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Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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CHAPTER SUMMARY A FAREWELL TO ARMS BY HEMINGWAY

CHAPTER 19

Summary

Henry and Catherine spent the summer together. The Italians won many victories. Henry’s legs were getting better, and he was healthy. He underwent a lot of treatment and physical therapy to help his right knee recover. When he went out, the authorities did not allow a nurse to accompany him because he looked quite fit. Therefore, Catherine could not come out with him in the afternoons. Miss Van Campen, for some reason, believed that Catherine came from a good family, extracted a lot of work from her, and started liking her; thus, she chose to ignore her affair with Henry. The hospital was very busy too. The war showed no signs of abating, and more and more men came into the hospital. Henry wondered if this was going to be another Hundred Years War.

During the course of his outings, Henry met Mr. and Mrs. Meyers. Mrs. Meyers went to the races with her husband; she was big-busted and always wore black satin. She referred to the men in the hospital as her dear boys and carried gifts for them. Mr. Meyers was thin and short and had a white moustache. When he spoke to people, he usually looked through them. In addition to these two, Henry also met a vice-counsul, two fellows who studied singing, and Ettore Moretti, a San Franciscan of Italian descent who had joined the Italian army. One of the singers was Ralph Simmons but used the pseudonym of Enrico del Credo when singing. He was fat and looked rather shop-soiled. Ettore often made fun of him, claiming that people threw benches at him whenever he sang.

The other singer was Edgar Saunders and he sang as Eduardo Giovanni. Both singers had the dream of singing Tosca at la Scala. Ettore boasted that he had won bronze medals twice and silver, thrice, but the papers on only one had come through. He said that he was injured three times and was awarded three silver lines for it. He claimed that his foot was so badly injured that even that day, he removed new little pieces of broken bones that stank like hell.

He boasted that he was going to become a colonel before the war ended. Ettore was twenty-three but he neither boozed nor went to whores: he knew what was good for him. He was a legitimate hero, but he bored everyone he met. Catherine detested him. She thought that genuine war heroes were quieter. He was utterly conceited and he bored her.

On the contrary, Henry was not conceited and so, she felt “restful.” She referred to Ettore as a dreadful boy. She commented that Mr. and Mrs. Meyers were a strange lot and made fun of Mrs. Meyer’s habit of referring to everyone as “dear boys.” It was raining outside, and Catherine said that she was afraid of it, except when she was with him. When Henry asked for the reason she was afraid of the rain, she said that she saw herself dead in it. He admonished her not to be crazy; she started crying. He comforted her and she stopped crying, but the rain kept splashing incessantly outside.


Notes

In this chapter, we are introduced to a lot of comic, eccentric characters. Mr. Meyers was in a jail and later released when he was about to die. He then came to Milan to live. His wife was voluptuous and referred to the men as “dear boys.” Ettore is a young soldier and “braggadocio,” braggart. He is a brave soldier all right but because he insists on letting everyone know it, he becomes unpopular.

This chapter brings up the symbol of rain again, of which Catherine is afraid. The author intends to portray rain as a malevolent force, one that kills, and all major events from now on are going to happen while it is raining. The incessant rain at the end of this chapter signifies ominous things to come. It signifies the end of summer and thus, of the sun and the idyllic life of Henry and Catherine.


CHAPTER 20

Summary

One day in the afternoon, Henry and Catherine went to the horse races. They were accompanied by Ferguson and Crowell Rodgers. Rodgers was the boy who was hurt and wounded in the eyes by the exploding shell and admitted into hospital after Henry’s operation. Meyers liked Crowell and gave him tips.

The horse racing was very crooked. Men, blackballed elsewhere in the world, raced in Italy. Meyer won on nearly every race and gave tips to Crowell, provided he did not tell his wife. He himself never confided to his wife about the horses he was betting on, and she usually lost most races. She talked too much. They collected one hundred lira among themselves and bet on a horse named Japalac. This horse was to pay thirty-to-one and would bring thirty-five hundred lira to Henry. Eventually, the horse won the race, about fifteen lengths ahead of the others. But, at the last minute, somebody bet a lot of money on it, thereby bringing down the odds. Catherine and Ferguson found the race crooked and disgusting. Mr. Meyers refused a drink saying that he never drank. Catherine felt that she liked it better when she was alone with Henry. She went to the races only to please Henry; she would actually do anything he wanted. In general, they had a good time.

Notes

The entire chapter is devoted to horse races, which are, strictly speaking, irrelevant to the plot and its development. Catherine is as meek and submissive as ever. Whatever she does, she does only to please Henry. She feels claustrophobic amidst people but puts up with it because Henry loves people. In his turn, Henry is a fun-loving and gregarious man and loves the company of other people besides Catherine’s.

 

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