A Farewell to Arms

What do we know of Frederic Henry's and Catherine Barkley's lives before the novel begins?

Also, why would Frederic choose to tell us so little about their past?

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Catherine Barkley is a static character. What growing or changing she has done has come before the novel begins and we are not privy to this information. Considering Henry tells this story from first person, we only get bits of information about the past to work with. The author doesn't want a past to interfere with the narrative flow of his story.