Song Of Solomon Rain

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Of all the irony in the novel, the references to rain are the most powerful. With a plethora of occurrences number almost two hundred, rain is used in contrast to its archetypal properties of cleanliness, restoration, and life-giving (Foster 77-78). While rain and wind is used to generate “atmosphere and mood” when Henry and Barkley cross the lake into Switzerland, it is mostly used to prepare the reader to connect it with death (76; Hemmingway 264). In fact, the first mention of rain appears in the third paragraph of the entire novel. Here it strips the chestnut trees of their leaves and makes the “branches…bare and the trunks black” (4). It is clear that any prosperous or thriving time has since passed, and the clearest sign is the coming…show more content…
While looking at the trees, an observer may still have seen life in the leaves, much how an onlooker of the war might still see glory and hope. However, the rain washes the world of such falsehood, similar to the paradoxical usage of rain to cleanse Toni Morrison’s character Hagar of her illusions of grandeur in Song of Solomon (Foster 77). The cleansing rain that falls also causes much disarray in the mud it creates, with the “troops…muddy and wet in their capes,” being splashed by the vehicles of their commanding officers driving by them as they march (Hemmingway 4). The rain that falls from the sky becomes dirty mud when mixed with the world of men, the world of war. Hemmingway goes so far as to describe the entire country as “wet and brown and dead” with thin vineyards, representative of land devoid of the fruit of the vine, which could be a biblical reference itself (4). At the Last Supper, the fruit of the vine is not to be drunk until the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. Despite the rain, the vineyards have failed, and without any grapes to even make wine, this country is as far from the Kingdom of Heaven as Hemmingway…show more content…
This is another clear connection between the rain and death, but this advances the link even further, specifically foreshadowing Barkley’s death in the rain at the end of the novel. As stated, the text is brimming with rain-death allusions, including the battle just prior to the aforementioned retreat that lands Henry in a predicament with the battle police. With the night wind blowing, the rain and artillery bombardment meld together to form a single wall of death, destruction, and misfortune that forces the Italians back. It is as if the entire world, man and nature, is turned against them. While stuck out in the rain during the ensuing retreat, Henry wishes in a stream of consciousness that his “sweet love Catherine down might rain” from the sky (197). This is a dream that can never be realized, as Henry must wait to be reunited with his love and in the intervening time must be left disappointed, with only the deathly rain to comfort him. For when Catherine dies, not even her “statue”-like lifeless body can comfort him, only walking out into the rain, now ironically associated with death (332). It is confounding that Catherine and her child survive a retreat in war, a harrowing journey across the lake in the dead of night with a rain and windstorm pounding down, and finally a

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