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The narrator returned from his leave with the army still camped in Gorizia. Spring had come and hostilities were on the rise again. He saw that the mountains were now covered with green patches and there were many guns in the town. There were new hospitals with many British men and women in them. The narrator shared a room with Lieutenant Rinaldi, who was a surgeon. When he entered it, he found the Rinaldi asleep, but he woke up as soon as he heard Henry. He asked him how he spent his leave. The narrator replied that he had had a wonderful time. Rinaldi informed him that there were new girls in the brothels and that some other beautiful girls had come to town too. In particular, he was fascinated by Catherine Barkley, an English nurse. Rinaldi told him that nothing important had happened during his absence, except for a few men suffering from frostbite, chilblains, jaundice, gonorrhea, self-inflicted wounds, pneumonia, and other problems. He took a loan of fifty lira from the narrator and went back to sleep.
At the mess that night, the narrator sat beside the priest, who seemed disappointed and hurt that he had not visited his family while on leave. The narrator had spent his leave going from town to town, having casual affairs with girls, going to night- spots, and drinking more than he could take. There had hardly been any difference between night and day and between one day and another. The captain again made fun of the priest saying that the priest loved girls and wanted Austria to win that war. To both charges, the priest pleaded not guilty and took everything in a cheerful manner.
In this chapter, the author allows the reader a few facts of the narrator’s character. He seems to be a person without any strong ties and commitments; he is a drifter. He is a heavy drinker and has a very casual, if not indifferent attitude, towards sex and women. He has never known what it is to be in love. He is a hedonistic, pleasure-loving person without any serious aim in life.
In this chapter, we are also introduced in absentia, to the heroine, Catherine Barkley. According to Rinaldi, she is English, extremely beautiful and works as a nurse. Rinaldi appears to us as good-looking, skillful, and unlike the narrator, a dedicated surgeon. He wants to marry Miss Barkley. He is interesting and is a direct contrast to the narrator.