Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway|
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A FAREWELL TO ARMS PLOT SUMMARY ANALYSIS
This chapter introduces the theme of love, while war occupies the forefront.
We now have the name of the narrator, Mr. Frederic Henry. He has a casual
attitude towards Catherine at this stage, whereas she starts to genuinely
love him. In fact, Henry seems to be confused about his own feelings.
By the end of this chapter, we know the nationalities of several characters
in this novel. Henry is an American, serving in the Italian ambulance
unit. Catherine is English, Miss Helen Ferguson is Scottish, and Rinaldi
is an Italian surgeon. With a deft stroke, Hemingway makes his protagonist
an ambulance driver, so that he can report events of the battle with a
Henry was away for two days, attending his duty near the front. As soon
as he returned, he went and met Catherine. He had to wait for her in the
hospital. He had carried his gun as if it were mandatory to carry one.
He kept it flopping against the small of his back and almost never had
to use it. When Catherine came, they went out into the garden. She blamed
him for going away without notice and staying away for a long time. He
replied that it was the third day since their last meeting. Catherine
asked him if he loved her and he lied that he did. She asked him to repeat
the line, “I’ve come back to Catherine in the night,” and promise her
not to go away again. She expressed her own deep love for him. Henry kissed
her twice. He wondered if she was a little crazy. He found that it was
better, coming to Catherine, rather than going every evening to the brothel
house for officers. He was quite sure that he did not love Catherine,
nor could he say, at that moment, that he would love her in the future.
For him, love was a game; a game of wits like chess and a game of bridge,
which one plays for stakes. In this case, however, nobody mentioned what
the stakes were, nor did Henry care. Meanwhile, Catherine was immersed
in her own thoughts and presently, she came back from where she had been.
She startled him by saying that they are both playing a dirty game, a
rotten game: she was truly in love and he was only pretending. Henry asked
her if she was usually so perceptive and she replied no. He kissed her
again and promised her that he would visit her often and he would be very
good to her. Then, she went inside the hospital and he returned to his
Villa, to be again teased by Rinaldi, who said that he was thankful that
he did not get involved with the English.
As the story starts taking brisk steps, the reader is made aware of the protagonist’s dilemma. He has a casual, even lackadaisical, interest both in love and in war. At this stage in the novel, he is just an average man. And Catherine also makes the reader uneasy at this juncture; she is still a puzzle. Her sudden outbursts of weeping, followed by laughing, and her “crazy” way of talking make us wonder if she is mad. She is bordering on paranoid about her beloved leaving her. She often lapses into daydreams. Emotionally, she is a frail woman and when she suffers from a physical trauma (like pregnancy), she is sure not to recover from it.
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. 09 May 2017