A Farewell To Arms: Chapter 27 - Summary and Analysis

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The Situation at the War Front
      Early the next day Henry went up to the Bainsizza. There he met Gino who informed him about the developments. He said the Austrians were still shelling but the number of wounded soldiers was not many. But the rains had started and therefore many soldiers would now fall sick. Gino also told Henry that there were Croate and Magyars among the troops opposite. The Italians were still in the attacking positions and if the Austrians should attack there were no wines and no place to fall back to. The soldiers were also short of food though they were not starving. There should be plenty of food and the soldiers in line got enough food but those in support didn’t. So, Gino feels that something was wrong somewhere.

A non-Believer of Abstract Details
      Henry feels that the food shortage might negatively affect the morale of the troops and Gino doesn’t want to talk about losing as otherwise, the summer’s work would have been in vain. Henry remains silent, thinking that words such as “sacred”, “glorious”, and “sacrifice” had little meaning, they rather embarrassed him for he had seen nothing sacred and the things that were glorious had no glory and “the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except bury it. To him only the names of places had dignity. Abstract words like glory, honor, courage were obscene besides the names of villages, roads, rivers, regiments etc. But Gino could say these things because he was a patriot.

Attack and Counter Attack
      During the day it stormed and there was sporadic firing from the Austrian guns. But in the night as it began to storm again there was a bombardment and the Croatians came to the frontlines. Scared man from the second line, counter-attacked and drove them back. They fought in the dark and the rain, there was much shelling and rockets, machine-gun and rifle fire. The wounded came in, some on stretchers, some on other’s backs and some walking. They were all wet and scared. They were sent away. There was another attack after daylight but it was unsuccessful. There was a lull during the day but they attacked again in the evening.

Possibility of an Italian Retreat
      The attack to the south had been unsuccessful but the Austrians had broken through the north. That night the captain at the post tells Henry that they had to be ready for a retreat. Later, however, orders are received, not to retreat. There had been a great battle all day in the north and the Austrians had broken through the twenty-seventh army corps. One of the medical officers says that it was the Germans who were attacking.

      The next night the retreat started. The Germans and Austrians had broken through in the north. The retreat was orderly, wet and sullen. The field hospitals were evacuated. Gorizia was nearly empty. Even the girls of the brothel left. The villa was empty. Henry was to go to Pordenone with the ambulances. He and his drivers Piani, Bonello and Aymo sleep for three hours, then they started for Vdine.


Vivid Picture of The Retreat
      In the earlier chapter, a feeling of disillusionment had cropped up. In this chapter, the course of the war takes a definite turn. The Italians are forced to retreat. Hemingway paints a vivid picture of the retreat taking place, now as orderly as an advance, the troops on the move, the empty towns etc.

Henry Against Conventional Ideas
      Henry in this chapter is shown as being disillusioned and the conventional ideals of glory, honor, sacrifice have no meaning for him. They are rather obscene as against concrete things. For him only names of places have dignity and only a patriot talks about these abstract ideals.

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