Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
The priest came to visit Henry at dusk the same day. He looked embarrassed and tired. Henry asked him how the mess was, and the priest replied that thankfully all was well and he was still the favorite butt of all jokes. He confessed that he missed Henry. Out of concern for him, he brought a mosquito netting, a bottle of vermouth, and some English papers. They shared a glass of vermouth. Henry asked if the priest was tired of the war. The priest told him that he hated war, just as Henry did. The priest told him that since Henry was a foreigner, fighting a war that did not belong to him, he was a patriot, whereas he himself was not. Henry hoped that the war would end soon, and the priest remarked that he would love to return to Abruzzi and be a man of God, without being embarrassed by it.
The priest then proceeded to distinguish between lust and love. Lust is merely passion and animal-like. Love demands duty, sacrifice, and service. If Henry loved truly, he told him, he would be truly happy. He feigned ignorance about love for a woman because he had not loved any woman except for his mother. He then bid farewell and left him.
The contrast between the characters of Rinaldi and the priest is brought out very clearly in this chapter. In keeping with Rinaldi’s bubbly and effervescent character, the previous chapter is light and frothy. This chapter, however, deals with the serious issue of love in its various forms. The priest is sincere and grave. He is very much a family man, but he is equally a man of God. His simple belief in God almost always is a great assistance and relief to him. He believes in the virtues of service, sacrifice, and self-denial which men of the world like Henry and Rinaldi do not agree with. Rinaldi is talkative, demonstrative, and frank to admit his lust for girls; the priest operates on a much higher and value-filled plane.