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A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 1, Chapter 6 | Summary



After three days away at post, Henry returns and visits Catherine, who behaves strangely, treating him as if he has been away for months. She feeds him lines to repeat back to her, and despite thinking that she is "a little crazy," Henry plays along, even going so far as to say that he loves her. This shakes Catherine out of her act, and she apologizes. Henry tries to kiss her, and she puts up a fight before eventually relenting. Contradicting her earlier behavior, she will not let Henry put his arm around her, and when he tries she retires to her room for the evening.


Catherine's dramatic reaction to Henry's three-day absence highlights the emotional game she is playing. At first she comes across as truly crazy, chastising Henry for failing to send her a message that he would be gone and then declaring over and over, "I love you so." She tells him what to say as they act out a scene in which he returns to her in the night. Her behavior is bizarre, but Henry is up for the challenge, comparing their flirtation to bridge, a complicated card game. Catherine's mood changes later; she loses interest in the facade, and she tells Henry to drop his fake affections. She says that she is not crazy and that she knows Henry does not really love her. For her this game is a distraction from the depression of war and the broken heart she suffered after her fiancé's death. Henry is confused by the game but still wants to play. He is playing for the same reason, distraction, but it seems as if true feelings are beginning to take root.

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