Chapter 27 Summary
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 511
Henry wakes when Rinaldi comes in but does not speak to him, and Rinaldi does not wake the next morning when Henry leaves. Henry is headed to the Bainsizza, a region he has not seen before; it has been controlled by the Austrians until recently. The road he travels ends in a wrecked village, beyond which the razor-wire lines are in place. Although the buildings are destroyed, things seem to be well organized as a military encampment. Henry finds Gino, another ambulance driver, and goes with him to visit the different posts along the front. The British ambulance corps is working closer to the front. Gino has great admiration for the British.
The rains have started, so more ill soldiers are expected. The Austrians are expected to attack soon, but Gino does not believe it. Gino shows Henry some of the artillery, which he says look scary but are not that effective. As he says this, artillery sounds. He says it is no use being wounded if you are scared to death (meaning, there is no chance for a posthumous medal). At the moment, Croats are close to the front lines.
As Henry looks around the Bainsizza, he is surprised that it is not more like a plateau; rather, it is broken up. It will be difficult to defend. Gino tells Henry that food is scarce but he is not starving. However, enough food can make a big difference as to a soldier’s mental abilities. Gino speaks of patriotism, glory, and honor. Such words embarrass Henry. He is more in tune with tangible things like numbers and names.
The weather is cold and stormy. Artillery sounds from the Austrian side. During the middle of the night, the bombardment becomes intense, as does the weather. The wounded begin to come to the post, and Henry loads them onto the cars to take them down to the post hospitals set up in the few abandoned buildings that are still standing. Rain comes mixed with snow, but it does not accumulate and changes back to all snow when the morning comes. A rumor is spread that the German army is approaching. This fills the men with dread; the German army is much more powerful than the Austrian troops they are currently fighting. They are to retreat. Henry asks how all of the wounded are to be evacuated. He is told that all of them won’t be, but they will carry out as many as they can. They begin to evacuate the field hospitals. Henry sees the prostitutes from the officers’ whorehouse also being removed.
When Henry returns to Gorizia, he finds the villa where he is staying empty. Rinaldi has gone to the hospital. There is a note for Henry to fill the cars with the material piled in the hall. Henry and the other drivers do some basic necessary maintenance on the cars and carry the supplies to the hospital. They are all sleepy, but they finish emptying the villa of material, and they sleep in it for the final time.