A Farewell To Arms: Chapter 34 - Summary and Analysis

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CHAPTER 34

SUMMARY

Stressa
      In his civilian clothes Henry felt like a masquerader. He missed the feeling of being in uniform and felt strange. He caught a train for Stressa. His fellow passengers got off and he was glad to be alone. He had the paper but did not want to read it and read about the war. He had made a separate peace. He felt very lonely and was glad when the train got to Stressa.

Finding Catherine
      At the station there was no one. He started for the Grand-Hotel, in the rain. It was a luxurious hotel and he took a good room. As he chats with the barman over a drink he enquires about Catherine and Ferguson saying one was his wife. The barman informs him that they are in a little hotel near the station. Henry eats and drinks and feels civilized.

Henry Wants Nothing to Do with War
      As Henry and the barman talks, the barman asked him some questions. But he doesn’t want to talk about the war and says “Don’t talk about the war”. For him the war was a long way away. There wasn’t any war. There was no war there. And then he realized that the war was over for him, but did not have the feeling that it was really over. He felt like a boy playing truant from school.

Reunion
      Catherine and Helen Ferguson were at supper when Henry came to their hotel. Ferguson is surprised and Catherine, too happy to believe it. Her face lighted up but Ferguson loses control. She cries and accuses' Henry of creating trouble for Catherine. She calls him a sneaky fellow who after having his pleasure with Catherine wants to leave her now that she is pregnant. She says ‘you are like a snake. A snake in Italian uniform’. Catherine tries to console her but she doesn’t listen. Rather she scolds both of them for being shameless and for having no feelings. Then scolds Henry for not marrying her and questions if he has another wife. Ferguson is sorry that Catherine is going to leave her but happy that they are going to be together and when Catherine offers to stay with her she insists that she should go with Henry.

That Night at the Hotel
      That night in their room, with the rain outside, they have a happy night together. And Henry no longer felt lonely. In the morning the rain had stopped. Catherine is apprehensive about Henry being arrested as he was out of uniform. Henry feels they might just shoot him. So Catherine says they should get out of the country. Henry then says that they can go to Switzerland. But he feels like a criminal as he has deserted from the army. Catherine feels he is wrong because the army here is the Italian army and Henry is an American. They go back to bed. Later they plan to go away.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

Catherine Deeply Devoted to Henry
      Henry and Catherine are now reunited. She loves him as much as ever before. There has been no changes in this gentle and submissive nature of love towards him inspite of their long separation. Even though Ferguson is very upset about them, that she is on advanced state of pregnancy, they were separated and they are not married either. Catherine has no grievance. She is more concerned about Henry’s safety and says she shall accompany him anywhere he wished to go, so that he can escape arrest. She is forever assuring him and accommodating him and indulging all his whims to make him happy.

Henry’s feelings for Catherine
      Henry thinks about his and Catherine’s relationship during the night. In their love, they never felt jealous of the other’s wish to be alone as other couples. They could feel alone when they were together and alone against others. He has been lonely with many girls before. But they are never lonely and never afraid when they are together. The night can be a dreadful time for lonely people but with Catherine Henry has a better time during the night.

      Towards the end Henry reflects on how the world breaks and kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. There is therefore a foreboding of what is going to happen later in the novel.

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