In A Farewell to Arms, how are Frederic, Henry, and Count Greffi alike, despite their age difference?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Chapter XXXV of the novel, Frederic Henry encounters Count Greffi for a second time and spends time with the old gentleman playing billiards. The conversation between Frederic and ninety-four-year-old Count Greffi is illuminating and reveals some similarities between them despite the great difference in their ages. They talk easily together, and neither Frederic nor the Count hesitates to share thoughts and feelings quite openly with each other.

Like Frederic, who has made his own "separate peace" with the war and deserted from the Italian army, the Count thinks the war is "stupid." Both men see war as never-ending. The Count explains that young nations win wars, after which they become older nations--implying that new young nations will then defeat them, a continual process. Earlier in the novel, Frederic had observed that "There is no finish to a war," implying that a war really never ends because it leads to the next one. For both Frederic and Count Greffi, war is a stupid exercise in never-ending violence.

As their conversation nears an end, they speak of religion. Neither man is devout in his religious beliefs. The Count says he "had expected to become devout" but that had not happened, despite his advanced years. Frederic observes, "I might become very devout" and says that his religious feeling "comes only at night." Neither Frederic nor Count Greffi dismisses the significance or need for religious faith, but neither man possesses it in his own life. Count Greffi asks Frederic to pray for him after his death, if ever Frederic should become devout, and even though Frederic's own religious feelings come to him only in darkness, he says that he will. Frederic and Count Greffi both seem to desire religious faith, even though it has eluded them.

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