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Free Study Guide-A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway-Book Notes
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CHAPTER 16

Summary

Catherine spent the night in Henry’s room. As they lay together, they heard a bat moving in the room. They saw a searchlight moving its beam across the sky and go off. There were anti-aircraft guns on the next roof and they heard the men manning them talk. From time to time, Catherine went out to see if everybody was asleep. She came back to report that they were. They ate some crackers which, of course, had to be cleaned from Henry’s stomach when he would undergo the operation.


His temperature was normal in the morning. Catherine wished they could go out for a walk. Henry asked her if she could be on night duty that day. She said that he did not know how he would be as a patient after an operation. He would be sick, and she would be nothing to him. She then prepared him for surgery because she did not want any other nurse to touch him. She hoped that there would be more patients so that she would not have to go away from the hospital. She also said that when Henry got well, they would go away someplace, soon after the war. She taunted Henry about how many other women he had had. Henry replied that he had not loved anybody before. Though she believed that Henry lied to her, she wanted to go on listening to those lies. She told him that she would do exactly what he wanted till there was no more of her left.

Notes

In passages such as these, Catherine strikes us as being a totally weak character with no personality of her own. She is blindly devoted to her man, has a physical relationship with him without realizing what the consequences would be, and is almost hysterical in urging Henry to declare his love. She surrenders herself totally to him; she cannot even bear a nurse to touch him. She is simple, honest, and sincere, but at the same time, she has that biggest strength, love. Their love story progresses.

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