A Farewell To Arms: Chapter 19 - Summary and Analysis

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CHAPTER 19

SUMMARY

The War Again
      The summer passed. It was very hot and there were many victories for the Italians. Henry feels the war is going on for a long time. “Perhaps wars were not won anymore. Maybe they went on forever. Maybe it was another Hundred Years War.”

Henry Makes New Friends
      Catherine could no longer accompany Henry as he was no longer walking on crutches. So, he went out alone. He went to the Anglo-American club or to a cafe. Here he makes the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Meyers. He also befriends two fellows who were students of music, and an Italian from San Francisco, Ettore Moretti who was an officer in the Italian army. Ettore usually cracked jokes at the expense of the two singers. He was proud of his wounds and would love to be in the American army for the pay. He was sure he would be a colonel before the war ended. He immediately touches his medals as a precaution against getting killed and explains, ‘we always touch our stars if anybody mention getting killed.’

Catherine’s Dislike of Ettore
      Catherine doesn’t like Ettore because he talks too much and bores her. He may be a war hero but Catherine says those she knew were generally quiet. She feels he is too conceited and calls him a “dreadful boy”. Catherine also finds Mrs. Meyers’s habit of referring to the patients as her “dear boys” rather amusing.

The Rain Scares Catherine
      As Catherine and Henry talk, it began to rain and Catherine expresses her fear of rain. She reveals that sometime she sees herself dead in the rain and sometimes she sees Henry dead in it. Henry tells her to stop being crazy, it was all nonsense. And she says yes its all nonsense and that she wasn’t afraid of the rain, but she begins to cry, wishing that she really wasn’t afraid of the rain.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

From Comic to Tragic
       The chapter begins on a happy note, introducing some new and comic characters. The mood is light though the war is mentioned, the talk is more about the victories and Henry feels it is going on too long, the novel does not dwell upon it. Rather it moves on rapidly towards a sudden and tragic and Catherine crying because she is afraid of the rain. This use of the rain as a symbol of disaster is in continuation from the opening chapter and is used throughout the novel as a recovering symbol of disaster and death. Henry comforts, and Catherine stops crying but the chapter ends with the line “felt outside it kept on raining”. This is ominous and foretells some tragedy to befall the couple.

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