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A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

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Chapter 19 Summary

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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.

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