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Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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LITERATURE NOTES FOR A FAREWELL TO ARMS BY HEMINGWAY

CHAPTER 39

Summary

By the middle of January, Henry had grown the beard, and winter had settled into bright cold days and hard cold nights. The road was clear now but snow lay over all the country, down almost at Montreux . The mountains on the other side of the lake were white and the Rhone plain was covered. Henry and Catherine took long walks on the other side of the mountain to the Bains d’Alliez. They were happy that they lived in a country where nothing made any difference. Then, she asked him how much money they had. Henry said he had enough because his family back in America had honored his request for money. He had left his family because he had quarreled with them. She said that his beard looked stiff and fierce, yet pleasant and soft. She did not want to have her hair cut until after the birth of the baby when she would became so lovely that he would again fall in love with her. Henry asked her if she wanted to ruin him; she agreed and he said that he wanted it too.


Notes

This chapter is a continuation of the previous one, insofar as the life of the lovers is concerned. The baby is not yet born. Except for the narrow hips that could make delivery difficult, everything is all right with Catherine. She in anxious to keep Henry happy and pleased. The degree to which she sacrifices herself for her husband without a similar action of Henry’s part is what makes the depiction of Catherine misogynistic and offensive.

There is a marked change in Henry’s attitude too. As time passes, he deliberately turns his back on the world and revels in the company of Catherine, but stops short of self-sacrifice.


CHAPTER 40

Summary

Time moved by and Henry and Catherine lived in the same cottage in the months of January and February. The winter was fine and they were happy. The snow softened a bit and it looked like spring. In March, it started raining and even the mountainside looked dismal as snow turned to slush. They decided to move to Lausanne. Catherine preferred Lausanne because it had a hospital. The baby was due in a month. Henry felt that since the winter was almost over, there was no point in staying in the mountain villa. They packed their bags, said good-bye, and took a train to Lausanne. In Lausanne, they went to a hotel. It was still raining. Catherine began unpacking while Henry ordered a whisky and soda and read the newspaper. It was March, 1918, and the German offensive had started in France. Meanwhile, Catherine said that she had to buy some baby clothes. Henry remarked that she should know what to buy because she had been a nurse. She replied that few soldiers had babies in the hospitals. Henry said that he did and was playfully hit by her. They had dinner in the room, some soup and two bottles of wine. Catherine felt that it was not too bad if she drank a little wine.

They stayed at the hotel for three weeks and it was not bad. The weather had now become quite warm. It was almost spring. Catherine bought the things she needed for a baby. Henry went to the gym while Catherine stayed in bed. Sometimes, they both went for carriage rides in the country. It was nice to ride when the days were pleasant, and they found two good places where they could ride out to eat. They had a splendid time. They knew that the baby was very close and it gave them both the feeling as though something was hurrying them and they could not lose any time together.

Notes

Henry and Catherine have the uncanny knack of making a home wherever they go. Whether it was a mundane hospital or a picturesque mountain villa or the most common hotel, their love turns it into a warm home. Again their happiness is short lived because both have the uneasy feeling that time is running out. As the countdown begins for the baby, so does it to their togetherness and happiness. Thomas Hardy, an English novelist wrote, “Happiness is an occasional episode in the general drama of pain.” This is uncannily true of Henry and Catherine.

The year was 1918 and the World War I was in full swing. Europe in particular was engulfed in war. Henry is not particular about what has happened in the war.

 

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