The novel is divided into five books. In the first book, Rinaldi introduces Frederic Henry to Catherine Barkley. Frederic attempts to seduce her, and their relationship begins. While on the Italian front, Frederic is wounded in the knee by a mortar shell and sent to a hospital in Milan. The second book shows the growth of Frederic and Catherine's relationship as they spend time together in Milan over the summer. Frederic falls in love with Catherine and, by the time he is healed, Catherine is three months pregnant. In the third book, Frederic returns to his unit, but not long afterwards the Austrians break through the Italian lines in the Battle of Caporetto, and the Italians retreat. Frederic kills an engineering sergeant for insubordination. After falling behind and catching up again, Frederic is taken to a place by the "battle police," where officers are being interrogated and executed for the "treachery" that supposedly led to the Italian defeat. However, after seeing and hearing that everyone interrogated has been killed, Frederic escapes by jumping into a river. In the fourth book, Catherine and Frederic reunite and flee to Switzerland in a rowboat. In the final book, Frederic and Catherine live a quiet life in the mountains until she goes into labor. After a long and painful birth, their son is stillborn. Catherine begins to hemorrhage and soon dies, leaving Frederic to return to their hotel in the rain.
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