A Farewell To Arms: Chapter 7 - Summary and Analysis

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CHAPTER 7

SUMMARY

War Again
      The next day Henry went out to one of the mountains post to transfer the wounded to the hospitals. On the way he comes across a straggler, a soldier unable to keep up with his regiment. This soldier had a rupture but he had deliberately lost the truss so that it would become worse and he wouldn’t have to go to the line again. Henry tries to help him but he can’t. His regiment come back for him.

Thoughts
      Alone in his room, Henry reflects on the war He was in a strange and mysterious war zone, he felt. But then it was better run than the Austrians. He wished he were in some British unit instead as it would have been much simpler. In a way he felt useless because his risk in the war was next to nil. He was in charge of the ambulance unit but then ambulance drivers did get killed too. However, he felt that it was a war that would not kill him. He was in a way detached from the war It did not vitally concern him but nevertheless he wished that it were over. He thought it might finish that summer or that the Austrians might collapse or be defeated and he suddenly thought about Catherine. He thought of going to see her. He longed for her and wished she were with him. He began to fantasize about going to Milan with her and to dream about them in a Milanese hotel, making love all night.

A Sudden Change
      Dinner that night at the mess was the usual. The officers baited the priest. Laughed at their own jokes and generally had a good time. Henry was baited by major into drinking. Halfway through the wine, Henry remembered he had to go and see Catherine, so, he stopped. Rinaldi gave him some coffee beans to chew. But he couldn’t see her because she was not feeling well. All at once Henry felt disappointed. He had nearly forgotten to come and see her but now that he couldn’t see her he felt hollow and lonely.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

The Soldier’s Disgust with War
      In this chapter there is not much action but the narrative moves on to reveal aspects of war and then love. Henry encounters a soldier who has deliberately compounded his wound to avoid going to the front. This speaks clearly of the discomfort and distress that soldiers have to go through. And he frankly admits that he is disgusted with war. He says ‘I say its rotten. Jesus Christ, I say it's rotten”. This is a completely different view from the earlier one of war being “picturesque” as discussed by Catherine and Henry.

Henry’s Attitudes Towards Love and War
      In his room Henry reflects on the war and his love for Catherine. And it is clearly brought out that he has a very casual attitude towards war. It doesn’t concern him much. In much the same way he is not deeply involved in love. His love for Catherine is a game and his desire for her is purely carnal. But towards the end of the chapter there is a slight change. Henry suddenly feels hollow and lonely when he is unable to meet Catherine.

The Lighter Side
      From the grim incident with the soldier and Henry’s moody reflections, the conversation at the mess shows the lighter side of things. There is a lot of fun and laughter as the officers mercilessly poke fun at the priest. There is much drinking and even drinking competitions. Our impression that Rinaldi is a happy-go-lucky person is confirmed however he is a tender and caring person. This is evident from the way he handles the drunken Henry, giving him coffee beans to chew before going to meet Catherine and walking him up to the British Villa. However, he doesn’t believe in love affairs. Rather he ‘prefers the simpler pleasures’ implying that he would rather go to a girl in the brothels instead of building a relationship or having affairs.

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