“I’m afraid of the rain.. because sometimes I see me dead in it”.
Since the dawn of christianity, rain has been used to symbolize renewal and rebirth through a form of natural baptism. Water supports life, and in many songs i embodies growth, life and the return of a joyful spring.
“Even in the darkness every color can be found
And every day of rain brings
to things growing in the ground”-Story of a Girl
“Rain, I don’t mind.
Shine, the world looks fine.”-Rain the Beatles
However, Hemingway twists this meaning, relating rain to death and despair, something that was begining to be hinted at in Les Mis’ A little Fall of Rain. Although, in Les Mis even though Eponine is dying this is the happiest moent of her entire life, muddling the two definitions.
The world of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms is a realistically depressing one. He states: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.” Each death and source of melancholy is accompanied with a “little fall of rain”. Rain is a source of fear for Catherine, who *spoiler alert!!!* eventually dies in childbirth for a still born baby.
“I don’t know, darling, I’ve always been afraid of the rain.”
“I like it.”
“I like to walk in it. But it’s very hard on loving.”
“I’ll love you always.”
“I’ll love you in the rain and in the snow and in the hail and—what else is there?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m sleepy.”
“Go to sleep, darling, and I’ll love you no matter how it is.”
“You’re not really afraid of the rain are you?”
“Not when I’m with you.”
“Why are you afraid of it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t make me.”
“All right. I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it.”
“And sometimes I see you dead in it.”
“That’s more likely.”
“No, it’s not darling. Because I can keep you safe. I know I can, But noone can help themselves…It’s all nonsense it’s only nonsense. I’m not afraid of the rain. I’m not afraid of the rain. Oh, Oh God I wish I wasn’t”
She was crying. I comforted her and she stopped crying.But outside it kept on raining”
It rains almost continuosly in the book, with a few scenes that offer a ray of light breaking through the looming storm clouds. While in a traditional sense, ice and new usually symbolizes danger and despair, Hemingway makes yet another role reversal: having snow symbolize hope. Snow surrounds the happy couple in the alps, where all seems safe and far away from the insanity of the outside world, the war, and the rain.
Even though Hemingway makes it painfully obvious from the beginig of the novel that rain symbolizes death (bringing with it deadly diseses such as chlorea), Henry seems to love the rain despite its constant presense surrounding death.
“‘It’s raining hard.’
‘And you’ll always love me, won’t you?’
‘And the rain won’t make any difference?’
‘That’s good. Because I’m afraid of the rain.’
‘Why?’ I was sleepy. Outside the rain was falling steadily.
‘I don’t know, darling. I’ve always been afraid of the rain.’
‘I like it.’
‘I like to walk in it. But it’s very hard on loving.’
‘I’ll love you always.’
‘I’ll love you in the rain and in the snow and in the hail and – what else is there?’
‘I don’t know. I guess I’m sleepy.’
‘Go to sleep darling, and I’ll love you no matter how it is.’”
Catherine’s perception of the rain is muddled, in her drems she has perfect clarity of its meaning, but while she is awake she sees it as only an obstacle between her beloved Henry and herself. Little does she know, rain bring sthe ultimate thing that would seperate them: death.
“But after I got them to leave and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn’t any good. 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.”