Floating down the river with barely a hold on a piece of wood his life, he abandons everything except Catherine and lets the river take him to a new life that becomes increasing difficult to understand. Nevertheless, Hemingways style and tone make A Farewell to Arms one of the great American novels. Critics usually describe Hemingways style as simple, spare, and journalistic. These are all good words they all apply. Perhaps because of his training as a newspaperman, Hemingway is a master of the declarative, subject-verb-object sentence.
His writing has been likened to a boxers punches-combinations of lefts and rights coming at us without pause. As illustrated on page 145 She went down the hall. The porter carried the sack. He knew what was in it, one can see that Hemingways style is to-the-point and easy to understand. The simplicity and the sensory richness flow directly from Hemingways and his characters beliefs. The punchy, vivid language has the immediacy of a news bulletin: these are facts, Hemingway is telling us, and they cant be ignored.
And just as Frederic Henry comes to distrust abstractions like patriotism, so does Hemingway distrust them. Instead he seeks the concrete and the tangible. A simple good becomes higher praise than another writers string of decorative adjectives. Hemingways style changes, too, when it reflects his characters changing states of mind. Writing from Frederic Henrys point of view, he sometimes uses a modified stream-of-consciousness technique, a method for spilling out on paper the inner thoughts of a character.
Usually Henrys thoughts are choppy, staccato, but when he becomes drunk the language does too, as in the passage on page 13, I had gone to no such place but to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled and you needed to look at the wall to make it stop, nights in bed, drunk, when you knew that that was all there was, and the strange excitement of waking and not knowing who it was with you, and the world all unreal in the dark and so exciting that you must resume again unknowing and not caring in the night, sure that this was all and all and all and not caring.
The rhythm, the repetition, have us reeling with Henry. In general, Hemingways writing is descriptive yet effective in leaving much to the readers interpretation and allowing a different image to form in each readers mind. The simple sentences and incomplete descriptions frees your imagination and inspires each person to develop their own bitter love story.