A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 3, Chapter 26 | Summary



After dinner the priest joins Henry in his room, and they discuss the war. The conversation focuses on which would be better, defeat or victory. The priest mentions that the men have changed and that he believes the war will end soon, although he is unsure why he believes this.


The conversation between Henry and the priest highlights what happens when men are forced to sustain a long war they no longer believe in. The priest comments that, faced with horrific and ongoing loss since their many defeats this summer, the men have become "gentle." Many of the men, including Henry, do not believe in God or the war, which means they are left believing in nothing. Those who have not become gentle have become bitter, like Rinaldi. The priest believes that the war cannot continue this way forever, but neither he nor Henry cares if the war ends in Italy's defeat or victory. Religion cannot save anyone from the heartbreak of war, even a priest. This illustrates how war-weary the men have become and how profound their disillusionment is after a summer and fall of heavy losses.

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