Illustration of a man in a uniform

A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

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Chapter 36 Summary

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During the night, it begins to storm, and rain comes through the open window. Henry is awakened by a knock on the door. It is Emilio, the barman, who tells Henry that he overheard talk in town that Henry will be arrested in the morning. Henry asks innocent questions, such as why they are arresting him, though he knows it is for desertion. The barman says that since the retreat they are arresting everyone who happens to be out of uniform.

The barman suggests that Henry go to Switzerland to escape arrest. He offers his own boat, but Henry protests that it is storming. The barman says that the storm is over, but the lake is still rough. Henry wakes Catherine and tells her of the barman’s news. She agrees to leave immediately for Switzerland. She has Henry turn away while she gets dressed because she feels uncomfortable about his seeing her naked now that her pregnancy is beginning to show.

Leaving the hotel, Henry tells the porter that they are just going out for a walk in the rain (at eleven o’clock at night). The porter gives Henry an umbrella since he does not have one; Catherine has her own. Henry pays him and promises to be back. At the dock the barman has placed their bags in the boat. Henry promises to pay him for the boat when they get to Switzerland. The barman refuses any money until that time. He gives them some sandwiches, brandy, and wine for the trip. He gives them directions to reach Switzerland. Henry is nonplussed to discover that it is thirty-five kilometers away. If they row constantly through the night, they should reach safety by seven o’clock the next morning. Henry is concerned that they might get lost without a compass, since the sky is still overcast and rainy. The barman assures them that the wind will take them to Pallanza. When Henry worries that the wind will change, the barman tells them that the wind will blow constant for three days. He asks if Henry left money for the hotel room, and Henry assures him that he did. The barman wishes them good luck, and Henry thanks him. The barman tells him he can thank him if he doesn’t drown. Since they were speaking Italian, Catherine has not understood their conversation and asks what he said. Henry tells her that he simply wished them good luck. Henry begins rowing and they head out into the lake, driven by the wind.

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