Literature is an autonomous artwork. It can be interpreted from its own part. The relation of parts of a literature work creates meaning. The meaning obtained from relation of parts in literary work is unreliable. A Farewell to Arms is a novel which showed that unreliability. That novel reveals ambiguous feeling between love and lust in Henry. This essay attempts to reveal the unreliability of meaning through the deconstructive analysis.
Keywords: love, lust, the deconstructive analysis
1. Preface Literature is born from human. Literature is a reflection of human’s conditions and thought. The social and cultural background of a work of literature is crucial to the understanding of a work of literature. Those thought create confusion in understanding a work of literature because a work of literature might be interpreted in different meaning.
A work of literature is a product. It has a structure and its own system. In other word, literature is an autonomous product. In order to understand an autonomous product, focus on its parts is highly needed. The connections among parts of a work of literature create a whole meaning. Eagleton (1982:94) stated that “with structures, and more particularly with examining the general laws by which they work.” that statement revealed that in a work of literature contains structures and system which organize its part.
A whole meaning (logocentric meaning) is formed by the connection of parts of work of literature. However, logocentic meaning is unreliable because a work of art is a work of language. A Farewell to Arms is an example of a work of art which has its conditions. That novel tells about Henry; an American ambulance driver whom work in Italian army. During the war, Henry falls in love with Catherine; a British nurse whom work in Italy. Henry and Catherine desert from the Italian war because of their love. They want to get away from the war in order to be together. At a glimpse, this novel tells about Henry’s powerful love towards Catherine but there are few part of this novel which doubted that interpretation. Due to that problem, the researcher would like to reveal Henry’s love using deconstructive analysis.
2. Review of Related Literature A novel is able to create many meanings. The structure in a novel opens multiple interpretations. Due to that reason, deconstruction analysis regards meaning as plural. The meaning in a novel is not static. Meaning is dynamic due to its connections with different part of a novel. Deconstructive analysis did not believe that there is a logocentric meaning.
A reliable definitive definition of deconstructive analysis is questionable. Wardoyo (2004:350) stated that defining deconstruction analysis is “futile”. Despite the confusion of its definitive definition, the deconstruction analysis is obviously a method of critical analysis. Johnson (1985:102) stated that “deconstruction denotes of particular kind of practice in reading and, thereby, a method of criticism and mode of analytical inquiry”.
The purpose of deconstructive analysis is to undermine the logical interpretation of a text. Culler (1982:86) stated that “to deconstruct a discourse is to show how it undermines the philosophy it asserts, or the hierarchical opposition on which it relies.” That purpose is not based on the cynical view of certain interpretation but based on the language’s ambiguity. language is not merely a carrier of certain meaning but language is a carrier of multiple meaning.
Deconstructive analysis challenge obvious meaning of language and reveals its hidden meaning. Johson (1980:5) stated that deconstructive analysis is “the carefull teasing out of warring forces of signification within the text itself.” that statement reveals that there are always warring forces in a text. That warring forces is unable to unify in a single signification. Due to that reason, the purpose of deconstructive analysis is to tease a certain interpretation.
Based on Johnson and Culler statement, deconstructive analysis is a method of critical analytical which aimed to tease and undermine a certain interpretation of a text. Wardoyo (2004:351) summarizes that view into three simple steps as follows: Step 1: Locate an oppositionStep 2: Determine which member is privilegeStep 3: Reverse and undermine the hierarchy|
Figure 1.1 Steps in Deconstructive Analysis
Figure 1.1 clearly defines the steps to deconstruct a text. It began by defining the opposition which inhabited within the text. The second step is finding the superior and inferior side within the opposition. The final step is to reverse the opposition; the inferior side became the superior and vice versa. Wardoyo steps in deconstructive analysis are highly suitable to analyze A Farewell to Arms.
3. Analysis Love is hard to understand. That situation is suitable to express Henry’s feeling when he met Catherine for the first time. Henry thought that Catherine was very beautiful. That impression is expressed in the quotation as follows: Miss Barkley was quite tall. She wore what it seemed to me to be a nurse’s uniform, was blonde and had a tawny skin and gray eyes. I thought she was very beautiful.
Henry impression toward Catherine is not enough to justify his action toward Rinaldi. Catherine was the woman whom Rinaldi after. Rinaldi was the best friend of Henry but Henry betrayed Rinaldi just because of Catherine. It inferred that Henry’s impression toward Catherine was not just beauty but also something called love.
Rinaldi’s love towards Catherine was deep. Rinaldi was willing to learn English because he wanted to get close to Catherine. Furthermore, Rinaldi would like to marry Catherine. Rinaldi’s love toward Catherine can be found as follows:
I was very dusty and dirty and went up to m y room to wash. Rinaldi was sitting in the bed with a copy of Hugo’s English Grammar. He was dressed, wore his black boots, and his hair shone.
Rinaldi: “I am now in love with Miss Barkley. I will take you to call. I will probably marry Miss Barkley.” Rinaldi: “I must make on Miss Barkley the impression of a man of sufficient wealth. You are my great and good friend and financial protector.”
Quotation above expressed Rinaldi’s love toward Catherine and Rinaldi and Henry’s friendship. Rinaldi and Henry was the brother at arm. Henry was willing to lend his money to Rinaldi but he was not willing to give Catherine to Rinaldi. It was obvious that Catherine is the precious thing in Henry’s life; that precious thing is love.
Henry was an atheist which means that he did not believe in God. Henry revealed that atheism in this quotation: The baby was dead. That was why the doctor looked so tired. But why had they acted the way they did in the room with him? They supposed he would come around and start breathing probably. I had no religion but I knew he ought to be baptized.
Quotation above is only an example of Henry’s spiritual life. There were countless number of examples which showed that Henry did not believe in God. Nevertheless, when Catherine was almost died, Henry prayed to the God to wish for Catherine’s life. That situation is in the quotation below:
I knew she was going to die and prayed that she would not. Don’t let her die. Oh, God, please don’t let her die. I’ll do anything for you if you won’t let her die. Dear God, don’t let her die. Please, please, please don’t let her die. God please make her not die. I’ll do anything you say if you don’t let her die. You took the baby but don’t let her die. That was alright but don’t let her die. Please, please, dear God, don’t let her die.
Quotation above is powerful because Henry (an atheist) was praying to the God that he didn’t believe. It was not only the sign of weakness and inconsistency but also a sign that he did not want to loose Catherine. That argument is the obvious prove that Henry was deeply in love with Catherine.
Henry felt numb when Catherine passed away. Catherine passed away when she delivered a baby. When Catherine passed away, Henry felt dead as well. That feeling is as follows: But after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn’t any good. It was like saying good-by to a statue. After awhile I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.
Before Catherine passed away, Catherine stated that rain is the symbol of dead. Catherine felt that whenever she saw rain, she saw Henry and herself died. That feeling can be found in this quotation: “All right, I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it.”
“No.” “And sometimes I see you dead in it.” “That’s more like likely.”
That feeling of rain was being used to express Henry’s feeling when Catherine passed away. Henry walked back to the hotel in the rain means that Henry love is died along with Catherine. It was stated above that Henry’s love is unconditional. Henry falls in love with Catherine at the first time he met her. That clear-cut statement was broken to pieces when it met with this quotation:
This was better than going every evening to the house for officers where the girls climbed all over you and put your cap on backward as a sign of affection between their trips upstairs with brother officer.
That quotation revealed Henry’s feeling toward Catherine. Henry was not in love with Catherine. Henry was merely considering Catherine as a better-looking whore. He said that going to the Catherine’s place is better than going to a whore house; which meant that Catherine is better than other whores. That argument revealed that Henry is fond of sex rather than money. That is why Henry was willing to lend Rinaldi money but unwilling to give his better-looking whore.
Henry’s love toward Catherine seems unquestionable. Henry, as an atheist, even prayed to God because of Catherine. It seems that Henry’s love is bigger than his own life. That conclusion can be broken due to this quotation: That night at the hotel, in our room with the long empty hall outside the door, a thick carpet on the floor of the room, outside the window the rain falling and in the room light and pleasant and cheerful, then the light out and it exciting with smooth sheets and the bed comfortable, feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal.
Quotation above revealed that Henry did pray to the God because of Catherine. Henry prayed to the God because he did not want to be lonely. Loneliness was Henry’s bigger fear that was why he prayed in order not to be lonely. Henry did not care whether she was Catherine or some one else who accompanied him. He only wanted not to be lonely. It can be inferred that Catherine is not a subject to Henry; she was only an object of pleasure.