A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 2, Chapter 22 | Summary

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Summary

The next morning it is raining hard, and Henry is wet when he returns to his hospital room. Miss Van Campen waits for him. She has found his empty alcohol bottles. Enraged, she accuses Henry of self-inflicting jaundice as a means of avoiding returning to the front. She causes his leave to be revoked, and Henry learns that he must return to the front as soon as his jaundice clears.

Analysis

Rain as a symbol of death is reinforced in this chapter. The same evening Henry learns that Catherine is pregnant, rain comes down so heavily it blows open the balcony doors, as if it is trying to force itself into the hospital room. The morning after Henry learns that Catherine is pregnant, it rains hard enough to soak Henry when he goes outside. This, along with Catherine's statement in the previous chapter that the brave "die, of course," menacingly foreshadows Catherine's and the baby's deaths.

Miss Van Campen has disliked Henry from the moment he arrived at the hospital. She seems to relish confronting him about the bottles and getting his leave revoked. She is the first to outright accuse Henry of being an alcoholic. Miss Van Campen's accusation of escapism is true, but Henry drinks to avoid reality, not necessarily to avoid returning to the front. Henry compares the pain of jaundice to a kick in the scrotum. Used as an example to prove Henry's innocence, the image suggests an insult to masculinity—both Henry's and Hemingway's ideal. However, the fact that Miss Van Campen still does not believe Henry after he makes such a bold argument further exemplifies the lengths some soldiers would go through in order to avoid combat.

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