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Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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The priest came to visit Henry at dusk the same day. He looked embarrassed and tired. Henry asked him how the mess was, and the priest replied that thankfully all was well and he was still the favorite butt of all jokes. He confessed that he missed Henry. Out of concern for him, he brought a mosquito netting, a bottle of vermouth, and some English papers. They shared a glass of vermouth. Henry asked if the priest was tired of the war. The priest told him that he hated war, just as Henry did. The priest told him that since Henry was a foreigner, fighting a war that did not belong to him, he was a patriot, whereas he himself was not. Henry hoped that the war would end soon, and the priest remarked that he would love to return to Abruzzi and be a man of God, without being embarrassed by it. The priest then proceeded to distinguish between lust and love. Lust is merely passion and animal-like. Love demands duty, sacrifice, and service. If Henry loved truly, he told him, he would be truly happy. He feigned ignorance about love for a woman because he had not loved any woman except for his mother. He then bid farewell and left him.


The contrast between the characters of Rinaldi and the priest is brought out very clearly in this chapter. In keeping with Rinaldi’s bubbly and effervescent character, the previous chapter is light and frothy. This chapter, however, deals with the serious issue of love in its various forms. The priest is sincere and grave. He is very much a family man, but he is equally a man of God. His simple belief in God almost always is a great assistance and relief to him. He believes in the virtues of service, sacrifice, and self-denial which men of the world like Henry and Rinaldi do not agree with. Rinaldi is talkative, demonstrative, and frank to admit his lust for girls; the priest operates on a much higher and value-filled plane.



In the field hospital, Henry’s bed was among many beds lined against the wall, to the right of which were a series of windows. When somebody died, a screen was put around the bed and the remaining patients got to see only the doctor’s shoes moving back and forth. There would be whispered conversations, a priest would go in, and later, male nurses carried away the blanket-covered body. Then, the screen would be taken away.

The doctors at the hospital were anxious to move Henry to a hospital in Milan where there were better x-ray facilities, good surgeons, and therapy. There was new American hospital in Milan that catered to Americans wounded in Italy. The United States had declared war on Germany, and Henry predicted that President Wilson would shortly declare war on Austria too. The Italians would be at an advantage, since Austria was their enemy too. Henry got drunk with Rinaldi and the major who had come to see him. Forty-eight hours later, Henry was shifted to the American hospital in Milan. Catherine too would go to that hospital as a nurse.


Henry and Catherine now reach Milan, and there will be progress in their love story. Many realistic details of war and war hospitals are expertly presented in this chapter. The conversation between the major, Rinaldi, and Henry are recorded as they talk. They talk of wine, food, politics, women, hospital life, nurses, and life in cities.


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