Illustration of a man in a uniform

A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

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Chapter 31 Summary

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Henry continues to float down the river, afraid that camps would prevent his getting ashore. He considers taking off his clothes and boots but decides against it. He will need footwear when he reaches the shore, since he must walk to Mestre.

At last the timber he is floating with takes him near the shore. He climbs up and rests under the bushes. He manages to get to his feet and begins walking. He knows there is no bridge across the river nearby. Finding a concealed ditch, he takes off his clothes and dries off as much as he can. He has sufficient money for the time being, but he hopes he does not become ill from wearing damp clothes. It is still raining, and he has no cape. His pistol is also gone; he hides his holster under his coat. Coming to the road Henry sees troops coming but he continues limping along the side of the road. The troops pass and ignore him. He manages to cross the Venetian plain that day.

He comes to the main train track from Venice to Trieste. He sees a flag station with some soldiers on guard and another soldier at the bridge. He lies down, waiting for a train to come. He almost gives up hope but finally he hears a train coming. Henry looks at the guard on the bridge and realizes there will be guards on the train. Henry steps up to the train tracks. He sees a low open car covered with a canvas. As it passes, he jumps up between the cars onto the coupling. As he passes the guard on the bridge, Henry gives him a look of contempt, so the young soldier (wearing a helmet too big for him) thinks that he has some sort of job on the train.

After the train passes the guard, Henry cuts through the rope securing the canvas and feels inside. He sees a guard on the freight car ahead, so he climbs under the canvas. He bumps his head, cutting it badly. He feels blood pour over his face. He resecures the canvas. Looking around him, he sees that the car carries guns, sent ahead of the third army. Henry feels the cut on his head swelling. He waits until the blood has coagulated and then picks off the dried blood around the cut. He knows he will need to look inconspicuous when he gets off the train.

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Chapter 30 Summary


Chapter 32 Summary