Night and A Farewell to Arms: Eliezerand FredericIn Night and A Farewell to Arms, the readerfollows the characters of Elie Wiesel and Ernest Hemingway through theirpersonal struggles between love and war. In Night, Eliezer faces malnutrition,Nazis, and concentration camps, while Frederick Henry, in A Farewell toArms, struggles with love, patriotism, and religion.
Despite their differences,the journeys of these two young men are remarkably similar; they both areprisoners of war, they both lose the person they love most, and they bothface a bleak and dismal fate. Frederic and Eliezer are both prisonersof war but in different ways. Frederic has a strong emotional attachmentto the war. “Don’t talk about the war,” he says after abandoning the front,”it was over.
. . but I did not have the feeling it was really over” (Hemingway245). For Frederic the war captured his mind in a way that he cannot escape. Eliezer is also a POW but in a more concrete and physical way.
Before beingimprisoned, Eliezer is stripped of his clothes, his self-respect, and hisidentity, and he is forced into barracks. “The barracks we had been madeto go into were very long. . . The antechamber of Hell must look like this.
So many crazed men, so many cries, so many bestial brutality” (Wiesel 32). It is only love that allowed Frederic andEliezer to survive their prisons. Catherine Barkley is Frederick’s truelove. “I felt damned lonely and was glad when the train got to Stresa. .
. Iwas expecting my wife. . .
” (Hemingway 243-244). This quote shows the physicaland emotional yearning that Catherine inspires in Frederic. This desirefor her is what helps him through the war. Eliezer’s love, on the otherhand, is directed towards his father.
Eliezer feels that his father ishis only possesion that the Nazis cannot take from him. “I’ll watch overyou and then you can watch over me. We won’t let each other fall asleep. We will look after each other” (Wiesel 85). The loss of both Eliezer’sfather and Frederic’s fiancee ones is what inevitably leads to adismal future.
The tragic fall of these two young charactersis directly related to the toll their prisons place on them and the absenceof the ones they love. “I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From thedepths of the mirror a corpse gazed back at me” (Wiesel 109). As Eliezerlooks at himself, he sees that he is a hollow boy. Fredrick also has nothingto live for at the end of A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway uses rain to symbolizedeath.
Correspondingly, at the end of the novel, Frederick “. . . went outand left the hospital and walked to the hotel in the rain” (Hemingway 332). Frederick is not physically dead but rather emotionally dead. Throughout Elie Wiesle’s Night and ErnestHemingway’s A Farewell to Arms similarities become apparent.
In both, themain characters are semi-autobiographical. More importantly, both of themain characters, Eliezer and Frederic, become prisoners of war, experiencethe loss of a love one, and face a bleak future. Ultimately, by takingtheir respective main characters and showing how imprisonment and personalloss can lead to emptiness, Elie Wiesel and Ernest Hemingway that trulyexpress the hardship of war.