Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
Henry was taken to the field hospital and put in a ward that was hot and full of flies. In the afternoon, Rinaldi came to see him and brought a bottle of cognac with him. Because Henry was gravely wounded, Rinaldi informed him that he would get a bronze medal. If he had done any heroic act, he would have gotten the silver. But Henry was wounded while he was in the midst of eating a meal. Rinaldi asked him if he heroically carried dying soldiers on his back, to which Henry replied that he couldn’t have with his own legs broken. Rinaldi informed him that the offensive was, however, successful and nearly a thousand enemy soldiers were taken prisoner. He talked a lot and asked an orderly to bring a corkscrew to open the bottle of cognac. He offered to bring Catherine to his side but Henry refused.
The town of Gorizia was its normal self but Henry made fun of Rinaldi for being alone, without any new girls. At Rinaldi’s suggestion, Henry drank some wine and felt warm. He said that he missed Henry very much because there was no one to make fun of or to lend money to, no “blood-brother and room-mate.” Henry suggested that the priest would be a good substitute for him, but Rinaldi said that it was the captain who enjoyed poking fun at the priest. He enjoyed teasing Henry, for he was an Italian underneath that tough American exterior. He promised to send the “lovely, cool . . . English goddess,” Catherine, to him. Rinaldi and Henry teased each other for some time, and later, Rinaldi left after kissing him and wishing him speedy recovery.
In this chapter, the friendship between Henry and Rinaldi is established. They are actually polarized in their thinking and behavior. Rinaldi is talkative, even garrulous, while Henry is not; Rinaldi is a skillful, dedicated, and committed surgeon, but Henry is easy going. Rinaldi is demonstrative in his affection for Henry whereas the sentiment is not reversible. They are roommates and “blood-brothers.” The light-hearted banter between them mutes the gloom and tragedy of the previous chapter.