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A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 1, Chapter 5 | Summary



Henry investigates a new road, knowing that as soon as it is finished the offensive will start again. After dinner he visits and flirts with Catherine. Again they discuss the war, and Henry tries to kiss her. At first she recoils, slapping him across the face, but eventually she relents and kisses him. Henry returns to his bunk, where Rinaldi teases him for his infatuation.


Henry and Catherine's relationship progresses quickly. Catherine transfers her unprocessed emotions from her dead fiancé to Henry. She speaks grandiosely of their relationship despite the fact that they have only met twice: "Oh, darling ... we're going to have a strange life." She seems to be planning a future with Henry, who is only interested in bedding her. War is isolating, and Catherine, who has just experienced a great loss, clings to Henry to avoid grief. Until now Henry had been distanced from his emotions, a necessity in war. He was able to stoically speak about death and to sleep with prostitutes without emotional attachment. When he returns to his bunk, even Rinaldi notices that Henry's emotional guard is weakening.

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