Death is often represented by traditional symbols ranging from the color black to the common tombstone. Besides these icons, other signs can stand for mortality including rain. In, A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway associates rain with death many times. Although rain is not usually considered a symbol of death, the main character Fredric Henry discovers this natural occurrence is a personal theme he relates with death.
The first time Hemingway uses the connection between rain and death is during a march to the river. The group was climbing out of the embankment to cross the road, and suddenly three shots rang out, one bullet unfortunately hitting Amyo. Fredric thought to himself, “He looked very dead. It was raining” (Page 214). He does not yet see that the rain is always there during times of pain. Even after his love, Catherine Barley, had feared dying in the rain or dreaming of him dead in the rain, he still had no fear of the rain and the misfortune it possessed.
The next time we see the pain caused by the rain is late in the book. Even though the association between rain and suffering can already be inferred by the reader, Fredric has yet to see the connection. Maybe this was because of the arrival of his new baby. During the birth there are many complications and a cesarean section is needed to deliver the baby. “I could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light from the window. So that was it. The baby was dead”(Page 327). Now his son had been taken by the rain and nothing could be done. Now Fredric’s fear of the rain is revealed through anger displayed towards his new son for the pain his wife suffered. Still the rain does not cease.
The final act of the rain was the most devastating. Fredric had loved his wife above all things throughout the war. When their son had died during labor it left her weak. ”It was like saying good bye to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain”(Page 332). Just as he had walked out of Amyo’s and his son’s life, he walked out of his wife’s. All of these events occurred in the rain. Even when he walked out of the Italian Army it was all I the done while it was raining. Finally, after all of these terrible happenings Fredric’s fear of the rain causes him to speak to God. This is the first time he has spoken to God, throughout the entire book. This shows how his fear of the rain has brought him to the realization that rain means death.
The rain was always a constant theme in Fredric’s loss of family and friends in the book. The rain was used to set the mood of a situation and always foreshadowed a death. People often experience a state of depression by the dismal affects of a rainstorm. Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms effectively uses the rain as a symbol to link with death. The reader can understand to this association because of the many instances connecting rain and death throughout the story.