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THE STORY - CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
The night brings both rain and bad news. The barman warns that Henry will be arrested in the morning. Generously, without prying, the barman advises Henry to escape to Switzerland and offers his boat.
Henry and Catherine hurry to get ready. The barman takes their bags as they pretend they're going for a walk in the rain. Down at the lake they meet the barman, who gives them sandwiches and liquor. He sends them on their way. The night is stormy but the wind is blowing in the right direction to sweep them into Swiss waters.
The barman is the key person in this scene, one more character who's
dependable and honorable. Consider, though, that what he's done, however
right it seems, is "unpatriotic" and highly illegal. There's
that conflict again. For the moment, anyway, authority is defeated.
Henry rows, making progress by going with the wind. It is a tough job but, aside from the danger of being caught by Italian border patrols, not overly hazardous.
Hemingway works in some fine descriptions of the moonlit lake as the rain stops and the clouds scud away. There's a bit of comic relief when Henry tries to use an umbrella as a sail. It snaps, of course, making him look foolish.
He rows on, his hands blistering. Catherine takes a short turn to spell him. Well after daybreak, they reach the Swiss side of the lake, land, and have breakfast. Switzerland looks "cheerful and clean even with the rain."
After breakfast they are arrested. Their story is that they want to come to Switzerland for the winter sports. Coupled with the fact that they have valid passports and plenty of money, their story is just absurd enough to impress the practical, businesslike Swiss. Note the officer's reaction to their money: he gives them the business card of his father, a hotel keeper! Other officials sound like tour guides, each vying for the rich tourists' patronage. A subtly critical, yet funny scene.
The upshot of it all is that they're allowed to tour in the country and are taken to a hotel.
Had Hemingway been spinning a romantic love story, here is where he should have stopped. There is a sense of closure at this point. Henry and Catherine are safe; they're in love, and, as long as Henry's grandfather keeps sending money, they can live. A simple love story, however, is not the author's intention. Too much has happened that transcends romance-other conflicts and other meanings. These have to be wrapped up and clarified in Book V, the conclusion.