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Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 41

Summary

One morning, Henry woke up at three o’clock upon hearing Catherine stirring in the bed. She informed him that the pain had started. Henry told her if she had them regularly then they would go to the hospital. A little while later Catherine asked him to call up the doctor. The pains were coming once every fifteen minutes. The doctor told them to get to the hospital right away. Henry called the garage to send a taxi. No one answered the phone for a long time. Then, he finally got a man who promised to send up a taxi at once. Catherine packed her bag with her things and the things she had bought for the baby. Outside, Henry rang for the elevator but could not get it. He went downstairs but couldn’t find anyone except the night watchman. He brought the elevator up himself, put Catherine’s bag in it. They waited a while for the taxi. Catherine was happy that it would be over in a little while. At the hospital, a woman at the desk asked Catherine’s name, age, address and religion. In her answer Cathy said she had no religion and the woman drew a line in the space after the word. She was then given a room. Now the pains came quite regularly, which she termed as “fine.” Henry waited outside the room and prayed for her. She asked Henry to go get some breakfast and come back again. She was so exited that when the pains were bad, she called them good. Henry went to a cafe nearby and ordered a glass of wine and a brioche. The proprietor of the cafe wished him luck when he came to know that Henry’s wife was in labor at the hospital.

When Henry returned to the hospital, he found Catherine’s room empty. She was taken to the delivery room. As her pains were excruciating, the doctor had given her anesthesia. He informed Henry that things were going very well. Henry found Catherine’s voice very strange and she was moaning.


They had gone to the hospital about three o’clock in the morning. At noon, Catherine was in the delivery room. The pains had slackened again. She looked very tired and worn now but she was still cheerful. The pains, after sometime, started coming once every minute. The doctor showed Henry how to administer gas whenever she felt pains. Catherine was getting tired. She wondered whether she would ever have the baby. At two o’clock, Henry went out and had lunch. The streets were clean and the day was cloudy, but the sun was trying to come through. Inside the delivery room, the doctor sat by Catherine’s side. She said that the doctor was most wonderful and had been telling her a most story to make her forget the pains. She told him that she was not going to die, and that she was past the most dangerous part. Both Henry and the doctor admonished her from thinking of death at all. The doctor examined Catherine and decided that she could not deliver the child normally. It was beginning to get dark outside and Henry started reading the paper he had bought when he had gone out for lunch. Thoughts crowded into his mind and he felt extremely sorry for Catherine. He felt that that was the end of the trap, a price one paid for sleeping together, that was what people got for loving each other. He thanked god that anesthetics were available. Catherine had a trouble-free pregnancy but now “they” got her in the end. One never got away with anything. It would have been the same if they had been married fifty times. If Catherine died, then that would be the end. Nature was giving her hell. Henry is racked with anxiety, at times assuring himself that Catherine would not die and at times knowing clearly that she would. The doctor then came in and informed him that Catherine’s condition was bad and he would perform a Cesarean section operation.

After an hour, Catherine was taken into the operation room. They performed the operation and took out a boy. Henry felt the baby looked like a skinned rabbit with a puckered up old man’s face. It did not move or cry. It was dead because the umbilical cord was caught around its neck. Henry sat near Catherine, who looked out the window. He could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light from the window. He had no religion but he knew that the baby ought to have been baptized if he was living at the time of birth. But, he had never been alive, except in Catherine. For a week or so, he must have choked on the cord all the time. Whatever one did, one had to die, at one time or another.

A little while later, a nurse came and told Henry that Catherine was all right and he should go out and have dinner. It was raining. He ate and then walked back to the hospital. He met the nurse who told him that Catherine was hemorrhaging and that she was in dangerous condition. Henry started praying to god with all his heart. He went inside and found Catherine looking gray but still cheerful. He tried to tell her that she was not going to die, and she hated it. She was not afraid; she just hated the thought of dying because it was such a dirty trick. A little later, Catherine became unconscious. She had one hemorrhage after another and the doctor could not stop them. Henry stayed with her until she died. She was unconscious all the time and it did not take her long to die. Henry asked the nurses to get out and leave him alone with Catherine. But, it was no use staying there; it was like saying good-bye to a statue. After a while, he went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.

Notes

All along, throughout her pregnancy, Catherine had maintained excellent health but now she is dead. From the beginning of this chapter, everything seems to go wrong. First, there is a delay in getting a taxi and then in getting into the elevator. The hospital is on a hill, and now life seems an uphill journey. Again in the hospital, the question of Catherine’s religion comes up. Since love is not a religion, strictly speaking, there is a blank with a line drawn against it. The baby is stillborn and Catherine dies in the end. Until March, there was only snow but as Catherine goes for her delivery, the rain starts, warning the reader that disaster is just round the corner. It is as if everything goes up in a loud bang and smoke. Henry’s military and love life come to a grinding halt. He is a man broken at many places but it is hard to know whether he will be strong at all those places. However, unlike Catherine who dies, Henry lives and leaves her dead in the hospital.

 

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