Dust In Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms

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In Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, Dust comes up often near scenes of war and death. In our world, dust is found on objects that have been neglected, and have not been cared for. It accumulates over time, and does not go away without somebody taking the initiative to sweep or blow the dust away. Dust is composed mainly of dead materials such as dead skin and dead dust mites, making it the embodiment of death. Hemingway uses the appearance of dust in A Farewell to Arms to accompany scenes of destruction and decay. In the end of the book, a dog is found to be poking at a can with nothing in it, Lt. Henry finds. The can contained nothing but “coffee-grounds, dust and some dead flowers.”(279). All of the things inside of the can are used up. Coffee grounds serve no purpose after making coffee. Dead flowers were beautiful, but are now wilted and don’t do anything. The dust in the can is showing the death of Catherine’s baby in the scenes following that. The can was a symbol for Catherine’s womb, and the objects…show more content…
Henry fakes being shot, he has the opportunity to let go of his past life and begin a new one. With his new beginning, he smells “swept dust.”(211) This is odd because swept dust doesn’t really have a smell at all. It is just the smell of clean, unpolluted air. For the first time in a while, Henry is smelling the sweet scent of being away from death. He now has the chance to go and fulfil the life he wanted to spend with Catherine. However, sweeping dust away is only a temporary fix for a larger problem. Dust continuously collects, and it will eventually come back. Henry also escaped the dust when he left the dusty streets of the town to visit the horse races. For a minute he can forget about the war and all the death that comes with war. The horse races are a distraction from the war, but again, it is only temporary. He cannot escape the war forever, because he will have to go back to the front lines and fight again
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