Illustration of a man in a uniform

A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

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Chapter 13 Summary

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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.

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Chapter 12 Summary


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