A Farewell To Arms Chapter 29 - Summary and Analysis

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CHAPTER 29

SUMMARY

The Sergeants
      In noon they were stuck on a muddy road, about ten kilometres from Udine. As they got down and examined the wheels the Sergeants started off down the road. When Henry orders them to stop and to cut brush to get the cars out, they refuse saying he wasn’t their officer, he couldn’t order them. Henry calls out to them to halt but they continue walking. He shoots at them and one falls. The other gets away. Bonello takes Henry’s pistol and finishes the wounded Sergeant.

Cars Abandoned
      Their efforts to pull the cars out of the mud fails. Henry decides to leave the cars and walk on to Udine. Henry gives some money to the two girls and sends them away, saying they will be safer in a group. Henry and his drivers begin to walk very fast towards Udine. As they talk, Bonello reveals that he had never killed anybody and he had always wanted to kill a Sergeant. He was glad he had finally killed someone. Henry wants to know if he was an anarchist. But Bonello says they were all socialist, not anarchist and invites him to their hometown. They walked along together all going fast against time.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

The Shooting of the Sergeants
      In the earlier chapter Ayno had taken on two Sergeants to ride with him. Now in their hour of need two Sergeants promptly desert. Henry shoots at them and hits one who is eventually killed by Bonello. This is the first instance where Henry, is shown committing an act of violence. Perhaps his action was rash but it is upto the reader to conclude whether he was justified or not. However, it is not the incident itself which is significant. What is important is that this and the episode of the girls contribute to the realistic picture of the retreat that Hemingway brings out. They are rather the symbols of the turnout, confusion and uncertainty that prevails and marks a retreat.

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