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A Farewell to Arms | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms | Book 3, Chapter 28 | Summary



Henry's unit travels through a town deserted during the retreat. Along the way Bonello picks up two sergeants separated from their unit. In the other car, Aymo has picked up two terrified local teenage girls. When their cars get stuck in the mud, they stop at an abandoned farmhouse to scavenge breakfast. One of the sergeants tries to steal a clock from the house, but Henry makes him put it back. Worried that the Austrians are getting close, they return to the cars and continue their retreat.


The teenage girls provide insight into the terror of war for locals. The girls obviously want to get out of town before the enemy arrives, but they are terrified that the soldiers escorting them out will rape them. This chapter touches on the rape and pillaging that was commonplace during the war. Aymo has clearly picked up the young girls with the intention of sleeping with them, yet he does not understand why they are so afraid: "[Aymo] put his hand on the girl's thigh. ... The girl drew her shawl around her and pushed his hand away." Likewise, the sergeant does not even try to hide his crime, which suggests that it was commonplace and accepted. Henry makes him put the clock back, reminding the reader that he is a moral character, an important reminder before he kills the sergeant in the next chapter.

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