Count Greffi: Character Analysis in A Farewell To Arms

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      Count Greffi is an old man that Henry meets in Stresa. He is ninety-four years old and had been a contemporary of Matternich. He had been in the diplomatic service of both Austria and Italy. He is a man of exquisite manners and he gave birthday parties that were great social events in Milan. He was living to be a hundred and still he played brilliant billiards and could defeat anybody.

A Game with Henry
      When Count Greffi learns that Henry has coine to Stresa, he invites him for a game of billiards. He is very dignified and solicitous and warmly thanks Henry for coming to play with him. Then he gives Henry eighteen points and decides to play for stakes. A franc a point. They drink as they play but Count Grefli is such a good player that he easily beats Henry in spite of the handicap. Count Grefli is also a man of good literary taste and he talks very well. He wants to know about the war, but Henry doesn’t want to talk about war. He is a man of literary taste and is very well acquainted with books and is also very well accomplished in his social circle. He is also a very good conversationalist.

His Philosophy of Life
      During the course of the game as the Count and Henry converse, his philosophy of life and various views on religion, soul and love are revealed. This conversation also reveals Henry’s views. The Count wants to know if he believes in God and the soul and Henry replies that he becomes conscious of God only at night. The Count himself had hoped to become devout with old age but he had not been able to acquire the faith. He has a zest for life that is truly great. He would like to live forever as his life was such a pleasant one. Then he tells Henry that the saying that old men have wisdom is a great fallacy. Men do not grow wise with old age; they only grow more careful. He asks Henry what he values most in life and Henry replies someone he loves. Thus, it is through Henry’s conversation with Count Grefli it is revealed that Henry values Catherine the most in life. Count Grefli agrees that one’s loved one is most valued. His request to Henry is that he prays for him. He had not become religious in his old age and he may never be. So he asks Henry.

      Henry’s game of billiards with Count Greffi is like an interlude. It is a moment of ease and calms where Henry’s true feeling for Catherine is revealed. Count Greffi and his conversation serves as the calm before the storm, the storm here being Henry’s flight to Switzerland with Catherine.

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