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.