Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway|
A Farewell to Arms BOOK SUMMARY ANALYSIS
Catherine spent the night in Henry’s room. As they lay together, they
heard a bat moving in the room. They saw a searchlight moving its beam
across the sky and go off. There were anti-aircraft guns on the next roof
and they heard the men manning them talk. From time to time, Catherine
went out to see if everybody was asleep. She came back to report that
they were. They ate some crackers which, of course, had to be cleaned
from Henry’s stomach when he would undergo the operation. His temperature
was normal in the morning. Catherine wished they could go out for a walk.
Henry asked her if she could be on night duty that day. She said that
he did not know how he would be as a patient after an operation. He would
be sick, and she would be nothing to him. She then prepared him for surgery
because she did not want any other nurse to touch him. She hoped that
there would be more patients so that she would not have to go away from
the hospital. She also said that when Henry got well, they would go away
someplace, soon after the war. She taunted Henry about how many other
women he had had. Henry replied that he had not loved anybody before.
Though she believed that Henry lied to her, she wanted to go on listening
to those lies. She told him that she would do exactly what he wanted till
there was no more of her left.
In passages such as these, Catherine strikes us as being a totally weak character with no personality of her own. She is blindly devoted to her man, has a physical relationship with him without realizing what the consequences would be, and is almost hysterical in urging Henry to declare his love. She surrenders herself totally to him; she cannot even bear a nurse to touch him. She is simple, honest, and sincere, but at the same time, she has that biggest strength, love. Their love story progresses.
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