arms      Ã‚  Ã‚   Many important American writers came to prominence during the Jazz Age, but their commonalities often stopped there. From lyrical to sparse, many different styles can be seen among these authors, such as those of Henry James, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway. One stylistic technique, stream of consciousness, was most associated with Joyce. Yet, Hemingway also used this technique with regularity and it is an important element in his war novel, A Farewell to Arms. This technique uses the interior monologue of a character to convey information, and thus the reader is allowed a more fluid picture of the true thoughts of the character, in this case, Lieutenant Frederick Henry. Also, the information contained in these stream of consciousness passages would not have been as effectively expressed in traditional prose style.    There are six specific passages in A Farewell to Arms that exemplify the stream of consciousness technique. Each of these is related to one of the themes of drunkenness and confusion, escape and fantasy, and disillusionment. These themes are presented in a progression, as Henry becomes more demoralized about his life and the war. The first passage comes early, as he relives the experiences of his weeks on leave. The Lieutenant has been drinking and his memories flow like the speech of an intoxicated person; continuing on from one subject to the next without regard for the listener. Of course, the reader is the only "listener" here, but there is a sense that Henry truly is lost in his own thoughts. His reeling thoughts attempt to summarize the previous few weeks in the following passage:    I had gone. . . to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled and you needed to look at the wall, nights in bed, drunk, when you knew that that was all there was, and the strange excitement of waking and not knowing who it was with you, and the world all unreal in the dark and so exciting that you must resume again unknowing and not caring in the night, sure that this was all and all and all and not caring (13).    This description is in direct contrast to a previous description of the cold, clear, scenic Abruzzi, Henry's alternative vacation spot, emphasizing his confusion as well as the sensory overload of the Cova.

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