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Posts tagged: Improv

A Farewell to Arms

I’ve never read Hemingway. I haven’t read a lot of things to be perfectly honest. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I started really reading on my own time, catching up with classics or even just topics that interested me. I had 6 months left in my education when I finally decided to take it in my own hands. Wah wah.

Anyways, I read A Farewell to Arms. I hadn’t even really read much on Hemingway before diving into this book. I knew his style was somewhat simple. He doesn’t use colons, semi-colons and the like. He’s clear and concise. 

The one thing I really love about Hemingway’s style, is that he puts you directly into the head of his characters. He writes what they’re thinking and he structures his sentences like thoughts. His characters repeat mantras to themselves, they question themselves, you get inside their heads and you understand how they think. That seems like a fairly simple choice to make, but it was somehow extraordinary. I think there’s something to this approach. It’s interesting to think how you could pull this off in a visual medium. 

I recently had an improv coach who told me to form an opinion on everything in a scene and react accordingly. You don’t have to necessarily say anything, but your body language will give the audience an in to your character’s psyche. It’s something to play with.

Aside from the style, the story was pretty straightforward. It’s a love story set in World War I. The protaganist Frederic Henry is an American lieutenant, driving for the Italian army. He hates the war. He hates fighting it, he hates being close to it, he only wants it to be over. He goes back and forth between being with his unit, and being at the hospital recovering with his lady, Nurse Barkley. They fall madly in love and she gets pregnant.

I foolishly thought towards the end of this book, that it might have a happy ending. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It falls apart. Not the ending, but the whole story. At the end, Frederic Henry is left walking to his hotel in the rain by himself. Starting from absolute scratch with nowhere to go. It kind of reminded me of the Coen brothers movie “A Serious Man.” This dude fights for his life and he’s knocked on his ass. Sometimes that’s just how it goes. War is a real thing in this book, something that just exists around Henry without him having a say in it. Catharine Barkley is great for Frederic, but that gets taken away too. 

The story didn’t work out, but that’s what makes the book stand out. Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense, but you roll with it and you try to survive.

What else are you going to do?