Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway|
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LITERARY CRITCISM FOR A FAREWELL TO ARMS BY HEMINGWAY
In this chapter, the plot seems suspended. Hemingway puts the lovers
in an almost domestic scene, perhaps to highlight the fact that this brief
happiness is going to end soon. Another character, Count Greffi, is introduced
here. He is an old gentleman and perturbed by the fact that he is an exception
to his family, which is devout. He corroborates Catherine’s idea that
love is religion. In this matter, he bears a close resemblance to the
priest in his thinking, though he is not religious. Both of them advocate
love that is pure and sacred whereas Rinaldi believes in profane love
and drunken one-night stands.
That night there was a storm and Henry awoke to hear the rain lashing
the windowpanes. The barman wanted to discuss a serious matter with him.
They went into the bathroom and Henry asked him if he was in trouble.
The barman said that Henry was in trouble and the police were going to
arrest him in the morning. They had noticed that Henry was in the hotel
before as an officer, but now, he was without a uniform. After the retreat,
they seemed to arrest everybody. The barman suggested that Henry go to
Switzerland to avoid being arrested. He offered his boat, which would
be all right even after the storm. Henry asked Catherine if she would
like to go straight to Switzerland in a boat. She accepted and packed
their bags. The barman took them out through the servant’s quarters. Catherine
thanked him, and he said he was glad to be of help. The porter offered
Henry an umbrella, Catherine took hers, and they went out in the pouring
rain. It was a cold, wet, and windy November night, and Henry knew it
was snowing in the mountains. The barman was at the shore of the lake
and handed over the boat to them. When Henry offered to pay for the boat,
the barman refused, saying that he could pay after reaching Switzerland
safely. He also gave them a packet of sandwiches, a bottle of brandy,
and a bottle of wine and accepted fifty lira as payment for them. The
barman told him that he should row the boat past Luino, Cannero, Cannobio,
and Tranzano and when he reached Brissago, after passing Mount Tamara,
he would be in Switzerland, which was thirty-five kilometers from Stresa.
Henry asked for a compass to guide them in the rain but the barman assured
that it was not necessary and that the wind would guide them. He wished
them luck and pushed the boat into the water.
Henry and Catherine’s blissful but brief idyll is over. Till now, they had a vague apprehension that the police would be after Henry, but now, they receive confirmation that they were and that arrest was imminent. Hence, they go to Switzerland because it remained neutral and would offer them sanctuary. It was just a convenient thirty-five kilometers from Stresa. The journey could have been exciting or pleasurable under other circumstances, but now, it was fraught with danger.
The barman is a friendly and helpful man. In fact, most characters in this novel are good, showing that human nature has its decent side too. That is why it surprises us when Henry insists that the world breaks and kills people, particularly the good, brave, and gentle. It seems Henry is not referring to people here but to the world, torn asunder by war.
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. 09 May 2017