What does Hemingway mean by this line at the end of A Farewell to Arms?

“It was like saying goodbye to a statue”

1 Answer 1


The important context here is that Frederic is alone in a hospital room with the body of Catherine, his dead lover. Now we can understand the similie.

On a literal level, this means that Frederic's saying goodbye to Catherine was similar to saying goodbye to a statue. Statues cannot talk, they do not react or receive comfort from someone bidding them goodbye. Catherine is dead, thus she cannot react in any way to Frederic saying goodbye to her and her body. She is stiff, unmoving, unspeaking, like a statue.

On another level, this means that Catherine is figuratively a statue. Statues don't have souls or humanness, and Catherine's self is no longer there. She is dead, stiff and cooling, no life left.

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