Any war takes a great toll on human life in terms of death, suffering, and loss. In You Went Away, it is the marriage of Graeme and Mi that is suffering due to infidelity on both of their parts and Graeme's heavy drinking and withdrawal from his family relationships. War, however, can also thrust an individual into a new relationship with someone that happens to be in the same place at the same time. In A Farewell to Arms Frederick Henry and Catherine meet during WWI.
His injury necessitates a long hospital stay during which time romance blooms. Later, after becoming disillusioned with the war, Frederick Henry deserts the army and he and Catherine flee to Switzerland where their union is strengthened. Both scenarios are the focus of this essay as the novels A Farewell to Arms and You Went Away are compared. Both novels are set during wartime and revolve around a couple's relationship which in one novel, the war strengthens, and in the other, is ripped apart. In A Farewell to Arms, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, a young American, who drives ambulances for the Italian army meets Catherine Barkley a young English nurse at a British hospital unit near the Italian front. "How do you do?" Miss Barkley said.
"You " re not an Italian are you?"Oh, no" (Hemingway 18). This was a meeting that, if not for the war, would not have taken place. The opposite effect is caused by war in You Went Away. In this novel the main characters, instead of being brought together due to the war, are being split apart. This novel's main character, Mi, is being separated from her husband, Graeme as he has enlisted in the airforce at the beginning of WWII. "I've joined the Air Force, Mattie.
Me, and all these fellows here - we " re going to win the war" (Findley 19). If it hadn't been for the war, Graeme would have had no reason to leave his family. In A Farewell to Arms, Henry and some other ambulance drivers are eating in a dugout where a bomb explodes over them. Henry's legs are badly wounded and he ends up in a hospital in Milan for treatment.
Catherine Henry transfers to the same hospital to be near Frederic. It is in Milan, that Henry realizes that he is in love with Catherine. "When I saw her I was in love with her. Everything turned over inside of me" (Hemingway 91). Over the next few months, while Frederic convalesces at the hospital in Milan, with Catherine as his attendant, their love for each other grows. It is Henry's involvement in the war that leads to his injury, hospitalization and months of recuperation with Catherine at his side.
The reality of the war, therefore, leads to a strengthening of Fredric and Catherine's relationship. The reality of war in You Went Away is quite different. Graeme leaves for training, not only physically but emotionally as well. "Graeme was constantly preoccupied - not with his Air Force duties, but with something, else, unnamed. Mi would sit watching him and he would say to her: don't stare at me - angry for some reason" (Findley 22). The stress and strain of being in the airforce leads Graeme to further isolate himself and cause more problems for himself by drinking too much.
Mi tells Ellen he will be dishonourable discharged from the armed forces. "It's never been so bad," she said. "There's a good chance they " ll let him go. Discharge him."Alcohol turns him into a madman," she said.
It always did."Thanks for the brand -new information," said Mi (Findley 31). Thus, being in the military has caused Graeme to drown his sorrows by drinking and withdraw from his family relationships, which begins to break down his marriage with Mi. Hemingway's hero, Frederic Henry, and Catherine seize another opportunity to be together when Henry, disillusioned with the Italian army decides to desert the army. He and Catherine flee to Switzerland and the months they spend together there create an even deeper bond between them. "Oh, darling, I want you so much I want to be you too."You are. We " re the same one" (Hemingway 299).
Catherine is pregnant and the couple plan to marry following the birth of their child. The war, a time of great turmoil and heartbreak, has brought two people who need each other together. Frederic and Catherine cling to each other forming a very strong bond and together face the world. In You Went Away, Graeme and Mi's bond of marriage is breaking apart.
The war is causing Graeme and Mi to live their lives apart. As the story continues to unfold, it becomes obvious that they will never be able to piece their marriage back together. Graeme becomes involved in an adulterous affair, which Mi becomes aware of and confides in Eloise. "There isn't any evidence he's playing around." Mi looked away. "Michael answer me."Her name is Sue Anne Howard" (Hemingway 89). Later, Mi, having given up on her marriage, also succumbs to the temptation of an affair with Ivan, Graeme's roommate.
"Mi put her hand on the back of Ivan's head and drew him down. Whatever happens now, I know what I am doing. Not adrift any more. Not lost, but found" (Findley 153). The separation of war causes Graeme and Mi to ignore their marriage vows and the bond which joins them.
These two novels both explore the relationships of a man and a woman with war as a backdrop. In A Farewell to Arms, war brings Frederic and Catherine together and keeps them together over many months, allowing time for their romance to blossom and their love to ripen. War creates the opposite effect in You Went Away. When Graeme is removed from the relationship, Mi and Graeme's marriage wilts and finally dies. War, therefore, strengthens Fredric and Catherine's relationship but, unfortunately, rips apart Graeme and Mi's marriage. War is a deadly game, which destroys everything in its path.
Relationships, more often than not, are ended through death and separation, as happened to Graeme and Mi. Other relationships are formed in such difficult times out of desire and survival, as is the case with Frederic and Catherine.