A Call To Arms 2


A Call To ArmsStyle And Tone Essay, Research Paper

“After a while I went out and left the

hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain” (332). This last line

of the novel gives an understanding of Ernest Hemingway’s style and tone.

The overall tone of the book is much different than that of The Sun Also

Rises. The characters in the book are propelled by outside forces, in this

case WWI, where the characters in The Sun Also Rises seemed to have no

direction. Frederick’s actions are determined by his position until he

deserts the army. Floating down the river with barely a hold on a piece

of wood his life, he abandons everything except Catherine and lets the

river take him to a new life that becomes increasing difficult to understand.

Nevertheless, Hemingway’s style and tone make A Farewell to Arms one of

the great American novels.

Critics usually describe Hemingway’s style

as simple, spare, and journalistic. These are all good words they all apply.

Perhaps because of his training as a newspaperman, Hemingway is a master

of the declarative, subject-verb-object sentence. His writing has been

likened to a boxer’s punches-combinations of lefts and rights coming at

us without pause. As illustrated on page 145 “She went down the hall. The

porter carried the sack. He knew what was in it,” one can see that Hemingway’s

style is to-the-point and easy to understand. The simplicity and the sensory

richness flow directly from Hemingway’s and his characters’ beliefs. The

punchy, vivid language has the immediacy of a news bulletin: these are

facts, Hemingway is telling us, and they can’t be ignored. And just as

Frederic Henry comes to distrust abstractions like “patriotism,” so does

Hemingway distrust them. Instead he seeks the concrete and the tangible.

A simple “good” becomes higher praise than another writer’s string of decorative


Hemingway’s style changes, too, when it

reflects his characters’ changing states of mind. Writing from Frederic

Henry’s point of view, he sometimes uses a modified stream-of-consciousness

technique, a method for spilling out on paper the inner thoughts of a character.

Usually Henry’s thoughts are choppy, staccato, but when he becomes drunk

the language does too, as in the passage on page 13, “I had gone to no

such place but to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled and

you needed to look at the wall to make it stop, 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.” The

rhythm, the repetition, have us reeling with Henry. In general, Hemingway’s

writing is descriptive yet effective in leaving much to the readers interpretation

and allowing a different image to form in each readers mind. The simple

sentences and incomplete descriptions frees your imagination and inspires

each person to develop their own bitter love story.

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