A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)

A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway (1899
- 1961)

Type of Work:

Psychological realism


Italy and Switzerland; World War I

Principal Characters

Fyederic Henry, an American in the Italian

Catiteritte Barkley, a British nurse

Rinaldi, an Italian surgeon and Frederic\'s

Miss Ferguson, a British nurse and Catherine\'s

Story Overveiw

Lieutenant Frederic Henry, a handsome
young American, had returned from leave in southern Italy to the front,
where he served in the Italian ambulance corps. The war was still leaning
toward victory for the Italians. During dinner, Lieutenant Rinaldi, Frederic\'s
jovial surgeon friend needled Frederic about his youth and lack of experience
with women, then sprang his surprise: A group of British nurses had arrived
to set up a hospital unit nearby, and Rinaldi had become friends with a
nurse, Catherine Barkley. He begged Frederic to come with him to meet Miss

Barkley and help make a "good impression" on her.

Frederic was impressed by Catherine so
impressed that he, instead of Rinaldi, began romancing the nurse. Catherine
and Frederic bantered back and forth to hide their mutual attraction, and
the good-natured Rinaidi then couldn\'t help but tease Frederic about his
new lady love.

Soon afterwards, while Frederic was on
ambulance duty in the combat zone, an Austrian mortar shell exploded over
his unit and scattered shrapnel through Frederic\'s legs, turning them into"hamburger." He was transported to Milan to heal and rehabilitate his wounded
legs \' Fortunately, Catherine was also soon transferred to Milan. During
the day, Frederic worked diligently on the therapy machines to regain full
use of his limbs, but the hot summer niglits were spent by the reunited
lovers on Frederic\'s hospital bed, with a hidden stash of wine. With Frederic
improving in health, they managed to be together constantly - there were
carriage rides in the park, horse races, dinners at street-side cafes.

By summer\'s end Frederic\'s legs were completely healed and he was slated
for return to his ambulance corps. But on their last night together, Catherine
disclosed her news: she was pregnant.

Frederic returned to the front with orders
to move hospital equipment south into the Po Valley - a familiar mission.

By now, though, the war\'s complexion had changed. Italian forces had lost
several key battles, and rumors circulated that the Austrians, along with

German reinforcements, were about to mount a new attack. All of Frederic\'s
friends were weary of war. Morale was sinking day by day. Surgeons, including

Rinaldi, operated around the clock. "This war is killing me," Rinaldi told

Frederic. "All summer and fall I\'ve operated. I do everybody\'s work." Furthermore,

Rinaldi admitted, he suspected that he had contracted syphilis. Rinaldi\'s
condition confirmed to the despondent Frederic that one way or another
this war was making everyone ill.

The fierce Austrian assault forced the
demoralized Italians to begin their muddy retreat from Caporetto. Driving
three ambulances cross-country to avoid the miles of stalled vehicles and
guns lined up on the highways, Frederic and his comrades became lost on
the back roads, where their vehicles mired in the thick, wet silt. Forced
to travel on foot towards Udine, they ducked Austrian patrols and nervous

Italian sentries who shot at anything that moved. After one of their group
was killed by a sniper, they hid in barns and fields, part of a frantically
retreating mob. Finally, the ragged group made their way to the Italian
border. But as they crossed a check point, an Italian military policeman
wrenched Frederic out of the line. A firing squad had been set up to execute
accused spies and deserting Italian officers, who were cutting their insignias
from their sleeves in order to flee. Spies and deserters were being put
to death after the most cursory of trials. On that dark night, Frederic
decided that the war was over for him; it was time to say his "farewell
to arms." While the guards were busy dragging another poor victim to face
death in front of the firing squad, Frederic scrambled away and plunged
into an icy river. As the current swept him along, Frederic\'s frozen fingers
clutched a timber which he used as a float until he floundered up onto
a riverbank several miles downstream.

Frederic was now a defector. He stole onto
a train bound for Milan, hiding beneath a tarp so the guards would not
see him. He would find Catherine, he decided, and together, they would
escape to Switzerland.

However, when he arrived in Milan Frederic
discovered that Catherine had gone to Strega, a town on the border between

Italy and Switzerland. He borrowed some civilian clothing from an American
friend in Milan and caught a train to Strega, where he found