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A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

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Chapter 18 Summary

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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.

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