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Free Study Guide for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms BOOK SUMMARY ANALYSIS

CHAPTER 15

Summary

As promised, the doctor arrived in the afternoon. He was a thin, quiet, little man who was disturbed by the war. With disapproval and distaste, he removed a number of small steel splinters from his thighs, under a local anesthesia. He then decided to take an x-ray to give a detailed picture of Henry’s condition. The doctor who took the x-ray was efficient, excitable, and cheerful and hoped that Henry had killed many Austrians. He also flirted with Miss Gage, calling her Cleopatra. Later, Catherine brought the x-ray reports. Three medical doctors, who looked inefficient to Henry, looked at his wound and found it was without pus indicating that infection had not set in. They determined that Henry would have to wait for three to six months for an operation while the synovial fluid reformed and projectiles encysted. Henry disagreed with the doctors and asked the house doctor to ask for some other surgeon to examine him.

Two hours later, Dr.Valentini came in and examined him. He decided that he would operate upon Henry’s knee the very next morning. The major doctor decided that Henry looked healthy as a goat and even allowed him a drink.

Notes

We come to know that Henry’s wound is not superficial and is a cause for concern. There are a lot of steel splinters embedded in his leg, which should be removed immediately. The three medical doctors, all below the rank of First Captain, are inefficient and decide that Henry should be operated on after six months. Henry cannot visualize himself in bed for such a long time. Dr.Valentini holds the rank of a major, and he decides, to Henry’s relief, that he will operate the next day.



CHAPTER 16

Summary

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.

Notes

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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