A Farewell To Arms: Chapter 11 - Summary and Analysis

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CHAPTER 11

SUMMARY

The Priest’s Visit
      In the evening of the same day, the priest paid Henry a visit. He inquires about Henry’s condition and tells him he could stay only for a little while. Henry enquires about the mess of Gorizia and the priest says that he was still the target of jokes. The officers still poked fun at him. The priest had also brought some presents for Henry; a mosquito net, a bottle of vermouth, and some English newspapers. The priest express his hatred for the war and Henry also admits that he didn’t enjoy it either.

The Priest Defines Love
      As they talk, Henry reveals his desire that the war would end soon. The priest then says that, if that were so, he would return to his native place Abruzzi, where he could live a happy life loving and serving God. He then wants to know if Henry loved God but Henry replies in the negative saying he only felt afraid of God sometimes in the night. The priest urges Henry to love God, but Henry replies ‘ I don’t love much. Then the priest tells him that all that he tells him about what happens in the night is not love, only passion and lust. Further he tells Henry that when one falls in love, then one wishes to do things for, to sacrifice for, and to serve. But Henry sticks to his earlier answer. He says ‘I don’t love’. Later the priest departs.

Henry’s Feelings about the Priest
      Henry feels that he likes the priest very much. He hoped that the priest would get back to Abruzzi sometime. Ho bad rotten kind of life in the mess but he tolerated it in a sporting manner. Henry then thinks about the beautiful life that the priest’s father had in Abruzzi and feels that the priest would be very happy if he went back to Abruzzi.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

Rinaldi and the Priest Contrasted
      In the preceding chapter, Rinaldi’s character was brought to the fore and his sensual and garrulous nature was depicted. This chapter deals with the priest and throws light on his character. A comic mood prevailed in the earlier chapter. Now as we discuss the priest the mood becomes solemn. The priest is an earnest type of person. He feels as solicitous about Henry’s wounds as Rinaldi did but while Rinaldi talked about drinks and girls, the priest talks about God. Rinaldi talked about love in terms of lust, passion and sensuousness but for the priest love means doing things for the other, self-sacrifice and service.

Henry’s Personality is Highlighted
      In this chapter, we also come to know more about Henry’s character. From his conversation with the priest, it is brought out that he neither believes in God, nor love Him. The priest defines love and his definition implies that love should be self-sacrificing. But Henry seems quite incapable of such kind of love. However, he genuinely likes the priest and this show that he is at least capable of real affection and sentiment. After the priest leaves, Henry reflects on the kind of life that one could have in Abruzzi. He pictures an ideal life, cool, beautiful and lovely.

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