A Farewell To Arms: Chapter 23 - Summary and Analysis

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CHAPTER 23

SUMMARY

Going back to the Front
      It was time for Henry to go back to the front. He was to leave by train at midnight. He got the porter to go and hold a seat for him in the train and took his baggage. In the meantime he said goodbye at the hospital and to the porter’s wife.

That Evening with Catherine
      Henry and Catherine walked along together. As they walk they come across a soldier and his girl standing in the shadows of a wall with his cape around her. Henry wishes they had someplace to go. But Catherine does not agree. Henry buys a pistol. Eventually, Catherine feels better. When Henry kisses her, she puts his cape around her like the other soldier and his girl. Henry then takes her to a hotel where he gets a room. But Catherine is unhappy and feels like a prostitute but she recovers soon enough and they have a pleasant time in the room before Henry is to leave. Catherine also assures him that she would handle everything and manage to have the baby. She says, they might even have several babies before the war got over.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

Catherine
      As Henry is about to leave, he takes Catherine to a hotel. But Catherine feels awful. She says “ I have never felt like a whore before”. Henry also feels uncomfortable. There is a strain as they are about to be separated. But they get over it and the hotel room begins to feel like home. Catherine says that whatever they do seems so innocent and simple and wishes she could do something really sinful, implying that she doesn’t feel living together, or her pregnancy wrong. Henry calls her a ‘lovely girl’, ‘a grand girl’, ‘a simple girl’, ‘a crazy girl’ and she agrees. In the course of the conversation it is revealed that she has a father who has gout due to excessive drinking and Henry has a stepfather. When it is time to go Catherine again urges Henry not to worry. She shall arrange everything very nicely and even have a very nice home ready, for him when he would come to after the war. Catherine is thus shown as very anxious for Henry to be always happy. She considers herself already married to him and behaves like a good wife to him.

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