c) Diction In “A Farewell to Arms”, Hemingway uses a selective yet fairly simple form of diction to convey his tone towards the novel. This tone can best be described as one of sentiment and sensation. He chooses words that bring emotion to the text and effectively describe the feelings that are present in the mind of the narrator. For example, with the usage of phrases such as “orderly, wet, and sullen” (Hemingway 188), Hemingway is able to depict the sorrowful tone that is a result of the loneliness and destitution of war. He is also able to describe the sorrow that comes with the concept of love with the incorporation of word choice such as, “tears came down her plump cheeks.” In this case, the simple yet descriptive form of diction conveys the sorrow that the narrator and his wife feel at the moment. As a result of his discriminatory diction, Hemingway efficiently portrays the sentimental tone of the novel in a realistic way.
For example, the tiredness of the war is mirrored by the troops themselves. The narrator begins the second chapter with the comment that “the next year there were many victories.” That is all. It is blunt and detached, as if the victories no longer matter and nobody knows what they are fighting for. Later, a shell explodes in front of Henry and instead of reacting emotionally, he simply describes the smell of the explosion, one of which is “blasted clay and stone and freshly shattered flint.” (Hemingway 24)
Throughout “A Farewell to Arms”, Hemingway decides to utilize low and informal language, which serves to communicate the characters' emotions. The narrator is torn between two lives: a happy and fulfilling life with the woman he loves and a miserable life of serving his nation, and he feels excluded from the group of people around him as a result. The reader may understand how Henry yearns for a family life and what life was like during World War I based on Hemingway's use of ordinary, plain phrases and slang, particularly the human lack of eloquence during a battle owing to Hemingway's employment of basic, uncomplicated sentences. That is to say, the characters are able to express themselves utilizing minimal terminology while yet being able to make a statement, clearly seen in the dialogues by the characters in the work.