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A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 1, Chapter 11 | Summary



The priest visits Henry in the hospital, bearing gifts of mosquito netting, vermouth, and English newspapers. He is slightly embarrassed to be there because he is depressed, an emotion he does not feel is appropriate in light of Henry's injury. The two men drink and talk about the terrible nature of war. The priest admits wishing he could return home to Abruzzi, where it is not considered "dirty" to love God. Henry admits that he is afraid of God and that he as never loved anything. The priest assures him that one day he will and that it will provide a happiness deeper than he has ever experienced.


Even the priest, an "elevated" man, questions his purpose in the war. His spiritual strength is weakening, and he questions why he is there. The taunting from the soldiers and grisly losses are getting the better of him, and he is losing heart. He visits Henry both to give and to receive support. The priest believes Henry is lacking someone to truly love the way the priest loves God—the kind of love, the priest says, "you wish to sacrifice for." Henry does not think he has ever experienced love, but the reader can safely assume that his relationship with Catherine will build toward this. Henry is not a spiritual man, so love will become his religion.

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