Essay on Ernest Hemingway’s Life Compared to A Farewell to Arms

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Ernest Hemingway used his experiences from World War I to enhance the plot of A Farewell to Arms. Parallels can be drawn throughout the entire novel between Henry's and Hemingway's experiences. Both were Americans serving in the Italian army; both were wounded and went to Milan; both fell in love with a nurse. These many similarities, however, also contain slight differences. There is no real question that Hemingway based events in the novel off of his real experiences, but A Farewell to Arms is by no means an autobiography. The book does not focus on the experience of war. Instead, it is more focused on the after-effects. Minor changes to the events themselves make the novel unique, while the factual basis strengthens the plot with …show more content…
"Despite his injuries, Hemingway carried a wounded Italian soldier to safety and was injured again by machine-gun fire. For his bravery, he received the Silver Medal of Valor from the Italian government—one of the first Americans so honored." (Thomas).
In his book, Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration, Philip Young directly compared the literal wounds received by the two men by contrasting Hemingway’s autobiographical experiences in the war with a quote from A Farewell to Arms. "Hemingway could make himself walk, and he picked up the living but legless Italian and carried him back toward the trenches. On the way, however, an Austrian searchlight caught him in its beam and a heavy-caliber machine gun opened up on him, hitting him once in the foot and once in the knee (I 'leaned over and put my hand on my knee,' Lt. Henry said. 'My knee wasn't there. My hand went in and my knee was down on my shin.') When he got to the dressing station, the Italian was dead and Hemingway himself for a while considered past help. When he was finally attended to, 227 fragments of steel were taken from his right leg alone." Henry, like Hemingway, was wounded when he transported supplies by machine gun fire after they were hit by a mortar shell. Both tried to save one of their friends, and both got a medal for it. Both men also were wounded in the knee and foot. This particular aspect of the plot is most closely related to Hemingway's actual experiences. Though Henry

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