A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 2, Chapter 19 | Summary

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Summary

Henry begins therapies to heal his leg and enable him to return to the front. Once he is off crutches, it is more difficult to sneak around town with Catherine because they can no longer feign a platonic nurse-patient relationship. Henry reads newspapers to keep up with the war, and he frets over how long the war will continue. While buying Catherine chocolates one afternoon, Henry strikes up a conversation with three Italian captains, including Ettore Moretti, a boring braggart who talks incessantly of his heroics and valor on the battlefield. That evening Catherine admits to fearing the rain.

Analysis

Although Hemingway has negative feelings toward war, A Farewell to Arms is not entirely an antiwar novel. Despite disillusionment about glory, there are true heroes, as seen in the character of Ettore Moretti, a decorated captain who brags about his battlefield exploits, including kills, injuries sustained, and paths toward promotion. Henry describes Moretti as "a legitimate hero who bored everyone he met." In the novel legitimate heroes, such as Moretti, are not modest or likeable, suggesting that war can bring out the worst in the brave too.

This chapter solidifies rain as a symbol for death when Catherine admits that "sometimes I see me dead in it ... and sometimes I see you dead in it." At the end of this chapter, Henry is able to comfort Catherine in her fears but is unable to stop the rain, just as he is unable to stop the inevitability of death.

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