A Farewell to Arms By Ernest Hemingway Book Summary
About A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms begins in the Alps around the frontier between Italy and present-day Slovenia. Allied with Britain, France, and Russia against the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany, Italy is responsible for preventing the Austro-Hungarian forces from assisting the Germans on the war's western front, and Russia in the east. The novel's narrator and protagonist is eventually identified as Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American who has volunteered for the Italian army because the United States has not yet entered the war. Henry supervises a group of Italian ambulance drivers.
After a wintertime leave spent touring the country, Lieutenant Henry returns to the captured town at the front where his unit lives. One evening his roommate, a surgeon and lieutenant in the Italian army named Rinaldi, introduces Henry to two British nurses: Catherine Barkley and her friend Helen Ferguson. Catherine and Henry talk of the war and of her fiancé, killed in combat the year before; clearly she has been traumatized by the experience. On his second visit to the British hospital, they kiss. When Henry again visits Catherine, she tells him that she loves him and asks whether he loves her. He responds that he does.
One night, Lieutenant Henry and his fellow ambulance-drivers settle into a dugout across the river from the enemy troops. While the drivers are eating, the Austrian bombardment wounds Henry in the leg and kills one of the other drivers. Henry is transported by train to an American hospital in Milan.
Catherine Barkley arrives at the hospital, to which she has been transferred. Once again, she and Lieutenant Henry declare their love for each other, after which they have sex in the hospital bed. Henry and Catherine spend the summer together while he recuperates from an operation on his leg...