A Farewell To Arms: Chapter 15 - Summary and Analysis

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CHAPTER 15

SUMMARY

Diagnosis Unsatisfactory
      The doctor arrived in the afternoon. He had delicate hands and he took out a number of small steel splinters from Henry’s thighs, using local anesthesia. Finding mere probing useless, an x-ray was taken so that the condition of Henry’s legs could be investigated properly. A team of three doctors came to check on Henry. The principal doctor who was a first captain, examined Henry and said they would have to wait for at least six months before his knee could be safely operated. Henry was aghast. He could not wait for six months. He refused to accept this diagnosis and insisted on another opinion.

Dr. Valentini’s Suggestion
      Two hours later, Dr. Valentini examines Henry. He being a senior doctor Henry believed him. He was a talkative, friendly man and he tells Henry that he would operate on his knee the next morning.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

The Doctors
      This chapter is mainly descriptive of the process taken by doctors in helping Henry’s knee and legs to heal. There are ironical comments on most of the doctors. The doctor who takes the x-rays Henry calls the Austrians “some of bitches” and wants to know how many Austrians Henry had killed. To please him Henry says he killed plenty. He also flirts with Miss Gage of the other doctors whom Henry thinks are incompetent he says ‘doctors who fail in the practice of medicine have a tendency to seek one another’s company and aid in consultation’. Henry refuses to accept Dr. Varella’s diagnosis saying he did not want to be ‘fooled with’ by a doctor with the rank of first captain. And Dr. Valentini, a Major, proves his superiority by diagnosing that Henry’s knee can be operated the very next day. Dr. Valentini is reminiscent of Rinaldi in his garrulousness and appreciation of Catherine’s beauty.

Comic Elements
      On the whole, this is a comic chapter highly entertaining with Henry poking fun at the expense of the three incompetent doctors. The inconsequential chatter of Dr. Valentini also leads a humorous touch.

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