Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Frederic Henry, the protagonist in A Farewell to Arms, is a young American in Italy serving, as Hemingway did, as an ambulance driver during World War I. He meets Catherine Barkly, newly arrived with a group of British nurses who are to set up a hospital near the front. Frederic likes Catherine, whom he visits as often as he can between ambulance trips to evacuate the wounded.
Catherine, who has recently lost her fiancé in combat, is vulnerable. Probably she feels more emotion for Frederic than he feels for her. He is about to leave for the front, where an assault is being mounted. She gives him a Saint Anthony medal, but it does not assure him the protection she hopes it will. A mortar shell explodes above Frederic’s dugout, and he is wounded, much as Hemingway himself had been. He is evacuated to a hospital in Milan.
Frederic is not the perfect patient. He keeps wine under his bed and drinks as much of it as he can get away with. By the time Catherine comes to the hospital to see him, it is he who is vulnerable, and he finds that he is in love with her. She stays with him through the surgery that his wounds necessitate; he has a happy recuperation, which Catherine nurses him through. They find restaurants that are off Milan’s beaten path and take carriage rides into the surrounding countryside. Catherine often comes to Frederic’s hospital room at night. He already knows that she is pregnant from a hotel-room encounter before...
(The entire section is 893 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Lieutenant Frederic Henry is a young American attached to an Italian ambulance unit on the Italian front. An offensive is soon to begin, and when Henry returns to the front from leave, he learns from his friend, Lieutenant Rinaldi, that a group of British nurses arrived in his absence to set up a British hospital unit. Rinaldi introduces him to Nurse Catherine Barkley. Between ambulance trips to evacuation posts at the front, Henry calls on Miss Barkley. He likes the frank young English girl in a casual sort of way, but he is not in love with her. Before he leaves for the front to stand by for an attack, she gives him a St. Anthony medal.
At the front, as Henry and some Italian ambulance drivers are eating in a dugout, an Austrian projectile explodes over them. Henry, badly wounded in the legs, is taken to a field hospital. Later, he is moved to a hospital in Milan. Before the doctor is able to see Henry in Milan, the nurse prohibits his drinking wine, but he bribes a porter to bring him a supply that he keeps hidden behind his bed. Catherine comes to the hospital, and Henry knows that he is in love with her. The doctors tell Henry that he will have to lie in bed six months before they can operate on his knee. Henry insists on seeing another doctor, who says that the operation can be performed the next day. Meanwhile, Catherine manages to be with Henry constantly.
After his operation, Henry convalesces in Milan with Catherine as his attendant....
(The entire section is 1089 words.)
Hemingway once referred to A Farewell to Arms as his version of Romeo and Juliet. Like Shakespeare’s play, the novel is a tale of tragic romance between an American Lieutenant, Frederic Henry, and a British army nurse, Catherine Barkley, that unfolds along the Italian front during World War I. Although The Sun Also Rises is comprised of three “books” of unequal length, the division serves very little dramatic purpose. By contrast, Hemingway’s second masterpiece is divided into five books that are analogous to the five acts of Shakespearean tragedy.
A Farewell to Arms is told in retrospect by its main male character, Second Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American attached to an Italian ambulance unit stationed in the town of Gorizia near the battlefront with the Austrians. Frederic is a “normally” dissolute soldier; off duty, he drinks in the local taverns and frequents the town's brothels with his friend Lieutenant Rinaldi, a good-looking Italian surgeon, both of whom are chastised by a Catholic priest. When Henry returns to the front from one of these binges, he is told by Rinaldi that a unit of British nurses has been stationed at a field hospital nearby and that one of them, Catherine Barkley, has captured his fancy.
Rinaldi introduces Frederic to Catherine. She finds it odd that he is an American who is effectively in the Italian army. He learns that Catherine’s fiancée has already been killed in the war. At this stage in their relationship, while he certainly finds Catherine to be attractive, Frederic is engaged in a casual romantic game: when he tries to kiss her for the first time and she slaps him, this is merely an expected countermove in his mind. Taking the wounded from the frontlines to the rear, Frederic sees Catherine on occasion. She gives him a St. Anthony’s medal. Frederic is badly wounded in his legs during an Austrian artillery attack and sent to a field hospital where he is visited by Rinaldi and the Priest.
In Book Two, Frederic is transferred to a hospital in Milan where he is visited by Catherine, and she manages to have herself reassigned there to be by his side. Frederic is first told that he will have to wait six months before an operation can be performed on his legs, but when he asks for a second opinion, he is immediately scheduled for surgery. In the wake of his brush with death,...
(The entire section is 1222 words.)
A Farewell to Arms opens in Italy during the First World War. The novel’s main character, Frederic Henry, is a young American serving as a second lieutenant in the Italian Army. He is attached to a unit in Gorizia, in which he works as an ambulance driver. In addition to Frederic, the reader is introduced to two other characters: first a priest, who Frederic’s friends enjoy baiting and teasing; and second Rinaldi, a good-looking Italian surgeon and a friend of Frederic’s. He shares with Frederic the typical soldier’s lifestyle of heavy drinking and frequent visits to the local brothels. When Frederic returns from a leave, Rinaldi tells him that a group of British nurses have arrived in the area to set up a hospital for the wounded. Rinaldi declares that he is in love with a nurse by the name of Catherine Barkley.
Rinaldi introduces Frederic Henry to Catherine Barkley, who is described as a tall, beautiful woman with long blonde hair. She finds it odd that Frederic is an American in the Italian Army. Frederic learns that Catherine had a fiance who was killed earlier in the war. He is very much attracted to her and would like to become romantically involved with her. Although Catherine responds to his first attempt to kiss her by slapping him, they gradually become more and more interested in each other. When Frederic has to take his ambulance back to the front, Catherine gives him her St. Anthony medal...
(The entire section is 1470 words.)
Chapter 1 Summary
Lieutenant Frederic Henry (as yet unnamed) is the first-person narrator describing his experiences in the First World War as an American volunteer in the ambulance corps in the Italian army. It is late summer, and Henry and the other volunteers are living in a house in a small village on the Italian border. Below is a small, dry riverbed. As the troops move by, they raise up clouds of dust that cover everything. When the troops have passed, all that’s left is the bare road and the fallen leaves covered white with the dust. The plains, however, are rich with crops, portraying the fruitfulness of the countryside. Above them are the mountains, the Italian Alps where the fighting is. They are bare and brown as autumn approaches. In the nighttime, Henry sees flashes of artillery as the army battles for supremacy of the area. He observes that it is almost like summer lightning, but the night is cool and there is no feeling that a storm is coming (at least from the clouds).
In the middle of the night, Henry can hear the sound of the troops marching past, with guns pulled by tractors. Although it is the first modern, mechanized war, mules are used to carry boxes of ammunition while the men ride on motorized troop transports. Guns are also drawn by tractors, which are covered by canvas and branches as a means of camouflage. To the north is a mountain where there is also fighting. That mountain, however, is lost to the enemy.
As the dry, late summer changes to fall, the rains turn the roads into a mass of mud that covers everything. Leaves are stripped from the trees, leaving the tree-dotted plains blank and bare. The men, carrying ammunition in front of them under their capes, look like expectant mothers about to give birth any minute. As the small, gray motor cars pass, they splatter more mud than do the camions (a French word for trucks). Henry occasionally sees a small man seated between two taller generals, with only the top of his cap and his narrow back showing. He realizes it is the King of Italy, who is at that time living in Udine (a town in northeastern Italy, the site of the headquarters of the Italian High Command), going to the front to see how things are going (they are going badly). When winter sets in, cholera breaks out. Henry says that in the end “only” seven thousand soldiers die of the disease.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
After another year of war, the Italian army is winning more battles. The troops have captured the mountain across the river, and Henry moves along with them to the town of Gorizia. The fighting is less than one mile away. It is August, and the small town goes on with its life as if the war were far away. Henry is grateful that the Austrians (the opposing army) evidently intend to preserve the town as much as possible so that they can come back to it later, after the war. Although the people keep up their daily existence, the signs of the fighting are all around—shell-marks on the iron bridge, a smashed tunnel by the river, and rubble from bombed-out houses. Yet there are trees around the square, and the king passes through in his motor car for all the residents to see.
Up on the mountain, however, the trees have been shorn off by the cannon shot. One day at the end of fall, Henry strolls up into the shattered forest on the mountainside, when a cloud passes over. Soon it begins to snow and then to blow. Snow quickly covers everything.
Henry goes back down into the town to a bordello that is frequently visited by the army officers. He sees a friend and joins him for a few glasses of wine. Their conversation centers on the future course of the war; both agree that the fighting is over for the year. After the winter is over, the other mountains must be taken. But for now there is no fighting. Henry’s friend sees the priest assigned to their outfit passing outside the bordello. He signals him to come in, but the priest shakes his head.
At the evening mess, talk turns to the priest. He is young and shy. The captain pokes fun at him, stating that he saw the priest at the bordello with five girls. The priest blushes and denies it. The captain insists, and the other officers are amused at the priest’s discomfort. The priest accepts it all as a joke. The major remarks that the Pope wants the Austrians to win, that he is suspected of contributing large amounts of money to the enemy. A lieutenant asks if he has read Black Pig, which has shaken his faith for its detailed description of the lurid activities of immoral priests. The young priest says it is a vile book and no one should read it. The major insists that all thinking men are atheists.
The talk turns again to the cessation of fighting for the winter. The major suggests that Henry should go on leave. This starts a train of suggestions of...
(The entire section is 513 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
Henry spends the winter travelling around Italy. When he returns in the spring, he finds that the company still lives in the same town and in the same quarters. All is green now, and there are even some signs of green on the mangled mountain slopes. There are now more hospitals, along with more British men and women. Henry wanders the streets and finally comes back to the make-shift hospital where he and his comrades are housed. He goes to his room and finds his roommate, Lieutenant Rinaldi, asleep in bed. Rinaldi, a surgeon, greets Henry warmly when he awakens. He asks about Henry’s adventures. When Henry rattles off a list of towns he visited, Rinaldi complains that he sounds like a train schedule. Rinaldi asks where Henry met “her,” assuming there was a young lady somewhere along the adventure. He says that there are beautiful girls now in Gorizia, especially the English girls. Rinaldi announces that he is now in love with a Miss Barkley, whom he will probably marry.
Henry asks about the hospital work since he’s been gone. Rinaldi states that it is mostly small illnesses, discomforts, and diseases, with very few war wounds other than self-inflicted ones. But the war is scheduled to start the next week, so it will all start up again. He asks Henry if he thinks he should marry Miss Barkley after the war is over. Henry’s disinterested reply is “absolutely.”
As Henry washes up, Rinaldi tries to borrow fifty lire from him because he wants to make Miss Barkley believe that he is a man of “sufficient wealth.” Henry simply tells him to go to hell. In the mess hall that evening, Henry sits next to the priest, who is disappointed and hurt that Henry did not visit his family in Abruzzi. He had told them that Henry was coming, so they had prepared to receive him. Henry feels disappointed in himself and says, “We did not do the things we wanted to do.” As they talk amidst the buzz of conversation from the other officers, Henry reflects that he avoided any place where the winter lay heavy. He stayed near cafés and hotels, occasionally waking up with someone he did not remember. He does not share any of this with the priest, however, and the two of them are still friends despite the priest's disappointment. The captain once again begins tormenting the priest, first teasing him about girls and then alleging that he wants the Austrians to win (as he had said the pope wanted them to). The major tells the captain...
(The entire section is 458 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
The next morning, Henry awakes to the sounds of the battery practicing in the garden below. He is grateful that they are no bigger. He goes down to the truck shed, where ten cars are lined up. Henry is in charge of keeping them in shape. Some of the mechanics are out working in the yard. Henry asks if the Austrians ever shell the battery, but it seems that they are protected by a small hill. Aside from the fact that one of the trucks is “no good,” all is going well. Henry is bothered by the fact that, evidently, it makes no difference if he is there to look after things or not. All has gone well in his long absence. He had thought that the cars would be dirty and not functioning from constant use. But since there has been no fighting, the trucks are clean and in good shape. Because there is nothing for him to do, Henry visits the posts up in the mountains, returning to town by late afternoon.
The fact that everything has gone well in his absence continues to bother him. In fact, it has seemed to run better without him there to oversee the work. He is confident that the offensive will start again soon, the troops planning to attack across the river and up into the mountains. Henry is in charge of the posts during the attack. He realizes this is not a significant assignment, and his dismisses it as one of those things that give a false feeling of soldiering.
Henry returns to the hospital and cleans up. Rinaldi asks him to go with him to see Miss Barkley. At first Henry refuses, but eventually agrees. After a couple of drinks of grappa (a type of brandy) to fortify them, the two men head off to the British hospital in a large villa. Miss Barkley is in the garden with another nurse, Helen Ferguson. Miss Barkley finds it odd that Henry, an American, has joined the Italian army. She is more confused when he confesses that he does not know the reason he joined. She opens up to him, telling that her fiancé was killed in the Somme last year. They had been engaged for eight years. Miss Barkley had refused to marry him before he joined up and went off to war, feeling that the separation would be hard on him. Now she feels guilty that she did not give him the satisfaction of being married before he died. If she had known that he would die, she says, she would have done anything he wanted. Miss Barkley and Henry observe Rinaldi talking to Miss Ferguson. Miss Barkley frets that it seems that the war will never end. She feels that...
(The entire section is 544 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
The following day, Lieutenant Henry goes to the British hospital to see Miss Barkley again, only to be told by the head nurse that she is working and cannot receive visitors. The head nurse asks Henry why he joined the Italian army instead of the British one. Henry's reason is that he was in Italy and spoke Italian. The head nurse says that she is trying to learn Italian but has not made much progress in two months, though Henry tells her it can be learned in two weeks. She tells him he may come back to see Miss Barkley after seven that evening but not to bring any Italians with him.
Henry makes the rounds of posts along the battle front. Beginning at the bridgehead at Plava, where the offensive is soon to begin, he examines places of concern for getting ambulances in and out of the war zone in the future. A few shells fall near where he is. He drives back to town and goes to the British hospital to see Miss Barkley.
At the villa where the British have set up their medical center, Henry runs across Miss Barkley with Miss Ferguson, who soon leaves the other two alone. Henry asks Miss Barkley if she is a nurse, but she is simply a Volunteer Air Detachment (V.A.D.), which is a short cut to being a nurse on the war front. She explains that the Italians did not want women so near the front, so they are all required to be on their very best behavior. Henry requests that they drop the topic of war, but Miss Barkley says that there is no place to drop it. Henry takes her arm and tries to draw her closer. She resists. When Henry tries to kiss her, she slaps him on the nose. Although he is angry at this rebuff, he insists that she did the right thing. She apologizes and then lets him kiss her. She still resists a deeper kiss, but Henry is forceful. She begs him to be nice to her because they are going to have a strange life.
Henry returns to his own hospital. Rinaldi, who is reading in bed by candlelight, asks if he is making progress with Miss Barkley. Henry replies that they are friends. He avoids further conversation on the topic, knocks over Rinaldi’s candle, and goes to bed. Rinaldi relights his candle and goes back to reading.
(The entire section is 410 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Lieutenant Henry has been visiting the military posts along the front for two days. Since it is late when he returns to Gorizia, he does not visit Catherine Barkley until the next evening. He does not find her in the garden, so he asks the orderly to call her down. While he waits, Henry looks around the elaborate villa. The marble busts remind him of a cemetery. He is uncomfortable in his chair because of the pistol he is required to wear. He has tried firing it, but he has found that it has a powerful kick back that prevents him from actually hitting anything. He is content to carry it simply to fulfill the law.
When Miss Barkley comes down, Henry suggests that they go out into the garden, ostensibly because it is cooler but in actuality because it is more private. Miss Barkley chides him for not sending her a note that he would be gone so long. After they kiss, Miss Barkley repeatedly asks him if he loves her. She wants to verify that he had previously said that he loved her, which he says he did though he is lying. She affirms her love for him, stating that it has been awful in his absence. She begs him not to go away again. He kisses her again, thinking that she must be a little crazy. He realizes that he does not really love her and that he has no intention of ever loving her. It is all a game played in wartime.
The two of them sit on the bench. Catherine will only let him hold her hand now. She admits that it is all a game and that she knows he does not really love her, though she loves him. She has asked him to call her Catherine instead of Miss Barkley, but she admits that it is funny that he never says it the same way twice. She pronounces him a “very good boy.” Henry states that this is exactly what the priest said.
Catherine makes Lieutenant Henry promise that he will come to see her again. He does not have to say that he loves her. She is over that necessity now. Henry tries to kiss her again, but she refuses on the basis that she is too tired. He is insistent, so they kiss and she leaves. As Henry leaves, he notices the flashes of artillery up in the mountains. He stops by the Villa Rossa (a brothel). He sees that there is a lot of action going on inside, but he does not go in. As he gets dressed for bed, Rinaldi comes in and notices that he is puzzled. He says that he has been at the Villa Rossa, finding it “edifying.” He is glad he did not become “involved with the British” since he...
(The entire section is 482 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Lieutenant Henry makes a visit to the first mountain post, where the wounded are sorted by nationality and sent to their respective hospitals. He sees a regiment go by, hot and sweating, obviously fatigued from the march. The common soldiers are not as well outfitted as the officers are. There are stragglers who cannot keep up with their platoons. Henry approaches one soldier, whom he thinks has a wounded leg. Instead, the soldier has a hernia and says that he lost his truss. Henry offers to take him back to his regiment for medical attention, but the soldier states that the officers will say he lost his truss on purpose. Henry learns that the soldier has been in the United States, in Pittsburgh. He now thinks the war is “rotten.” He is afraid the captain doctor will discover that he did indeed lose the truss intentionally so that he would not be sent back to the front. If he is returned to his regiment, he will undergo an operation to fix his hernia and then be sent back, something he desperately does not want to happen. Henry offers to take him to a different hospital if he stays on the road, falls down, and pretends to bump his head. The soldier agrees as Henry goes on to deliver the wounded soldiers in his ambulance to hospitals. When he returns, he sees that the soldier with the hernia had done what he asked but is being picked up by another ambulance, most likely to be returned to his own outfit and thus, eventually, to the front.
When Henry returns to his rooms, he decides to send postcards back home to let them know that he is well. He does not feel like writing an entire letter, and he feels the postcards will serve the purpose. He wishes the war were over. He believes that the French army is about through. The Austrians keep holding out, and there seems to be no headway for either side. He fantasizes that Catherine Barkley would pretend that he is her dead fiancé, and the two would go up to a hotel room and make love.
He decides to eat at the mess hall first, but the others drag him into to more drinking that he had wanted. Rocca, one of the officers, tells a story of a corrupt priest. The company priest listens patiently with little comment. It is late, and Henry struggles to stand up to go see Catherine. Rinaldi warns him that he had better not see her in his semi-drunk condition, but he gives Henry some coffee beans to chew to cover the alcohol on his breath.
When Henry arrives at the British...
(The entire section is 498 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
The next day Henry hears that there is to be an attack up the river. He is to take four cars up there in anticipation of wounded to be transported down to the hospitals in town. As they pass the villa where the British hospital is housed, Henry asks the driver to stop. He goes in and asks to see Catherine Barkley. Informed that she is on duty, he asks if he may see her for just a minute. An orderly goes to get her. When she arrives, Henry asks if she is better, since she was unwell then night before when he tried to visit her. She tells him that she must have been stricken by the heat but has improved now.
Henry tells Catherine that he has to leave, as there is to be a show up above Plava. He discounts the seriousness of it, but Catherine is visibly concerned and asks him if he will be back. He tells her that he plans on returning the next day. She takes off a Saint Anthony medal from her neck and gives it to him. He asks if she is Catholic. She is not but finds the Saint Anthony medal “useful.” He says good-bye, but Catherine tells him it is not good-bye and bids him to be careful. She refuses his request to kiss her, and he leaves. He opens up the case holding the medal. The driver recognizes it, stating that he has one as well. When Henry puts it in his pocket, the driver tells him to wear it around his neck, which he does. Henry says that after he was wounded, the medal disappeared, probably taken by someone at the medical station where the wounded are taken before being transported to a hospital.
The convoy of ambulances climbs up the mountains. Henry enjoys the view as they pass the foothills by the river and up to the heights. They pass a mule train driven by men wearing red fezzes. The road is empty below. As the convoy climbs up to the mountaintops, Henry sees two more mountain ranges beyond. A little higher, he sees another, then another. There are mountain ranges spread out as far as he can see. Below are the river and the train track. It is nearly dark when they drive down to the main road by the river that will take them to their destination.
(The entire section is 403 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
As the convoy comes down the mountain, they drive through a matting-covered tunnel to protect them from the sight of the Austrians across the river. They go to a brickyard where they will wait for incoming wounded soldiers. In the dugout there, Henry meets a major and other officers who predict that they will suffer a barrage of shells. Henry goes in search of some food for the ambulance drivers because they will not have a chance to eat once the fighting starts. He talks with some of the mechanics, who speak of how they hate the war. There is no victory in winning a war, they say, and they tell Henry of some of the atrocities. They feel guilty talking negatively to the American, but they feel they can trust Henry.
In the night, Henry can see searchlights in the sky. There is news that the attack has been pushed forward an hour, now back an hour. Henry still searches for some food. At last he is given a piece of cheese, which he takes back to the dugout and shares it with the others, who have some pasta to go with it.
Suddenly Henry hears a loud roar and feels himself floating out of himself. He hears screaming and crying. When he regains his sense of reality, he sees that Passini, one of the other ambulance drivers, has had his legs blown off. Henry tries to stop the bleeding but Passini dies before he is able to do so. As he sits up, he is suddenly aware of intense pain in his legs. He looks down and sees that his knee is not where it belongs but down in his shin. People come to carry him to the ambulances. He informs them that Passini is dead. The drivers drop him twice before they can get him into the ambulance. He tells them to take care of the more seriously wounded before him.
When the ambulances get down to the dressing station, a British doctor examines Henry. He sees superficial wounds on one leg but massive wounds on the other. He tells the Italians that Henry is the son of Woodrow Wilson (President of the United States at the time of World War I), then tells them that he is the son of the American ambassador. The doctor takes special care of him, though he asks questions to make sure that the wounds are not self-inflicted. It is determined that he also has a fractured skull. As they drive back to town, Henry feels something dripping on him. He realizes that the patient in the bunk above him is bleeding. He informs the drivers, but they say that they cannot stop until they get down the mountain. The...
(The entire section is 466 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Henry is taken to a field hospital. It is hot and infested with flies. His legs itch, and he is unable to scratch them. The orderly pours mineral water over his dressings to cool him off. In the morning he is taken into another room to have his dressings renewed and his bed clothes changed.
Rinaldi comes to visit Henry; he is still wearing surgical gloves. He is very solicitous and brings Henry a bottle of cognac. He tells Henry that he will most likely be awarded a medal, at least a bronze one. If he can prove that he did something heroic, it will be increased to a silver medal. Rinaldi asks him if he did anything heroic to get wounded. Henry says he did not, that he was blown up while he was eating cheese. Rinaldi tells him there is a report that he carried several people on his back, though one of the doctors said that this would be impossible with his wound. Henry denies that he carried anyone. Rinaldi asks if it is true that he refused medical treatment until others were treated before him. Henry says he did so, but not very firmly. Rinaldi is sure that he can get him a silver medal.
Henry asks if the military operation was successful. Rinaldi states that it was; a thousand prisoners of war were taken. He tells Henry of an operation he performed in which he removed three meters of small intestines and saved the patient. He says he will write it up for a medical journal if Henry will translate it from Italian to English. He opens the bottle of cognac and the two men drink. He says that perhaps Henry will get an English medal as well, but Henry says the English don’t give out medals that easily.
Henry asks Rinaldi if he has seen Miss Barkley. Rinaldi promises to bring her there to the field hospital. Henry asks how the village of Gorizia is and if the girls (in the brothel) are still there. Rinaldi tells him that there are no girls, that no new ones have been brought in for two weeks. They are kept for those officers who stay back from the front. Rinaldi wishes he were back with him at Gorizia. Henry tells him he can make fun of the priest. Rinaldi jokes that he thinks Henry and the priest are “a little that way” (having a homosexual relationship). He teases Henry that he is perhaps Italian after all since he is such a lover. Henry gets irritated by this. Rinaldi promises to send Miss Barkley, though he says that she is a good girl, not a woman. The only difference between a good girl and woman, he...
(The entire section is 498 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
That evening the priest from Henry’s mess comes to visit. He brings some presents for Henry: a mosquito net, a bottle of vermouth, and some English newspapers. Henry invites the priest to share some of the vermouth with him. The priest breaks off the cork on trying to open it and must push the cork down into the bottle. He sees this as a personal disappointment.
Henry feels awkward talking with the priest at this point, though he had enjoyed their conversations back at the mess. He notices that the priest looks very tired, which bothers him. The priest admits that he feels very low. Henry says that it must be disgust from the war. The priest admits that he is disgusted by the war, but it is not that. Henry tells him that he and Passini were talking about the war when the shell hit. The priest says that he is like the Italian officers, but he sees and feels more. He does not know who is able to stop the war. Perhaps it is hopeless.
The priest tells Henry that after the war he hopes to return to his home in Abruzzi. He wants to live there and love and serve God. Henry adds that he should be respected as well. The priest admits that he would like that, but here it is impossible. In his home country it is understood that a man may truly love God and wish to serve Him. It is not considered a joke, as it is here with the captain and the other officers. The priest asks Henry if he loves God. Henry confesses that he does not, but he is afraid of Him sometimes in the night. He does not love anyone. The priest says that what Henry has told him about love is really simply passion and lust. To love means to sacrifice and serve someone. Someday he will find a person to sacrifice for and to serve. Henry asks the priest if he has always loved God, since he has never loved a woman except his mother. The priest says that he has loved Him since he was a little boy. Henry tells the priest that he is a “fine boy.” The priest points out that even though Henry calls him “boy,” he also calls him “father.” Henry says that is mere politeness. As the priest leaves, Henry asks him to come visit again.
Henry lies in the dark, thinking of how badly the priest is treated by the other officers even though he accepts it with good grace. He thinks about how the priest would be in his own country, where young men show respect and the hunting is good. Thinking of this, Henry goes to sleep.
(The entire section is 460 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Henry describes the room in the hospital where he has been kept. He faces a long row of windows that overlook the garden cemetery below. There is a door leading to the dressing room where the patients’ bandages are changed. If a patient is dying, a screen is placed around his bed, a priest comes to give him the last rites, and eventually male nurses carry the dead soldier out.
The major in charge of the ward asks Henry if he feels up to being moved the next day, as it is better to move him before the weather gets too hot. Henry says he feels well enough, so arrangements are made to ship him out the next morning. Henry is being moved to the American hospital in Milan. Rinaldi comes to visit him to tell him the news. The United States has now declared war against Germany. Henry thinks it is inevitable that they will also declare war on Austria. The Italians are exuberant about the American entry into the war. They ask Henry if he thinks President Wilson will also declare on the other countries, such as Turkey and Bulgaria. They hope to return to the old splendor of Rome, but Henry says he despises Rome—it is hot and full of fleas. Henry and Rinaldi talk of all there is to do in Rome. Henry states that he can draw a bank draft on his grandfather.
Rinaldi informs Henry that Miss Barkley is also being transferred to the American hospital in Milan. Though the Americans are now in the war, they have not sent over enough American nurses to staff the hospitals, so they are drawing on the English hospitals that are overstaffed. Rinaldi and Henry get drunk, and Rinaldi bids Henry good-bye.
The next morning Henry and the other American patients leave for Milan. It takes two days of difficult travel. At one stop, Henry gives money to a boy to get him a bottle of cognac, but the child can get only grappa. Henry gets drunk and becomes sick on the floor. However, other patients have vomited on the floor as well. Later Henry’s thirst becomes overpowering. A soldier outside the train gives him some water, which he offers to another nauseated patient. The soldier gives Henry an orange, but will not take the penny that Henry offers him. At last the train continues its journey to Milan.
(The entire section is 404 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
The train pulls into Milan in the morning. The patients are unloaded in the freight yard, where the ambulance picks them up to take them to the appropriate hospitals. At the American facility, the porters discover that the stretcher bearing Henry will not fit into the elevator. They decide to pick him up off the stretcher, bending his legs. This causes him intense pain, and he swears at the porters. When they reach the fourth floor, no one is there. They ring the bell and a nurse, Mrs. Walker, arrives. She is old and clearly flustered at Henry’s arrival. She says that no patient was expected, and they cannot put him into just any room. Henry becomes frustrated and tells the porters to put him into any room because they are all empty. Mrs. Walker says all the sheets are locked up, so she cannot make up the bed. Henry tips the porters, and he dismisses them along with Mrs. Walker.
As the pain begins to lessen, Henry relaxes and goes to sleep. In the middle of the day, when he wakes up, he rings the bell to ask for a drink of water but no one answers. He goes back to sleep. When he awakens again, he rings the bell once more, and a young, pretty nurse named Miss Gage arrives. He asks if Miss Barkley is there, but the nurse says no one is there by that name. There are only a few nurses, though more are expected to arrive. Miss Gage changes Henry’s bandages, takes his temperature, and asks questions about his injuries. When he tells her that he has mortar fragments in his legs, she says that is impossible because they would have caused infection. She puts sheets on the bed and gives him some water to drink. He tries to use the bedpan but is unable.
Henry asks when the doctor is supposed to arrive; the doctor is at his clinic at Lake Como. Later in the afternoon Miss Van Campen, the superintendent, arrives. She obviously thinks she is above her position. Henry asks her questions that she cannot answer and she leaves. Miss Gage comes in and asks him why he was rude to Miss Van Campen. He claims he was not, that she was just “snooty.” Henry sends the porter to get him some wine and newspapers. When he returns, Henry reads and drinks. Miss Gage comes in with eggnog in which Miss Van Campen had put some sherry. She offers to bring him supper, but Henry says he is not hungry. At night, Henry wakes up sweating and frightened by nightmares. Closer to morning, he manages to go back to sleep.
(The entire section is 451 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
When Henry wakes up, he thinks he is back at the front for a while. He rings the bell, summoning Miss Gage, whom he decides is not as young or as pretty in the daylight as she seemed the evening before. He asks for a barber, but Miss Gage turns the conversation to the nearly empty bottle of vermouth she found in bed with him. She states that she put the other bottle from under his bed in the armoire. She asks why he didn’t ask her to bring him a glass. It isn’t good for him to drink alone, she says. She also tells him that Miss Barkley has arrived and that she doesn’t like her. She then cleans Henry up, and he again asks for a barber.
When the barber arrives, he does not speak. When Henry asks for news of the war, the barber says that he is Italian and will not communicate with the enemy. Henry is confused at the barber’s belligerence and sends him rudely away when he is finished. The porter comes in, trying to keep from laughing. It seems the barber thought that Henry was an Austrian and so would not talk to him. The porter delights to think of his reaction when he tells him that Henry is an American.
When Catherine Barkley comes in, Henry realizes instantly that he is in love with her. He pulls her down to his bed and kisses her. He says that she is sweet to come to his hospital. Catherine says that it wasn’t hard to come, but it might be hard to stay. He pulls her closer, telling her how much he loves her. He tells her to close the door and secretly they make love.
Afterward, Catherine sits in the chair and asks him if now he believes that she loves him. He begs her to stay, saying that he is crazy in love with her. She says that they must be careful, that they cannot give in to the “madness” as they just did. Henry says that they can at night. Catherine warns him that he will have to be careful around other people. It would be difficult for her to be allowed to stay if it were discovered that they were lovers. Catherine leaves, and Henry muses over the fact that he had not wanted to fall in love with her—or with anyone. But he has. Miss Gage comes in to tell him that the doctor will be coming that afternoon.
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
The doctor returns from Lake Como that afternoon. He takes out some steel splinters from Henry’s thighs and tells him that he must have X-rays. Probing the wound tells him nothing. Henry is transported to another hospital. The doctor there notes that some of the metal fragments in Henry’s leg are brutal. He asks Henry how many Austrians he had killed. Though Henry had not killed any, he lies and says that he killed plenty, just to make the doctor happy. Miss Gage had come with him and is subject to the flirtations of the doctor.
Henry and Miss Gage return to the small hospital where he had originally been taken. The X-ray plates come over later to be examined by the doctor. On examining the plates, the doctor tests the movement of the knee, which is minimal. He seems to have trouble reading the X-rays and tells Henry that the projectiles must encyst before they can be removed. It will be six months before they can operate on Henry’s knee. In disbelief, Henry says he cannot lie in bed for six months. The doctor assures him that he will not be in bed but must take the “sun therapy,” lying in the sun as much as possible. He refuses Henry’s offer of a drink and leaves. When Henry sees that the doctor is only a captain, he does not believe him. He wants a second opinion.
Two hours later, another physician, Dr. Valentini, comes to examine Henry. He is a major and has a sense of humor. He speaks only Italian, so he asks Henry about Miss Barkley, who is the attending nurse. He wants to have dinner with her, but he promises Henry that he will not take her away from him. He tells him that she will make a beautiful boy for him, and he promises to do all their maternity work for free. Because she does not speak Italian, Catherine does not understand a word of this. Henry offers him a drink, and Dr. Valentini gladly accepts. Henry asks when the operation can be performed, and the doctor tells him the next day in the morning. He will leave instructions that Henry is not to have any food or drink prior to the operation, as his stomach must be empty. Henry leaves in high spirits, since this doctor is a major and more trustworthy.
(The entire section is 402 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Catherine is on night duty, which she spends in Henry’s bed. They watch a bat enter the room, hovering over but not bothering them as they lie still. They see a searchlight move across the sky and hear the anti-aircraft gunners talk on the roof next to the hospital. Henry worries about one of the other nurses coming up and discovering them, but Catherine tells him that they are all asleep.
Henry wakes up in the night to find Catherine gone, but she has only left to check that Miss Van Campen (the supervisor) is still asleep. She returns with crackers to eat with their vermouth. Catherine warns Henry that this will all have to be gotten out of him in the morning in preparation for his operation. She wishes they could go for a walk, with Henry in a wheelchair. Henry doubts he could get into a wheelchair himself or that Catherine could put him in herself.
In the morning, Henry begs Catherine to stay with him. She tells him that after his operation he will not want to have anything to do with her. He denies this, but she points out that he has never had an operation, so he cannot know what it will be like. As Catherine gives Henry an enema (to get him clean “inside and out”), she worries that there are too many nurses for so few patients. She hopes that there will be more patients soon, or she may be sent away. Henry vows he will go with her wherever she is sent, but she points out the impossibility of this. Catherine warns Henry not to think about her when he goes under the anesthesia because people have a tendency to babble, and she is worried that he may say something that will give them away. Henry says he knows he won’t talk, but she chides him for bragging. She suggests that he think about family or even some other girl. This leads her to ask if there is any other girl, which he denies. She asks if he has ever loved another girl or even told another girl that he loved her. He lies and says he never has. Catherine promises that she will say whatever he wants and do whatever he wants. He tells her to come back to bed, and she does. She again asks him if he wants any other girls, and he says he does not. Catherine points out how good she is, that she does whatever he wants.
(The entire section is 423 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
Henry wakes up from the operation extremely ill. He feels that anesthesia is a chemical choking. He sees the sandbags at the end of the bed that are attached to pipes coming out of his cast. Miss Gage comes in to check on him, stating that the doctor did a wonderful job on his knee. Henry asks how long the operation took and is told that it lasted for two and a half hours. He asks if he said anything silly, but Miss Gage assures him that he said nothing.
There are three other American patients now in the hospital, none for injuries sustained in battle: two with malaria and one with injuries from unscrewing a fuse cap on an explosive shell. Catherine is greatly liked by the other nurses because she always takes night duty. Henry sleeps in the daytime and writes notes to Catherine during his waking hours. Miss Ferguson acts as postman. Henry likes Miss Ferguson; he discovers that she has a brother in the Fifty-second Division and another in Mesopotamia. He invites her to his and Catherine’s wedding. She tells him that he will never get married, sure that they will either fight or die before that happens. She warns him not to get Catherine pregnant or else she’ll kill him. She doesn’t want Catherine to have a “war baby.” She tells Henry that he should give Catherine a rest, that all these night duties are wearing her out. Henry claims it is her idea to always take that shift, but Miss Ferguson repeats her request. She says that she would be glad to do it, but Catherine always refuses.
Henry rings for Miss Gage. When she comes in, he says that Miss Barkley is getting too tired, that she needs to get off the night shift for a while. Miss Gage gives him a look, telling him that she is his friend and that he does not have to talk to her that way. She knows what has been going on. Henry offers her a glass of vermouth, which she accepts. Henry asks what Miss Van Campen has said about his sleeping late into the morning every day. Miss Gage says that Miss Van Campen calls Henry “our privileged patient.” Miss Gage says Miss Van Campen is just old and cranky and that she hasn’t liked him from the beginning. Miss Gage reiterates that she is Henry’s friend. She promises to get some mineral water to pour over his cast to relieve the itching.
Catherine takes three nights off from the late shift. When she returns, Henry feels it is as though they have met again after having been on a long journey.
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
During the summer, Henry and Catherine spend as much time together as they can. They go for carriage rides, and when Henry can use crutches they go out to dinner. After trying several different restaurants, they settle on the Gran Italia, where the waiter, George, becomes a special friend of theirs. Because of the war, there is no wine waiter to guide them on the wine choices. When Henry requests fresa, George tells them that it is from the country where they think it tastes like strawberries. This appeals to Catherine, and so Henry agrees, but George says it does not taste at all like strawberries and he is proved right. One time, George even lends money to Henry when he finds himself short.
After dinner, Henry and Catherine stroll slowly through the galleria, with its little sandwich shops and cathedral. When they return to the hospital, Catherine goes to the nurses’ station and Henry goes up to his room to wait for her. When she comes to his room, she undresses and lets him takes the pins out of her hair and cover both of them with her long tresses as if they were in a tent.
They try sending telepathic messages to each other from separate rooms. Henry says that it sometimes works most likely because they are thinking the same thing anyway. They consider themselves as married from the first day that she came to the hospital and they made love. Henry wants to be married legally, but Catherine says that she would be sent away if they were. Henry worries that Catherine might become pregnant, and he fears for an illegitimate child. Catherine does not want to be married, which confuses Henry because he thought that all girls wanted to get married. Catherine says that she considers them already married, that Henry should not worry about “making an honest woman” of her. When Henry asks if there is any way that they can be married privately, Catherine tells him that the only way is either through the church or through the state, and either way would reveal to the hospital their status. Catherine says that if she had any religion their unmarried state would bother her, but as she isn’t, she has no problem with their relationship as it now stands. She tries to bring up her old fiancé, but Henry doesn’t want to think about someone else loving her. Catherine says that she knows Henry has been with many other women, but none of that bothers her. She knows it is she that he now loves.
(The entire section is 433 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
Henry’s legs quickly heal. He is not long on crutches before he can get rid of them and use only a cane. He goes to the Ospedale Maggiore frequently for physical therapy. Afterward, he goes to the cafe for a drink and to read the newspapers. He then goes straight back to the hospital to see Catherine. During the day and when she is sleeping they cannot be together, so he has time alone. He goes to the races frequently; often he goes to the Anglo-American Club. He cannot go out alone anymore with Catherine because it is unseemly for a nurse to be with a patient who does not obviously need assistance. Sometimes they go out with Miss Ferguson. Miss Van Campen turns a blind eye because she likes Catherine for her hard work and she thinks that Catherine comes from a “fine family.” The hospital is becoming even busier. The East Front is progressing, but the West Front is showing considerable resistance. Henry wonders if it is going to turn out to be another Hundred Years’ War.
As he leaves the club, Henry meets an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Meyers. Mr. Meyers has been released from prison so he can spend his last days in freedom. Mrs. Meyers is a motherly sort, asking how Henry is doing, calling him (and all the other soldiers) her “dear boys.” She promises to come up to the hospital to see him and the others.
Henry buys a box of chocolates to take to Catherine and stops at a bar where he sees people he recognizes: a vice-consul, two music students, and Ettore Moretti (an Italian from San Francisco who joined the Italian army when he returned to visit his parents). When the one of the musicians talks of his singing career, Ettore mocks him, saying that people throw benches at him because he sings so badly. Ettore congratulates Henry (whom he calls “Fred”) on earning a silver medal. Henry says he is not sure he is going to get it. Ettore shows his stripes that he earned for three wounds, the result of a grenade attack. He urges Henry to quit the Italian army and join the American army. The pay is better, he says.
Henry returns to the hospital, where he tells Catherine about his adventures and conversations of the afternoon. Catherine again asks him if he loves her. It has started to rain. Catherine confesses that she is afraid of the rain because she sees images of herself and Henry dead in the rain. Henry holds her until she stops crying, though it continues to rain.
(The entire section is 439 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
One afternoon Henry and Catherine go to the horse races with Miss Ferguson and Crowell Rodgers (the patient whose eyes were damaged by the exploding shell nose-cap). Crowell says the horses are not the best, but they are all that are available to race during the war. Mr. Meyers does not like to give tips about which horses to bet on. He does not even tell his wife which one he is betting on, so she inevitably loses. However, he will willingly give Crowell tips. Like Crowell, Mr. Meyers’ eyes are not well, so they have a personal connection. They drive out to the race track in an open carriage. The group is allowed in without cards because they are in uniform.
As the horses are led around the track for the spectators to observe before placing their bets, Mr. Meyers points out one that is jet black but looks dyed. This race is for horses who have won less than one thousand lire, so Mr. Meyers believes this one is a good horse to bet on. According to the odds sheet, the horse would pay thirty-five to one. They pool one hundred lire, place their bets, and go to the grand-stand to watch the race. Their horse wins first place, and they are excited, thinking that they will win 3,500 lire. They see Mr. Meyers, who tells them that he also placed a bet on the winning horse, but so did many others at the end, so it will probably not even pay two to one. Miss Ferguson calls the race crooked and disgusting, but Catherine points out that if it had not been crooked, they would not have bet on that horse to begin with. They see Mrs. Meyers; she had not bet on the black horse because she thought he looked seedy. However, the horse she bet on did not win either. They all bet on another horse, which wins, but again they do not win big.
Catherine and Henry stroll around alone. Catherine says she cannot stand to see so many people. She does not like Henry’s friends. Henry suggests they go to a separate spot and watch the race alone. Catherine agrees. They bet on a horse that loses, but it seems much more fun. After they have been alone for a while, they agree to go back and join the others.
(The entire section is 397 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
As September arrives, the days and nights cool off—as does the war. The fighting along the front is not going well; it is becoming a stalemate. Ettore goes back to the front, and Crowell goes back to the States. There are riots against the war in the streets of Milan and Turin. The Italians have lost 150,000 men in the area. In Flanders (in northern Europe along the English Channel), things are going badly as well. A British major tells Henry that the Allies will be “cooked” in another year. But then, he says, they are all cooked. Victory will come only when the last nation realizes it is cooked.
On his way back to the hospital, Henry stops at a barber shop for a shave. His leg is as well as it is going to be for a long while. He sees a man cutting out silhouettes of two young girls. He stops and watches. The man offers to do Henry’s silhouette. When he finishes, Henry tries to pay him but the man presents it as a gift. He urges him to give it to his girl.
When Henry arrives at the hospital, the mail has arrived. Among the letters is a one from his grandfather with a bank draft for two hundred dollars. He also receives an official letter that states that he will have three months’ convalescent leave once he is released from the hospital (which should be in about three days). After that he will return to the front. He undresses and goes to bed to read the newspapers, which are mostly about American baseball.
Catherine comes in at nine o’clock. He tells her about his leave. She asks him where he wants to go. He says that he wants to stay there, so that he can be with her. She says that she will arrange it so that she can go with him, wherever they can be away from people they know. Henry can tell she is upset about something. When he presses her, she refuses to tell what it is, saying that she is afraid that it will make him unhappy or will worry him. Finally, she tells him that she is three months’ pregnant. Henry is shaken but continues to act as if everything is all right. He confesses that he feels a little trapped, but not by Catherine. Catherine says that he is too brave, and nothing happens to the brave. Henry points out that the brave die. Catherine says that they only die once, quoting a line from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one.” Henry offers Catherine a drink, but she refuses, saying that drink only makes her dizzy. She...
(The entire section is 481 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
The night following Catherine’s announcement of her pregnancy, the weather turns cold and rainy. Henry feels sick in the night and becomes nauseated the next morning following breakfast. The house surgeon examines him and has him look in a mirror to see that the whites of his eyes are yellow. He has jaundice and is ill for two weeks. Because of his illness, he and Catherine do not get to spend his convalescent leave as they had planned in Pallanza on Lago Maggiore.
One day as Henry is bed-ridden with jaundice, Miss Van Campen marches into his room, opens the armoire door, and finds Henry’s stash of empty liquor bottles. She is particularly incensed by a bear-shaped bottle. She demands to know how long Henry has had liquor in his room. He informs her that he brought some with him at the beginning and has bought some ever since. His justification is that he has had Italian officers come to visit him and must have something to offer them to drink. In response to her questioning, he also admits that he has drunk it himself. Miss Van Campen informs him that she will have someone come to take the empty bottles away. She says that she regrets pitying him for his jaundice. She accuses him of purposely getting jaundice through alcoholism to avoid being sent back to the front. She warns him that “self-inflicted jaundice” will not entitle him to a convalescent leave.
Henry asks Miss Van Campen if she has ever had jaundice. She replies that she has seen a great deal of it but has never had it herself. She imagines that, despite the discomfort, it must be better than going back to the front. Henry than asks her if she ever knew a man who had tried to disable himself by kicking himself in the scrotum. She ignores his question and reiterates that she has known several men who have tried to avoid being sent back to the front by giving themselves wounds. Henry tells her that she is ignoring his question and that being kicked in the scrotum is the nearest thing he can think of to having jaundice. Miss Van Campen is furious and storms out. Miss Gage comes in and asks Henry what he said to set Miss Van Campen off. He explains, and Miss Gage calls him a fool. She promises Henry that she will swear that he never drank anything himself, but he tells her that Miss Van Campen found the bottles. When Miss Gage tries to take the bottles out, Miss Van Campen arrives and takes them to show to the doctor after she files her report. Henry loses...
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
The day arrives on which Henry is to return to the front. His train leaves at midnight so he sends the porter down to the station to hold a seat for him. It is dark, cold, and misty. He goes to a wine shop and waits inside. He sees Catherine wearing a long cape and felt hat. They walk down to the cathedral square, where they see a soldier and woman huddled together with a cape wrapped around them. Henry makes note that they are just like Catherine and him, but Catherine disagrees, stating that no one is like them. She does not say this happily. They walk around the square, stopping by a leather goods shop and looking at ski gear. They talk of going skiing some time.
Henry stops at an armourer’s shop to buy a pistol to fit in the holster he is required to wear around town. He finds one that is adequate and buys extra clips and cartridges. He feels sufficiently armed now. He notices tiny mirrors set in wood. He asks the saleswoman what they are, and she tells him that they are used to attract larks by hunters. Catherine comments on the ingenuity of the Italians.
Continuing their walk, they huddle against a wall, with Catherine’s cape wrapped around them. Henry suggests they go someplace. They go to a hotel across from the train station. Catherine, uncomfortable about showing up at a hotel without any luggage, stops to buy a nightgown. At the hotel the manager shows them to a room decorated in red plush. Catherine says she never felt like a whore before. Henry tells her that she is not a whore. She knows that she is not, but it is not nice to feel like one. Soon she says that she feels like a “good girl” again. They have dinner brought up to their room. Catherine, looking at their sumptuous food and the luxuriant furnishings, says that vice is a wonderful thing; people who go in for it have good taste about it. Drinking wine, Catherine says that such drink gave her father gout, but Henry does not have to worry about ever meeting him. She asks Henry about his father. Henry says he has only a step-father, and Catherine doesn’t have to worry about meeting him either.
Henry asks Catherine where she will have the baby. She is not sure, but she will look for the best place she can find. She tells him not to worry, that they may have several babies before the war is over. She promises to write to him often, making her letters confusing enough that they will be private from the censors. Catherine promises Henry...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
Instead of taking the elevator, Henry and Catherine go down the stairs to the hotel lobby, where the waiter is waiting for them. The manager, who is a friend of Henry’s, had refused payment in advance but positioned the waiter by the exit just in case Henry decided to leave without paying. Evidently his “friends” had stiffed him previously. Friends are easy to make in wartime but do not always prove trustworthy.
After paying, Henry asks the waiter to get them a carriage. He takes Catherine’s package (her nightgown) and goes out to the street. It is raining, so Henry and Catherine wait inside. Henry asks Catherine how she feels. She tells him she feels sleepy. Henry feels hollow and hungry. Catherine asks if he has something to eat on the train; he does.
The carriage takes Henry and Catherine through the rain to the train station. Henry dismisses a porter who comes to carry the baggage. Henry and Catherine say good-bye simply and without emotion. The carriage takes Catherine back to the hospital. Catherine gestures to Henry to go inside out of the rain. He goes in, but he watches the carriage until it turns a corner.
On the train platform, the porter Henry had sent to save his seat is waiting. He follows Henry onto the train, past a crowd of people, to the seat a machine gunner is holding for him. His luggage is above on the rack. Many soldiers are standing in the isle and look resentfully at Henry. When Henry sits, someone taps him on the shoulder. He turns to see a captain of the artillery with a red scar along his jaw. The captain tells Henry that he can’t have a soldier save a seat for him. (It is obvious from his uniform that he is only an ambulance driver.) Henry tells him simply, “I have done it.” All the others look at Henry through the compartment window. No one inside the compartment says anything. The captain tells Henry that he has been waiting two hours for a seat, and he wants the seat. Henry says that he wants it as well. Eventually, Henry acknowledges that the captain is right and stands up to give him the seat. Though he searches for a spot in other parts of the train, he finds only a place in the aisle where he can lie down. He arranges himself, hoping that men will get off at the next stop although the machine gunner warns him that more men will come on. Henry goes to sleep in the aisle in the overcrowded train.
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
It is fall when Henry returns to Gorizia. He sees the landscape desolated from the season and from the war. Several more houses have suffered from the bombs. He passes a British ambulance driven by a man he does not recognize. He returns to the hospital where he is greeted by the major, who tells him that it has been a bad summer. The major asks Henry if he received the decorations. Henry shows him the two ribbons, but the boxes with the medals have not yet arrived. Henry asks what the major wants him to do. The cars (ambulances) are all away, but Henry can get the four cars that are on the Bainsizza. They have lost three of the cars at the front.
Henry asks after Rinaldi, and the major tells him that he has been busy all summer and fall. The fighting has been bad since Henry was wounded, but now it is over for the year. The major predicts that the next year it will be worse. Henry tells him that the Americans are training an army of ten million (an exaggeration) to come to Europe. The major hopes that they will get some of them, but he predicts the French will get them all. He complains that Italy never gets reinforcements.
Henry goes up to his room. Rinaldi is not there, but he soon returns. Henry thinks he looks thinner but otherwise the same. Rinaldi wants to see Henry’s knee. He looks at it with the eye of a surgeon and tells Henry that he should not have been sent back, that he needs more therapy. Rinaldi confesses that the war is killing him. He invites Henry to join him in a drink, but Henry tells him he cannot have alcohol because of his jaundice. Rinaldi asks about Catherine and makes suggestive comments. Henry shuts him down—this is a sacred subject. At mealtime, the major and the priest join them. Rinaldi still jokes at the priest’s expense, and the priest still takes it in good grace. After several drinks, Rinaldi becomes drunk. He becomes aggressive with the others, who try to calm him down. At last Rinaldi goes to bed. The major tells Henry that Rinaldi fears that he has syphilis and is treating himself for it. They say good-bye to Henry, who will leave to retrieve the cars before daylight the next morning. The major warns Henry to try to keep Rinaldi from drinking too much.
(The entire section is 415 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
As Henry looks out the door, he notices the rain has been replaced by a mist. He suggests to the priest that they continue their conversation up in his room. The priest asks Henry how he really feels. Henry insists that he is all right, only tired. The priest confesses that he is also tired, but from no cause.
Henry asks the priest his opinion of the progress of the war. The priest says that he thinks it will be over soon. He has no evidence to base this on, but it is just a feeling. He sees that people, like the major, are becoming “gentle.” The summer has been terrible, as Henry knows from personal experience. Many people have “realized” the war this summer. They are aware of the true nature of the war. The priest insists that it cannot go on much longer.
The priest tells Henry that he believes that both sides will just stop fighting. Henry cannot see how either side, especially the Austrians, will stop fighting all at once. The priest, however, sees such a change in everyone that he believes that, though unlikely, it is possible. Henry points out that the Austrians have won some crucial battles, and no one stops fighting voluntarily when they are winning.
The priest recognizes that Henry is trying to discourage him, but Henry says that he is only saying what he thinks. He says that it is only in defeat that we become Christians. The priest misunderstands, saying that the Austrians are already Christians, except for the Bosnians in the region. Henry explains that he does not mean “technically Christian” but “Christlike.” The soldiers are gentler now because they are beaten. He asks the priest how Christ would have been if Peter had rescued him (as he tried to do by cutting off a Roman soldier’s ear) in the Garden of Gethsemane. The priest says that Christ would have been the same, but Henry disagrees.
The priest has become discouraged through his conversation with Henry. He says that he will pray that something will happen. Henry says that if anything happens, it will only happen to the side of the Allies. Everyone on this side was beaten the moment they were taken away from their homes. This is why peasants have such wisdom, because they are beaten from the start. Henry says that now he has depressed himself. The priest says that he had hoped for more, for a victory, but he does not believe in victory in more. Henry says that, at the moment, the only thing he believes in is sleep...
(The entire section is 459 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
Henry wakes when Rinaldi comes in but does not speak to him, and Rinaldi does not wake the next morning when Henry leaves. Henry is headed to the Bainsizza, a region he has not seen before; it has been controlled by the Austrians until recently. The road he travels ends in a wrecked village, beyond which the razor-wire lines are in place. Although the buildings are destroyed, things seem to be well organized as a military encampment. Henry finds Gino, another ambulance driver, and goes with him to visit the different posts along the front. The British ambulance corps is working closer to the front. Gino has great admiration for the British.
The rains have started, so more ill soldiers are expected. The Austrians are expected to attack soon, but Gino does not believe it. Gino shows Henry some of the artillery, which he says look scary but are not that effective. As he says this, artillery sounds. He says it is no use being wounded if you are scared to death (meaning, there is no chance for a posthumous medal). At the moment, Croats are close to the front lines.
As Henry looks around the Bainsizza, he is surprised that it is not more like a plateau; rather, it is broken up. It will be difficult to defend. Gino tells Henry that food is scarce but he is not starving. However, enough food can make a big difference as to a soldier’s mental abilities. Gino speaks of patriotism, glory, and honor. Such words embarrass Henry. He is more in tune with tangible things like numbers and names.
The weather is cold and stormy. Artillery sounds from the Austrian side. During the middle of the night, the bombardment becomes intense, as does the weather. The wounded begin to come to the post, and Henry loads them onto the cars to take them down to the post hospitals set up in the few abandoned buildings that are still standing. Rain comes mixed with snow, but it does not accumulate and changes back to all snow when the morning comes. A rumor is spread that the German army is approaching. This fills the men with dread; the German army is much more powerful than the Austrian troops they are currently fighting. They are to retreat. Henry asks how all of the wounded are to be evacuated. He is told that all of them won’t be, but they will carry out as many as they can. They begin to evacuate the field hospitals. Henry sees the prostitutes from the officers’ whorehouse also being removed.
When Henry returns to Gorizia,...
(The entire section is 511 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
As the retreat continues, more trucks, troops, and artillery gather on the road. It becomes glutted with vehicles, both motorized and horse-drawn. Henry gets out to see what is holding up the line. The block is further ahead than he can see. As the column of vehicles does not move, he and Piani (another ambulance driver) sleep. After several hours, Henry hears the truck ahead of him start its engine. He wakes Piani, and they move forward a few yards before traffic stops again. It continues to rain throughout the night. The trucks stop and start several times without making much progress.
Henry gets out to check on another of their ambulances. He finds two passengers, sergeants of engineers, who got separated from their unit and are hitching a ride with the ambulance. Henry goes to the next ambulance, driven by Aymo; has two young girls in the seat with him. One looks sixteen, the other a year younger. Aymo puts his hand suggestively on the older girl’s thigh, but she pushes him away. He laughs and tells her not to worry, that there is no room for sex anyway, though he uses a vulgar term for it. This is the only word she understands and she begins to cry. Aymo asks if she and her sister are virgin, and they nod their heads.
Henry goes back to Piani’s car. The column still has not moved, and it is still raining hard. Henry speculates that the combination of horse and motor transports is causing the problem. Perhaps some horses are asleep, or perhaps some drivers. He thinks about the two young girls in Aymo’s car. If there were no war, everyone would be safe and asleep in their own beds. He thinks of Catherine and wonders what side of the bed she sleeps on. His mind drifts in and out of sleep, with random lines of poetry floating through his head. He thinks that Catherine is comforting him, and he talks to her. He awakens to find that he has been talking in his sleep. However, since he talked in English, Piani did not understand him.
As the traffic continues to creep at a snail’s pace, Henry decides to take his group off by a side road. They come upon an abandoned farmhouse. When some of the sergeants go into the house and come back with a clock, Henry tells them to take it back. They take some food but nothing else. Henry commands the cars to move on down the narrow road.
(The entire section is 427 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
In the middle of the day, the caravan of ambulances is stuck in a muddy road about ten kilometers from Udine. The rain has stopped, and sounds of airplanes can be heard overhead, bombing the main highway. Taking many deserted secondary roads, Henry has led the ambulances closer to Udine. Aymo’s car, however, has become trapped in the mud. The men put brush under the wheels but are unable to drive it out. The two sergeants who hitched a ride get out and look at the wheels, then start walking away down the road. When Henry commands them to come and cut brush to put under the wheels, they say that they have to go. When Henry repeats his order, they tell him that he is not their officer and cannot order them to do anything. They continue walking, this time a little faster. Henry removes his pistol and fires at them, and he eventually hits one. The other takes off running. Bonello, another driver, says he will go finish him. Henry hands him the pistol, and Bonello kills the sergeant.
The brush under the tires does not seem to help, nor does a rope tied to another car. Henry sees the two young girls sitting on a stone wall up ahead, waiting. The men try putting brush and even some clothing under the wheels one more time, then they give up trying.
The men discuss what to do with the two girls. Piani suggests that they get in the back of one of the ambulances. Henry tells them to go into the town where they will find friends and family. He gives them some money and the girls walk down the road. The other drivers laugh, asking how much Henry will give them to start walking. Bonello wishes that they had bicycles, which he says would be easier than walking. He asks Henry if people ride bicycles in America. Henry replies that they used to.
The men hear gunfire in the distance. Bonello fears that they might be cavalry. Piani points out that Bonello shot the sergeant, so he must not be too cowardly. Bonello says that he always wanted to kill a sergeant. Aymo asks what he will say about it in confession. Bonello says he will say, “Bless me, father, I killed a sergeant.” Piani says that Bonello is an anarchist, and Bonello replies that Piani is one as well. Henry asks if they are really anarchists, but they tell him that they are socialists, as is everyone in Imola, their hometown. The men cease talking and begin walking faster down the road.
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary
Henry and the ambulance drivers are on a road leading to a river. When they come to a bridge, they discover that it had been bombed, making crossing there impossible. They spot a railway bridge nearby and decide to try to cross there. Henry goes across first, checking for booby traps, and then they all cross the bridge on foot. Once across, Henry looks upriver and sees a larger bridge that has not been blown up. German officers crossing the bridge in a car. The men fear that they are cut off. They see German soldiers riding across the stone bridge on bicycles. Henry does not understand why the Germans blew up the little bridge but left the larger one intact.
Henry and the others walk along the railroad track, ducking out of sight when more Germans come by on bicycles. It is obvious that the Germans saw them but ignored them. They continue walking, trying to avoid the main line of the retreat. Climbing down an embankment, Aymo is shot and killed by Italian troops. Only Henry, Piani, and Bonello are left. They realize that they are in more danger from the Italian rear guard in retreat than from the Germans. They compose Aymo’s body on the embankment then keep walking until they find an abandoned farmhouse. Henry looks for a place to wait in the bard. Bonello and Piani go searching for food. Piani returns alone, explaining that Bonello abandoned him, going over to the Germans to be captured. Bonello feared being accidentally shot by the Italians as Aymo had and thought it would be safer as a prisoner of war.
When it is dark, Henry and Piani continue their journey and at last join the retreating Italian army on the highway. Henry asks Piani if he is married; he is. Piani puts the same question to Henry, who says that he is not. He says nothing about Catherine or the baby she is carrying.
After crossing a bridge, Henry sees members of the Italian battle police studying the retreating soldiers. They take officers to the side. They grab Henry, and he fights. A battle police officer orders them to shoot him if he resists. He watches as they question officers before him. The battle police question a lieutenant-colonel, who tells them that if they are going to shoot him they should shoot him without further questioning. The police take him off to the side and shoot him. They are executing any high-ranking officer who is not with his troops. Henry manages to escape from the police and runs to the river. Dodging gunfire,...
(The entire section is 461 words.)
Chapter 31 Summary
Henry continues to float down the river, afraid that camps would prevent his getting ashore. He considers taking off his clothes and boots but decides against it. He will need footwear when he reaches the shore, since he must walk to Mestre.
At last the timber he is floating with takes him near the shore. He climbs up and rests under the bushes. He manages to get to his feet and begins walking. He knows there is no bridge across the river nearby. Finding a concealed ditch, he takes off his clothes and dries off as much as he can. He has sufficient money for the time being, but he hopes he does not become ill from wearing damp clothes. It is still raining, and he has no cape. His pistol is also gone; he hides his holster under his coat. Coming to the road Henry sees troops coming but he continues limping along the side of the road. The troops pass and ignore him. He manages to cross the Venetian plain that day.
He comes to the main train track from Venice to Trieste. He sees a flag station with some soldiers on guard and another soldier at the bridge. He lies down, waiting for a train to come. He almost gives up hope but finally he hears a train coming. Henry looks at the guard on the bridge and realizes there will be guards on the train. Henry steps up to the train tracks. He sees a low open car covered with a canvas. As it passes, he jumps up between the cars onto the coupling. As he passes the guard on the bridge, Henry gives him a look of contempt, so the young soldier (wearing a helmet too big for him) thinks that he has some sort of job on the train.
After the train passes the guard, Henry cuts through the rope securing the canvas and feels inside. He sees a guard on the freight car ahead, so he climbs under the canvas. He bumps his head, cutting it badly. He feels blood pour over his face. He resecures the canvas. Looking around him, he sees that the car carries guns, sent ahead of the third army. Henry feels the cut on his head swelling. He waits until the blood has coagulated and then picks off the dried blood around the cut. He knows he will need to look inconspicuous when he gets off the train.
(The entire section is 410 words.)
Chapter 32 Summary
Henry tries to get comfortable on the floor of the flat car. His clothes are wet and cold, and he is hungry. He thinks about his reconstructed knee and how little trouble it has given him. He no long considers it to be his knee but the doctor’s. His (empty) stomach and his head are his alone. His head, however, cannot be used to think, only to remember—but not too much. He thinks of Catherine, but realizes that if he thinks about her too much he will go crazy. He fantasizes about lying with her on the floor of the flat car, under the canvas covering. He is overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness.
He thinks about the progression and regression of the war, one side winning, then the other side winning. He thinks of his lost ambulances and his lost men. He compares his situation to that of a department store floorwalker who loses his stock in a fire. There is no fire insurance, and the floorwalker is out of the business without obligation. They don’t shoot floorwalkers because they don’t have an Italian accent as they do soldiers. If they did, then the floorwalkers would not be expected to return to the store following the fire when it is opened for business once more. The floorwalker would be free to find another position, as long as there is other employment and the police do not get him first.
Henry has deserted the Italian army, but he is not angry. His time in the river washed away his anger and his obligation. He has cut the stars off of his uniform that marked him as an officer. He would get rid of his uniform if he could. It is not that he is against the honor of being an officer, but he is through with the army. This is his “farewell to arms.” He wishes the remaining soldiers good luck, but it is no longer his fight. He wishes the train would take him to Mestre so that he can eat and stop thinking.
Henry thinks that Piani will tell the officials that Henry was shot. However, since they take the papers of the individuals they shoot, perhaps they will take the position that Henry was drowned in the river. Henry wonders what will be reported to his family back home, perhaps “dead from wounds and other causes.” He wonders what has become of Rinaldi and the priest. He does not think that Rinaldi has syphilis, plus it is not that serious if caught in time. Henry thinks that the only thing he was made for was to eat and drink and sleep with Catherine. He contemplates where the two of them will go;...
(The entire section is 467 words.)
Chapter 33 Summary
Henry gets off the train in Milan, where he had been hospitalized and fell in love with Catherine. He goes into a wine shop and gets some coffee. Two soldiers who are visibly drunk are at a table nearby. The proprietor asks Henry if he would like a glass of grappa, which Henry turns down. The proprietor asks what is happening at the front, but Henry says he does not know, pretending that he is not involved in the war. However, the proprietor says he saw Henry come down from the wall; he knows Henry came off the train that just arrived. Henry tells him that there is a big retreat.
The proprietor gives Henry a glass of grappa and tells him that he will help if he is in trouble. Henry denies being in trouble, but the proprietor persists, telling him that he can stay there if he is in trouble. Henry asks where the others who are in trouble stay. The man answers that they stay there, in the building. Henry is told that it is difficult now to leave Italy but it is not impossible. He again tells the proprietor that he is not in trouble and invites him to have a glass of grappa with him. The proprietor warns him to lose his coat, as the places where Henry removed the stars are visible by the different coloration on the cloth. He also tells Henry that he can get him papers. Henry says he doesn’t need papers, but he asks how much they are. As Henry leaves, the proprietor assures him again that he is his friend.
Henry takes a cab to the hospital, where he is greeted warmly by the porter and his wife. He asks after Catherine and is told that she has gone to Stresa with another English lady (Helen Ferguson). Henry asks them not to tell anyone that they have seen him.
He then goes to the apartment of Simmons, one of the opera singers he had befriended. Henry tells Simmons that he is in a jam and wants to know how to get into Switzerland. Simmons tells him that he cannot leave Italy. Henry knows this, but he wants to know what would happen if he reached Switzerland. Simmons tells him that he would be interned but allowed to wander around, only needing to check in at times. Simmons changes the topic, telling him that his concert went badly. Henry asks him to go buy him some civilian clothes because his are all in Rome. Simmons offers some of his own clothes.
(The entire section is 432 words.)
Chapter 34 Summary
Henry feels odd in his civilian clothes. Although the clothes that Simmons gives him are adequate, he cannot wear his old hat. He buys a new one and boards the train to Stresa. He sees some aviators staring at him with contempt because a man of his age should still be a civilian rather than a soldier. Henry does not feel insulted. He has a paper but does not want to read any news about the war.
At the train station in Stresa, Henry notices that there are no porters. The tourist season is now over, so he asks a station agent if there are any hotels open. The agent gives him a couple of suggestions. Henry gets a carriage and goes to one of the bigger hotels. There he tells the concierge that he is waiting for his wife, so he is given a large bridal chamber. He goes down to the bar where he finds that he knows the bartender. Henry explains that he is on convalescent leave. They share news, and then Henry asks if there are two English nurses around. The bartender finds out that they are at another small hotel near the train station. Henry eats dinner and refuses to answer the bartender’s questions about the war.
Henry goes to the hotel and sees Catherine and Helen Ferguson in the hotel restaurant. Catherine is overjoyed to see him, but Helen is furious with him for getting Catherine pregnant. She calls him a sneaking American Italian, like a snake. When Helen accuses Henry of sneaking off now that he’s got Catherine pregnant, Catherine says that they will both sneak off. Helen begins to cry, feeling deserted by Catherine. Helen tries show Catherine the shame of her situation, and Catherine promises to feel ashamed if she’ll just stop crying. Helen tells them to go, and Henry wants to because he is growing tired of Helen. Catherine says they will stay until after dinner.
Back in their hotel room, Henry and Catherine go to bed, sleeping and making love. Henry thinks about the great courage Catherine is showing, feeling that the world will kill such people in order to break them. In the morning, Henry and Catherine talk about their situation. Since Henry is out of uniform, he will be arrested and shot for desertion. He suggests that they go down the lake to Switzerland. Catherine agrees and tells Henry that he needs to stop feeling like a criminal. They agree to leave Italy immediately.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Chapter 35 Summary
Catherine leaves Henry to visit with Helen Ferguson down by the lake. Henry sits in the bar and reads the newspapers. He is at last ready to learn about the progress of the war. He recognizes some of the places mentioned in the articles.
The barman tells Henry that Count Greffi has asked to see him. Greffi is a ninety-four-year-old man Henry had met on a previous visit. The focus of their relationship was billiards, and the Count wants to play once again with Henry. In the meantime, Henry asks the barman, who has nothing to do at the moment, to go fishing with him. The barman agrees, and they row out into the lake. Not catching any fish, they decide to get a drink at a café on an island. The barman offers to row back and again asks how the war is going. Henry tells him that it is going rotten. The barman says that, like Count Greffi, he is old and so will not have to go. Henry warns him that he might have to if the war continues much longer. The barman states that he will instead leave the country. He had previously fought in the war with Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and that is enough for him. When the barman asks why he went to war, Henry says he does not know but that he was a fool to do so. The men row back and again catch nothing. The barman tells Henry that he may have the key to the boat any time he wants.
Catherine returns and tells Henry that Helen will join them for lunch. Henry says that he doesn’t mind. Catherine can tell something is wrong and asks Henry about it, but he says he doesn’t know. Catherine feels bad about leaving him to visit with Helen and encourages him to go out and do something. He tells her that he went fishing with the barman. She says that it would be easier if he tried not to think about her when she was absent. Henry tells her that he did this at the front, but there was something to do then, unlike here.
At lunch with Catherine and Helen, Henry sees Count Greffi with his niece, who reminds Henry of his grandmother. Helen leaves after lunch, and Catherine says she wants to lie down for a nap. The Count sends an invitation to billiards up to Henry’s room, and Henry accepts. As they play, the Count talks of getting old. He finds it easier to speak Italian than his native German. They talk of literature (Henry hasn’t read anything good for a while) and life after death. Henry asks Count Greffi what he really thinks of the war. Greffi’s reply is that it is stupid and that...
(The entire section is 508 words.)
Chapter 36 Summary
During the night, it begins to storm, and rain comes through the open window. Henry is awakened by a knock on the door. It is Emilio, the barman, who tells Henry that he overheard talk in town that Henry will be arrested in the morning. Henry asks innocent questions, such as why they are arresting him, though he knows it is for desertion. The barman says that since the retreat they are arresting everyone who happens to be out of uniform.
The barman suggests that Henry go to Switzerland to escape arrest. He offers his own boat, but Henry protests that it is storming. The barman says that the storm is over, but the lake is still rough. Henry wakes Catherine and tells her of the barman’s news. She agrees to leave immediately for Switzerland. She has Henry turn away while she gets dressed because she feels uncomfortable about his seeing her naked now that her pregnancy is beginning to show.
Leaving the hotel, Henry tells the porter that they are just going out for a walk in the rain (at eleven o’clock at night). The porter gives Henry an umbrella since he does not have one; Catherine has her own. Henry pays him and promises to be back. At the dock the barman has placed their bags in the boat. Henry promises to pay him for the boat when they get to Switzerland. The barman refuses any money until that time. He gives them some sandwiches, brandy, and wine for the trip. He gives them directions to reach Switzerland. Henry is nonplussed to discover that it is thirty-five kilometers away. If they row constantly through the night, they should reach safety by seven o’clock the next morning. Henry is concerned that they might get lost without a compass, since the sky is still overcast and rainy. The barman assures them that the wind will take them to Pallanza. When Henry worries that the wind will change, the barman tells them that the wind will blow constant for three days. He asks if Henry left money for the hotel room, and Henry assures him that he did. The barman wishes them good luck, and Henry thanks him. The barman tells him he can thank him if he doesn’t drown. Since they were speaking Italian, Catherine has not understood their conversation and asks what he said. Henry tells her that he simply wished them good luck. Henry begins rowing and they head out into the lake, driven by the wind.
(The entire section is 423 words.)
Chapter 37 Summary
In the night, Henry and Catherine row across the lake. Catherine regrets that Helen Ferguson will wake to find them gone. The wind continues to blow all night. Catherine suggests holding up the umbrella as a sail. Henry tries this, and it works very well until the umbrella is blown inside out. Catherine laughs because he looked funny. Keeping warm with the brandy and drinking water out of the lake, Henry continues rowing through the night. Catherine takes a short turn while Henry rests. Close to the break of morning, they hear a motor boat approaching. They row close to the shore while it passes. It is border patrol, but it passes without noticing them.
In the morning, with the rain falling, they realize that they are in Switzerland. They see a soldier coming out of a café and they wave to him in a friendly manner. Henry wants to make sure that they are well inside the border before they stop. When he is convinced that they are safe, he pulls to shore. Leaving their bags in the boat, they go to a café and order breakfast. The war has affected even neutral Switzerland, as there are no rolls during wartime. Catherine had been looking forward to rolls all night but is complacent. They enjoy their breakfast, but they know that they will most likely be arrested afterward.
When Henry and Catherine go back to their boat, there is a soldier standing guard over their boat. He questions them and examines their passports. Henry tells him they are cousins, coming to Switzerland for the winter sports. He had been studying architecture in Rome, and Catherine (his cousin) had been studying art, but this was hampered by the war. The guard seems to accept their story but must send them to Locarno. They are questioned there but do not have a bad time. Henry can tell that the soldier does not believe a word of their story, but they have passports and especially a sufficient amount of money to spend in Switzerland. They are given a temporary visa and are told that they must report to the police every new place they visit. Henry tells the guards they are planning to go to Montreux, and the guards argue about whether Montreux has winter sports. Worn out from their long night of escape, Henry and Catherine go to a hotel to rest.
(The entire section is 401 words.)
Chapter 38 Summary
Henry and Catherine are living in a small lodge up in the mountains above Montreux. The snow has come early, and they wish they could ski. They do not know anyone in Montreux, but are well taken care of by Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen, who run the lodge. Their son, who is a waiter in a hotel in Zurich, is coming home, and Henry hopes he will teach him to ski.
Catherine goes to the coiffeur’s (hairdresser’s) to get a permanent wave put in her hair. It is a time-consuming process, but Henry waits patiently. Afterward, Catherine suggests that they stop for a beer. Her doctor suggested this for keeping down the baby’s birth weight, a concern because of Catherine’s narrow pelvis. Catherine believes the baby will be a girl and refers to her as “young Catherine.” Catherine says that after the baby is born they should get married. When Henry suggests that they get married now, Catherine refuses. She doesn’t want to be married while she is so visibly pregnant. Catherine had lied to the hairdresser about her unmarried state and told her that they already had two boys and two girls. She promises Henry that they will get married as soon as she is thin again. In that way there will be no looks of reproach as there would be now. Catherine has another beer and tells Henry that the doctor said she could ski if she did not fall down (he was joking). She tells Henry that when she marries him she will be an American and their child will be legitimate. According to an almanac she had read, a baby was legitimate once the parents got married. Catherine talks about visiting America and the places she wants to see, such as Niagara Falls and the Golden Gate Bridge. Catherine drinks one more beer and they leave. They take the train up to the lodge. Henry is concerned that Catherine is tired, but she claims she is not.
Snow finally comes three days before Christmas. Catherine again says how much she wishes she could ski. Mr. Guttingen says his son will be home soon and he will teach Henry to ski. Catherine asks Henry if he wishes he could see other people instead of being stuck with her. She is afraid that, now that she is so big, she bores Henry. Henry tells her about Rinaldi’s fear of syphilis. Catherine asks if he ever had something like that, and he tells her that he had gonorrhea. Catherine suggests that he let his hair grow out and she would cut hers so that they could look alike. Then she asks him to grow a beard, and he says he...
(The entire section is 489 words.)
Chapter 39 Summary
It is January, and Henry’s beard is longer. The air is cold enough that the snowy roads are packed hard and walking on them is easy. The snow reaches almost all the way down the mountain to the village of Montreux. On their walks, Catherine wears hobnailed boots and carries a pike to keep from slipping. They stop at an inn that caters mostly to the woodcutters; they warm up with spiced red wine. On the road home the snow is churned up with mud into an orange color until they get off the wood-hauling track, where it is pure white again. They see foxes along the roadside.
Catherine tells Henry that she is impressed with his beard. She asks him if he noticed the man with tiny gold earrings. Henry tells her that he is a chamois hunter and that the earrings are supposed to improve hearing. Catherine cynically says that he wears them so that people will know he is a chamois hunter. Henry wishes that people had lovely tails like the foxes they saw. Catherine points out that such tails would make dressing difficult. Henry’s reply is that they would have clothes made or else live in a county where clothes wouldn’t make any difference. Catherine says that they live in such a country now. They never see any other people. She asks Henry if he wants to see other people, but he says he does not. She wants to sit a while because she is tired. They sit together on some logs and look down the road that goes through the forest.
Catherine expresses her hope that the baby will not come between them. Henry promises her that they won’t let her. Catherine asks how they are situated for money. Henry tells her that that are all right, that the bank honored the last sight draft from his family. Catherine asks Henry whether his family will try and get hold of him once they discover that he is no longer in Italy but is in Switzerland. Henry replies that he should write them something. He has not communicated with them at all except by cashing the sight draft. Catherine asks if he cares for his family. Henry tells her that they quarreled so much that he stopped caring. Catherine says she believes that she would like them. Fully rested, they continue walking toward the lodge. Catherine says she will not cut her hair until after the baby is born. Perhaps Henry will fall in love with her all over again. Henry tells her that he loves her enough now.
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapter 40 Summary
The months go by and the winter begins to fade. Henry and Catherine are very happy up in the mountains, however, and do not mind the cold spells interrupted by short thaws. As the snow changes to rain, Henry wonders whether they should move down to Montreux. It is about a month until the baby is due, so Catherine suggests going to Lausanne where the hospital is. Henry worries that it is too big a town for them, but Catherine says they can be alone in a big town as easily as a small one. The snow is rapidly disappearing under the constant rain. Mr. Guttingen says he understands that they must leave at short notice. He extracts a promise from Henry that they will come back to visit them after the baby is born. The Guttingens take them down to the train station and wave them off.
Henry and Catherine take the train to Lausanne, where they find a small hotel. Catherine unpacks while Henry reads the war news in the newspapers. It is March 18 and the German offensive has started in France. Catherine points out that she must get some baby clothes. When she says that she has to find out what is necessary for a baby, Henry says that, as a nurse, she ought to know. Catherine says that very few of the soldiers had babies. Henry says he did and Catherine throws a pillow at him, spilling his drink. She orders up another one, and they discuss whether to go out or stay in for dinner. She does not like to go out, claiming that she is as big as a “big flour-barrel.” When the waiter brings up Henry’s drink, they order dinner to be brought to their room. Henry sticks to his whiskey and soda. He thinks that he will have to tell the waiter not to put the ice in the whiskey but to bring it up separately. As he thinks about this, Catherine asks him what he is thinking about. When he tells her he is thinking about whiskey, she dismisses the topic.
They stay at the hotel for three weeks. It is almost empty, so they often eat meals in their room. They walk around town in the gradually warming weather. After a few days, however, the cold of winter returns. Catherine buys things she needs for the baby, and Henry takes up boxing for exercise. He thinks that a boxer should not have a beard and contemplates shaving it off, but Catherine does not want him to. When the weather again turns warm, they take rides in the country. They know that the baby will soon arrive and do not want “to lose any time together.”
(The entire section is 456 words.)
Chapter 41 Summary
At three o’clock one morning, Catherine awakens Henry to tell him that she is having labor pains. They take a taxi to the hospital where Catherine is checked in. When she is settled in her room, Catherine tells Henry that it will be a long wait and so he’d better go get some breakfast. The nurse agrees, but he decides to stay. Later, Catherine again urges him to go, so Henry goes to a café nearby and has breakfast. When he goes back to the hospital, Henry notices a dog sniffing around the trash cans. He looks inside the cans to see if there is anything for the dog, but there is nothing.
When Henry returns to the hospital, he finds Catherine’s room empty. The nurse explains that she has been taken to the delivery room, where she can be given anesthesia to ease the labor pains. At noon, the baby still has not arrived. The doctor goes to get a bite to eat, leaving Henry to give Catherine the anesthesia as needed. At two o’clock, Henry goes to have lunch at the same café. He notices the other people in the café and wonders how they handled the birthing process. When he goes back to Catherine, she is in tremendous pain. She keeps telling herself that she won’t die, and the doctor tells her she is being silly.
Henry waits down the hall. His thoughts lead him to ponder why sex brings such pain. Being married would not have lessened the pain. He fears that Catherine will die. He reminds himself that very few women die in childbirth anymore, but he again is afraid that Catherine will. The doctor comes out to tell him that the baby is not coming. There is the choice of a dangerous high forceps delivery or a Caesarean. He advises the latter as the safest route. Henry visits Catherine one last time before the operation. She is afraid that she will die.
After the delivery, the doctor brings the baby out. It is a boy, but Henry feels nothing. He notices that the baby is dark and does not respond to the doctor’s slapping. He goes to visit Catherine and tells her that they have a long, wide, dark son who looks like a skinned rabbit with a puckered, old man face. The nurse gives him a strange look. When Henry leaves Catherine’s room, he learns that the baby is dead, choked by its umbilical cord. In despair, he contemplates that everything leads to death. He goes to eat supper, but when he returns he learns that Catherine is hemorrhaging. He goes in to see her. She knows that she is going to die. She is not...
(The entire section is 527 words.)