A Farewell To Arms: Chapter 31-32 - Summary and Analysis

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CHAPTER 31 AND 32

SUMMARY

Henry’s Escape
      Henry was in the cold river for a long time and felt lucky to have a timber to hold on to. It was dawn and he thought he had to get to Mestre. He saw the shore coming closer and moving away again. After a lot of thrashing and struggling he reached the shore and lay flat on the bank. He took off his clothes and his things and dried them out. Then he began to walk along the shore and across the countryside from the north to the south. As he crossed a field to the north he saw a train. He went towards it and jumped on to the next train which was a freight train. As he hid himself under the canvas his head hit something and blood began to flow. He realized he was amongst well-cited guns and lay quietly. He let the blood coagulate and later wiped it away with rainwater so as not to look inconspicuous. He had to get off at Mestre.

Thinking of Dr. Valentini
      As he lay on the floor of the train he thought of Dr. Valentini. He felt wet cold and very hungry and his knee was stiff. But it had been very satisfactory. Dr. Valentini had done a fine job on it. He had done half the retreat on food and swum part of the river with it. It was Dr. Valentini’s knee. The head was his but not to use, only to think and only to remember and not too much to remember.

Thinking of Catherine and Others Too
      Henry thought of Catherine but he knew he would get crazy if he thought about her knowing that he would not be able* to see her. so he would think about her a little only. He thought about his colleague in America and wondered what they would think. He thought about his family and wondered what they would hear. Drowned or dead from wounds and other causes. He remembers the priest and Rinaldi and wondered if he would see any of them now.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

Atmosphere of Suspense Continued
      In these chapters the suspense created over Henry’s fate is continued. Henry floats down the river cold and miserable. He reaches the shore and begins to walk. He jumps onto a freight train towards Mestre and he seems almost delirious. He is not yet out of danger and what will happen next is uncertain. Again the account of his adventures is exciting and realistic as pertaining to Hemingway’s style.

Away from the War
      Chapter 32 contains Henry’s reflections as he lies on the floor of the freight car. He reflects on the loss of the three ambulances, he was to take to Pordenone and feels that he has failed in his duty. He thinks that he was out of the war now and he had no obligation anymore. Any obligation or responsibility had ceased when the carabiniere put his hands on his collar. And obligations of any kind had been washed way with his anger in the river. He doesn’t wish to wear any uniform now. He had taken his stars off but more for convenience than for honour. He was through with the army and any fighting. He wished the good, brave, calm and sensible soldiers in the army all the luck but for him it was over. His aim was to get to Mestre and eat and stop thinking. He thinks of his friends but does not want to worry. He wants to eat, drink and sleep with Catherine and thinks of going away with her. From this point onwards Henry is seen as leaving the war behind and proceeding towards another life with Catherine, a new. life of togetherness in some other place.

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