Illustration of a man in a uniform

A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

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Chapter 9 Summary

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As the convoy comes down the mountain, they drive through a matting-covered tunnel to protect them from the sight of the Austrians across the river. They go to a brickyard where they will wait for incoming wounded soldiers. In the dugout there, Henry meets a major and other officers who predict that they will suffer a barrage of shells. Henry goes in search of some food for the ambulance drivers because they will not have a chance to eat once the fighting starts. He talks with some of the mechanics, who speak of how they hate the war. There is no victory in winning a war, they say, and they tell Henry of some of the atrocities. They feel guilty talking negatively to the American, but they feel they can trust Henry.

In the night, Henry can see searchlights in the sky. There is news that the attack has been pushed forward an hour, now back an hour. Henry still searches for some food. At last he is given a piece of cheese, which he takes back to the dugout and shares it with the others, who have some pasta to go with it.

Suddenly Henry hears a loud roar and feels himself floating out of himself. He hears screaming and crying. When he regains his sense of reality, he sees that Passini, one of the other ambulance drivers, has had his legs blown off. Henry tries to stop the bleeding but Passini dies before he is able to do so. As he sits up, he is suddenly aware of intense pain in his legs. He looks down and sees that his knee is not where it belongs but down in his shin. People come to carry him to the ambulances. He informs them that Passini is dead. The drivers drop him twice before they can get him into the ambulance. He tells them to take care of the more seriously wounded before him.

When the ambulances get down to the dressing station, a British doctor examines Henry. He sees superficial wounds on one leg but massive wounds on the other. He tells the Italians that Henry is the son of Woodrow Wilson (President of the United States at the time of World War I), then tells them that he is the son of the American ambassador. The doctor takes special care of him, though he asks questions to make sure that the wounds are not self-inflicted. It is determined that he also has a fractured skull. As they drive back to town, Henry feels something dripping on him. He realizes that the patient in the bunk above him is bleeding. He informs the drivers, but they say that they cannot stop until they get down the mountain. The man dies before they reach the hospital.

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