Illustration of a man in a uniform

A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

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Chapter 20 Summary

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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.

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Chapter 19 Summary


Chapter 21 Summary