A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 1, Chapter 8 | Summary



Henry is sent to Plava with his ambulance in preparation for an attack that night. While driving to the front, Henry stops at the British hospital to see Catherine. She gives him her St. Anthony medal and asks him not to say good-bye.


Catherine asks Henry not to say good-bye because it feels too final for her. Catherine has an understanding of life and death and the delicate balance between them on the battlefield, wisdom that Henry does not yet possess. He tells Catherine there is "a show" at the front; the word choice continues the false sense of reality and suggests that the battle will be entertainment from his daily monotony. Despite his own religious doubts, Henry agrees to wear the St. Anthony medal. St. Anthony is best known as the patron saint of returning lost items and missing persons, but he is also the patron saint of miracles. In describing the scene, Henry tells the reader, "After I was wounded I never found him," meaning he lost the medallion. This statement serves two purposes: It alerts the reader to the action that will soon follow. It also, with its casual tone, speaks to Henry's lack of faith in religious symbols.

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