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Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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PLOT SUMMARY FOR A FAREWELL TO ARMS SYNOPSIS

CHAPTER 37

Summary

Henry kept rowing all night. The rain head stopped but it was a windy and cold. He knew his hands would blister but he had no choice. The boat was thankfully light and rowed easily. The weather was quite rough. Catherine offered to take the oars for a while but Henry refused. She said that Ferguson would come to the hotel in the morning and find them gone. Henry replied that he was not worrying about that, but about getting to the Swiss part of the lake before daylight when the customs guards could see them. He kept fairly close to the shore because he had rowed continuously, and his arms, shoulders, and back ached and his hands were sore. Catherine offered to assist; he asked her if she could steer. She could and Henry tried to use the big umbrella as a sail but the gushing wind broke it. Catherine gave him a drink of brandy. She herself was feeling warm, but stiff. They saw a long, high headland about eight miles away from Switzerland and Henry guessed that they must be near Cannobio now. Catherine again offered to row and Henry thought it was bad for a pregnant woman. However, she said moderate rowing would be good for her. He cautioned her not to let the oar strike her in the stomach. She replied that life would be much simpler if it did. By daylight, there was slight drizzle but it did not bother them much. Just then, they heard a motorboat on the lake. There were four guards in it, but they did not see them. It was daylight and raining again. They reached the customs town of Brissago, which was nice looking, cheerful, and clean, even with the rain. They went into a cafe and felt very elated to be in a grand, clean country like Switzerland. They felt that even the rain in that country was fine and cheerful, unlike in Italy. Even if the police arrested them, it would not matter because they were British and American citizens of good standing.

The Swiss police arrested them after breakfast and questioned them closely. Henry said that he was a sportsman and rowing was his great sport. They had their passports, British and American and they had come to Switzerland via Brissago to take part in winter sports. Henry said that he was a student of architecture and Catherine, his “cousin,” studied art in Italy. The police told them that they were going to be sent to Locarno and that their boat was confiscated. They were impressed with the amount of money Catherine and Henry had and became less haughty in their manner. One of the police, a lieutenant, recommended Wengen as a place for winter sport. The police kept their passports and sent them to Locarno under police escort. At Locarno, they were treated politely because they had passports and money. They did not believe Henry’s story but did not press him too hard. They issued them provisional visas, which could be withdrawn at any time. They could go anywhere in Switzerland but they were to report to the police wherever they went.

Catherine and Henry decided to go to Montreux. Catherine had said Montreux because that was the first place she could think of. Henry gave the soldier who accompanied them from Brissago a ten-lira note. His hands were blistered and raw and she sympathized with him. They then drove to the Hotel Metropole and went in.

Notes

A sense of thrill, adventure, and suspense marks this chapter. The incessant rain that falls throughout their journey is ominous. Things seem a little brighter when Switzerland appears as a safe haven for the lovers, including the “cheerful and fine” rain. However, this is not to be and tragedy strikes them soon enough.



BOOK V

CHAPTER 38

Summary

That winter, the snow came very late. Henry and Catherine lived in a small cottage in the mountains. Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen were the owners of the cottage and took a great deal of interest in the couple. Outside, in front of the chalet, a road went up the mountains. There were pine forests and they loved walking in the woods.

When the sun was bright, they had lunch on the porch, but the rest of the time, they ate in the room. They bought many books and magazines, played cards, and were generally very happy. Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen lived downstairs and were a happy couple too. He was a head waiter at a hotel, where she worked as a maid. They had a son who was studying to be a head waiter. The war seemed distant now but they heard that fighting was still continuing.

Sometimes, Henry and Catherine took a walk down the mountain into Montreux. There was a path that went down the mountain. But it was steep so they usually took the road. They did not know anybody in Montreux. There were several big hotels, which were usually closed, but the shops were open. Catherine would go to have her hair done, while Henry went to a bar, drank beer, and read the papers.

They were happy. They hoped that their child would be small. They wondered if they ought to be married. Catherine refused to get married when she looked so big and “matronly.” She promised to marry when she was thin again. She told him that the doctor was unhappy with her narrow hips and it would be best if the baby was very small. Her blood pressure was normal. She said that she would be an American if she married him and their child would be legitimate. She wanted to go to America and see the Niagara Falls.

Three days before Christmas, snow started falling. It was a heavy snow storm.. Henry and Catherine took a walk in the snow before lunch. Catherine asked Henry if he missed the company of other men; he said no. Since she was going to have a child, she was content, but she felt that it was different with Henry. However, he assured her that he wanted to stay with her. She suggested that he should grow a beard. She asked him if he felt bored with her and he replied that it was not so and that she had a good wife. She asked him again and again if they would have a good life together. They decided to play chess since it was still snowing hard outside.

Once in the night, Henry woke up to see Catherine awake too. She reminded him that she was crazy when they first met but she was no longer so now. She was very happy.

Notes

There is a tremendous change in Catherine’s character. At first she appears crazy with grief over her childhood sweetheart’s death. As the novel progresses, she appears neurotic and very anxious to please Henry and reassure him that she was a good wife. Now she is content because she is pregnant and has Henry. Hemingway has created a completely dependent “heroine.” All she needs is to be the sacrificial, martyred wife and mother.

 

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