A Farewell To Arms: Book 1 - Summary

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BOOK I
       A Farewell to Arms is neatly divided into five books like a five-act drama. Book one sets the scene, introduces the characters and gives an idea of what is to happen.

      It is the summer of 1916 and the scene is the Italian front, war is going on and the mood is gloomy. The narrator tells us how the permanent rain came in the winter and brought cholera and killed seven thousand men in the Army. Fighting is suspended. The narrator is to go on leave. The priest wants him to go to Abruzzi a place of peace and calm. But Henry returns having visited all the big cities, indulging in wine and women, when he returns he is sorry that he didn’t go to Abruzzi.

      When he returns to the front he meets Catherine Barkley an English nurse through his roommate Rinaldi. A kind of romance develops between the two. Casual on Henry’s part and serious on Catherine’s who is a bit crazy due to her fiance’s death. Henry is casual in his attitude to both the war and to love. He however begins to feel lonely at not being able to see Catherine and performs his duties conscientiously. Henry is wounded severely in his legs as he was sitting in a dugout with his drivers during the offensive. He comes face to face with the horror of war. He is transferred to the field hospital. Rinaldi comes to meet him and talks of casual sex and the priest also comes but he gives the definition of ideal love. Then Henry is to be transferred to the American Hospital in Milan.

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