A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 2, Chapter 14 | Summary

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Summary

When Henry wakes, an Italian barber visits and gives him a rough shave after mistaking him for an Austrian. The barber also refuses to answer any of Henry's questions or take a tip: "I am not at the front. But I am an Italian." Later Catherine arrives. She and Henry declare their love for each other and have sex in the hospital bed. She worries that they will be caught, but Henry promises to be careful.

Analysis

Henry's visit from the barber intensifies his feelings of isolation. Even though he and the barber are on the same side, Henry is treated like an enemy. Because he is not Italian, he will never fully belong, a fact that even the priest, one of his good friends, admits in Chapter 9: "You are not even an Italian. You are a foreigner."

When Catherine arrives Henry is struck by his emotion for her: "When I saw her I was in love with her." Hemingway uses a subtle technique, much like a stage curtain closing and opening, in this chapter to show the passing of time, and he alludes to sex without describing the act. Hemingway is famous for this tactic, most notably in his short story "Hills like White Elephants," in which a young couple discusses abortion without ever mentioning the word.

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