A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 1, Chapter 3 | Summary



Lieutenant Henry returns to Gorizia after leave. Everything is exactly as he left it, which surprises him. The only change is that there are now more British citizens in town. Henry's roommate, Lieutenant Rinaldi, is only interested in hearing about Henry's sexual exploits, and he reveals that he has fallen in love with a British nurse, Miss Barkley, while Henry was away.

At dinner that evening, the priest expresses disappointment that Henry did not visit Abruzzi, his hometown. Henry is apologetic and struggles to understand why he did not travel there even though he had wanted to meet the priest's family.


Henry's concern that nothing has changed in his absence makes him wonder what he is actually contributing to the war and alerts the reader to the theme of disillusionment. The reader learns almost nothing of Henry's activities during leave, except that he chose to visit the bustling cities' brothels and cafés rather than the quiet village of Abruzzi. Henry appears to be at a spiritual crossroads. Abruzzi represents a "high life": a beautiful setting that promotes inner reflection and philosophical thought. It is also the hometown of the priest, which furthers its spiritual significance. The cities he visited, including Milan, Rome, and Naples, represent the "low" life, filled with drinking, prostitution, and escaping reality. These cities were recommended by Rinaldi, which increases their representation of worldly pleasures.

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