Chapter 3 Summary
Henry spends the winter travelling around Italy. When he returns in the spring, he finds that the company still lives in the same town and in the same quarters. All is green now, and there are even some signs of green on the mangled mountain slopes. There are now more hospitals, along with more British men and women. Henry wanders the streets and finally comes back to the make-shift hospital where he and his comrades are housed. He goes to his room and finds his roommate, Lieutenant Rinaldi, asleep in bed. Rinaldi, a surgeon, greets Henry warmly when he awakens. He asks about Henry’s adventures. When Henry rattles off a list of towns he visited, Rinaldi complains that he sounds like a train schedule. Rinaldi asks where Henry met “her,” assuming there was a young lady somewhere along the adventure. He says that there are beautiful girls now in Gorizia, especially the English girls. Rinaldi announces that he is now in love with a Miss Barkley, whom he will probably marry.
Henry asks about the hospital work since he’s been gone. Rinaldi states that it is mostly small illnesses, discomforts, and diseases, with very few war wounds other than self-inflicted ones. But the war is scheduled to start the next week, so it will all start up again. He asks Henry if he thinks he should marry Miss Barkley after the war is over. Henry’s disinterested reply is “absolutely.”
As Henry washes up, Rinaldi tries to borrow fifty lire from him because he wants to make Miss Barkley believe that he is a man of “sufficient wealth.” Henry simply tells him to go to hell. In the mess hall that evening, Henry sits next to the priest, who is disappointed and hurt that Henry did not visit his family in Abruzzi. He had told them that Henry was coming, so they had prepared to receive him. Henry feels disappointed in himself and says, “We did not do the things we wanted to do.” As they talk amidst the buzz of conversation from the other officers, Henry reflects that he avoided any place where the winter lay heavy. He stayed near cafés and hotels, occasionally waking up with someone he did not remember. He does not share any of this with the priest, however, and the two of them are still friends despite the priest's disappointment. The captain once again begins tormenting the priest, first teasing him about girls and then alleging that he wants the Austrians to win (as he had said the pope wanted them to). The major tells the captain to leave the priest alone, that he is “all right.” The captain remarks that the priest cannot do anything about girls anyway.