A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms Summary and Analysis of Book Two, Chapters XIX-XIV

Book Two: Chapter XIX:

Henry soon walks with a cane. He wants to spend as much time as possible with Catherine. The war takes a terrible toll on both sides, especially on the Western front. One day he has a drink with Ettore Moretti, an Italian-American in the Italian army, and Ralph Simmons, an opera singer. Ettore boasts about the medals he has won in combat, his war injuries, and his upcoming promotion to captain.

Later, Henry and Catherine talk on his balcony. It rains and they go inside. Catherine admits she is afraid of the rain: "'...sometimes I see me dead in it...And sometimes I see you dead in it.'" She cries, and Henry comforts her while it rains.


Hemingway makes the most explicit statement about the destructive properties of water through Catherine's drawn-out explanation about her fear of rain. Water intrudes upon happiness, leads to inevitable tragedy, and inspires fear in the novel's characters. While we do not know if the rain has something to do with the death of Catherine's fiancé, statements like this indicate she withholds much of her grief in Henry's comforting presence.

Ettore is the opposite of Henry in their attitude towards war. Ettore loves the honor of medals and high ranks, while Henry does not care about either. Clearly, we are meant to side with Henry's views.

Book Two: Chapter XX:

Henry goes to the horse races with Catherine, Helen and her date, and an elderly man, Myers, and his wife. Myers wins frequently when betting on the fixed races, but does not like to give tips as it brings down the prices. The four young people bet on a long shot that wins, but crooked betting brings down the odds. For the next race, Myers gives them a tip. They bet on the horse and it wins, but it hardly pays off. Catherine wants to bet on a horse without Myers's help. It loses, but she does not mind. She and Henry spend some time alone before rejoining the others.


This chapter fleshes out Catherine's character beyond her submissive, slightly insane behavior we have previously witnessed. Her morals are strong; she does not approve of the crooked horse racing, and would rather take a chance on an unknown horse that loses than win through an inside tip.

The bond between Henry and Catherine also deepens in the reader's eye, as this is the first time we see them socialize with others besides Helen. They value their time apart from the crowd, though they are not selfish lovers who cannot handle socialization.

Book Two: Chapter XXI:

September passes. The Allied war effort is loses ground and, though every army is hurt, the Italian army is especially decimated. Henry receives three weeks' convalescent leave, then he has to return to the front at the end of October. He reads some personal letters and baseball news from home. He tells Catherine about his leave, and she says she will go wherever he goes. She tells him she is three months' pregnant. They feel self-conscious at first, then resume their loving ways and promise not to fight, as they are a team against the rest of the world. Henry says "'The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one,'" but they cannot remember who said it; regardless, Catherine thinks the brave "'dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he's intelligent. He simply doesn't mention them.'"


The quote Henry refers to is from Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar," and reads correctly as "Cowards die many times before their deaths; / The valiant never taste of death but once" (II.ii.32-33). The quote exemplifies Henry's quiet bravery in the face of danger; unlike the blustery Ettore, Henry handles complications in his life with calmness and assurance, like Caesar. However, Henry does not know that Caesar spoke the quote, and thus he does not realize the implicit irony - Caesar is murdered soon after he makes this profound statement. For the reader who catches this allusion, disaster looms on the horizon for Henry and Catherine.

Still, they are a close-knit team, and her pregnancy only temporarily rattles Henry when he admits he feels somewhat trapped. In the developing theme of loyalty, Henry and Catherine pledge to remain loyal to each other, for, as Catherine points, it is the two of them versus the world.

Book Two: Chapter XXII:

It rains heavily and Henry gets wet. He gets sick, and the next morning is diagnosed with jaundice. He is sick for two weeks and does not go on convalescent leave as planned. One day while he is in bed, Miss Van Campen finds all his empty alcohol bottles. Eager to capitalize on her long-standing disapproval of Henry, she accuses him of inflicting the jaundice upon himself by drinking so much. Henry notes that giving oneself jaundice is as unpleasant a sensation as a "'kicking'" oneself "'in the scrotum.'" She leaves in anger and takes away Henry's leave.


This short, somewhat humorous chapter again glorifies masculinity. Although Henry is not the ideal soldier, he bears his wounds, both physical and emotional, with an admirable stoicism. His comparison of jaundice to the sensation of a kick in the scrotum is comic but important; though the war tries its hardest to emasculate its soldiers, the brave, courageous ones like Henry deal with it and survive. He also equates the sensation to childbirth, again indicating his fear of fertility.

As Catherine has predicted, bad things are starting to happen to her and Henry. While this episode is fairly harmless, Henry's jaundice does ruin their planned vacation. Once again, rain (at the start of the chapter) heralds the destruction of happy times.

Book Two: Chapter XXIII:

Catherine walks with Henry through town in the early evening; his train to the front is at midnight. Henry buys a gun in an armorer's shop. It starts to rain, and they take a carriage to a hotel. Catherine buys a nightgown on the way. They get a room and order dinner to be sent up. Catherine says she feels like a whore. They eat and make love and feel better. They discuss Catherine's slight craziness when they first met, and say neither will have to meet the other person's father - Catherine's has gout, while Henry has a stepfather. They make plans for when Henry is away - where Catherine will have the baby, how frequently she will write him - before they tear themselves away from the hotel room.


The lovers' last moments together before the soldier is sent off to the front is frequently used in war literature, but Hemingway poignantly renders this scene with two parts that undercut its air of romance. First, Henry buys a gun, a reminder that violence is on the horizon. Then, just when they get their room, Catherine says she feels like a whore for having sex in a hotel room. If the reader finds the rest of their conversation overly sentimental, these two darker notes remind us that the characters must plunge headlong into love to block out the horrific world around them.

We so rarely have conventional access to Henry's thoughts that when he does relate them, it comes as something of a surprise, as with "Oh, hell, I thought, do we have to argue now?" His narration is almost purely action, or indirect description of emotions, rather than direct translation of his thoughts. This style fits with the masculine code Hemingway endorses; the Hemingway hero is a man of action, not of intellect (which is not to say Henry is anti-intellectual - he certainly is not - but he is as much a doer as he is a thinker).

Book Two: Chapter XXIV:

Henry and Catherine leave their hotel room. They take a carriage to the train station in the rain. They say goodbye and Henry takes a seat in the crowded train, reserved for him by a soldier. Another captain is angry that Henry has reserved a seat, as he has been waiting two hours and must stand. Henry gives him his seat and stands in the corridor. He sleeps on the crowded corridor overnight.


Henry's dignified brand of heroism emerges again in the confrontation with the captain. Rather than fight a foolhardy battle, Henry graciously steps aside. This is not cowardice, but grace under pressure - Henry's understanding that this is not worth fighting over, and that the captain, though rude, does have a point.