A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 3, Chapter 25 | Summary

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Summary

Henry returns to the front lines. The road in is covered in wet leaves from the rain. The major tells him that it has been a terrible summer and that "it's all over." He even admits that, if he had been the one on leave, he probably would not have come back. Henry returns to his room. Shortly after Rinaldi joins him. The friends are happy to be reunited, but Rinaldi has become depressed over the summer, saying that the only things that bring him joy are surgery and sex. The two get drunk, despite Henry's jaundice. At dinner that night, Rinaldi starts out playfully teasing the priest as usual but breaks into an unexpectedly angry rant. His mood swings from high to low over the course of the meal, and it is revealed that he has syphilis.

Analysis

When Henry returns to the front, he walks through wet, dead leaves toward his unit, a symbolic reminder that the battlefield is a place of constant death. He does not recognize the ambulance drivers at his unit, a reminder that many men have been lost. Book 3 will spend a lot of time preparing the reader for Henry's desertion, placing emphasis on the length of the war, the terrible losses, and meaningless missions.

The war is affecting even the most buoyant and resilient men, such as Rinaldi. Rinaldi, once enlivened by battle, brutal surgeries, and casual sex, is depressed, angry, and sick. He still finds solace in work and women, but he has contracted syphilis, which has made him slightly mad. He drinks excessively, not caring about the outcome: "[Drink] ruins the stomach and makes the hand shake. Just the thing for a surgeon," he says sarcastically. With Henry's return Rinaldi perks up, trying to make the mess experience like it was before, a place for joking and camaraderie, but even a lighthearted suggestion by the priest produces a furious outburst from Rinaldi, showing just how different he has become.

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