A Farewell to Arms
Catherine, her rounds finished, comes to him. He tells her about the leave but she seems "upset and taut." She tells him she's pregnant.
After the news sinks in, they have, for the first time, something that might be construed as a fight. Henry admits "You always feel trapped biologically" at pregnancy. She gets upset and petulant. "I've tried to be the way you wanted and then you talk about 'always.'"
But they make up. What follows is significant. Note first their naivete about lovers' quarrels. They're never going to fight because if they do, the world ("they") will "get" them. Most people would consider a relationship without disagreement to be rare, too perfect to be true. But it's what Catherine and Henry require; in their war-torn world only a perfect relationship can provide the refuge they need.
Henry suggests that the world won't get the two of them because Catherine is too brave. "Nothing ever happens to the brave." Significantly, Catherine answers, "They die of course." Henry quotes from Julius Caesar about cowards dying a thousand deaths. Catherine disagrees, saying that the brave person dies many times also, but achieves his bravery by keeping a stiff upper lip, by not mentioning his suffering. The Hemingway stoicism, again.
Further in the dialogue, Henry's insecurity shows itself, first where he compares himself to a mediocre ballplayer and second where he sardonically admits he's brave when he's had a drink. These two statements recall the earlier revelation that he has trouble sleeping when he's alone and that he's subject to nightmares. The wound is always with him.
The chapter closes with a feeling of resignation. Catherine and Frederic Henry matter-of-factly assume that the war will go on for a long time, referring to it as another Hundred Years War.
© Copyright 1984 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
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