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Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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Henry was floating on the piece of timber. He hoped that he did not cramp, put his chin on the wood, and wished that he would reach the shore. He wondered if he should remove his boots and clothes and try to swim to the shore but he decided against it. Eventually, after a great deal of struggling, he did reach the bank of the river. The bank was deserted, and it started to rain again. His clothes, money, and papers were wet. So he wrung his clothes out put his three thousand lira in the inside pocket of his coat. He dressed and started to walk. All around him, the country was wet, low, and dismal. He crossed the fields and went north where he found a railroad track. He waited patiently alongside it for sometime and then saw a freight train coming. Keeping out of sight of the guards, he jumped onto the train. There was a young guard on the bridge who saw Henry. The guard assumed that Henry had something to do with the train and did not sound an alarm.

The freight cars were covered with canvas. Henry cut through it with a knife, crawled under, and felt something hard hit his forehead. Blood trickled on his and he discovered that he was lying on top of guns. He washed the gash in his forehead with rainwater. He knew that the guns would be unloaded at Mestre, and so he would have to get out before they got there. He was “terrifically hungry.”


From a responsible, quick-thinking officer, Henry turns into a fugitive, for no fault of his own. Once, Catherine had said that they had each other while “they” were against them. Ironically, her statement comes true, as Henry runs from the police.



Henry was cold, wet, and hungry. His knee was stiff but okay. He remembered Dr. Valentini, who had done the operation on his knee. He felt dismembered and confused in his thinking. Henry refused to think about Catherine because he thought he would go crazy if he did. He longed to see and lie beside her, but at that moment, he did not know when he would see her again. He thought that he would have to seek other employment now, if there was any other employment, and if the police did not get him.

His anger at the injustice handed to him by the police and his obligation to the army were washed out in the river. He no longer wanted to wear the uniform. He had taken off the stars on the collar, for convenience, not because of a sense of honor. He realized that he was not against them; he was just through with them. Other soldiers may be good, brave, calm, and sensible, but it was not for him anymore. Piani would tell them they had shot Henry and since they would not find the identification papers, they would assume that he drowned. He wondered what his colleagues would think about him. The priest and Rinaldi were now part of his memory; he would never go back and see them again. He wanted only to eat, drink, sleep with Catherine, and avoid thinking . They could get together and go someplace where they would not be found. There were many such places.


The entire chapter is stream of consciousness. Memories and wishing for the future tumble together in the painful present. Henry feels that his plunge into the river is a sort of absolution of duty, commitment, and even anger. He has turned his back permanently on the army. He was forced to become a deserter and he defiantly wishes to stay one.


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