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Free Study Guide-A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway-Book Notes
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CHAPTER 20

Summary

One day in the afternoon, Henry and Catherine went to the horse races. They were accompanied by Ferguson and Crowell Rodgers. Rodgers was the boy who was hurt and wounded in the eyes by the exploding shell and admitted into hospital after Henry’s operation. Meyers liked Crowell and gave him tips.


The horse racing was very crooked. Men, blackballed elsewhere in the world, raced in Italy. Meyer won on nearly every race and gave tips to Crowell, provided he did not tell his wife. He himself never confided to his wife about the horses he was betting on, and she usually lost most races. She talked too much. They collected one hundred lira among themselves and bet on a horse named Japalac. This horse was to pay thirty-to-one and would bring thirty-five hundred lira to Henry. Eventually, the horse won the race, about fifteen lengths ahead of the others. But, at the last minute, somebody bet a lot of money on it, thereby bringing down the odds. Catherine and Ferguson found the race crooked and disgusting. Mr. Meyers refused a drink saying that he never drank. Catherine felt that she liked it better when she was alone with Henry. She went to the races only to please Henry; she would actually do anything he wanted. In general, they had a good time.

Notes

The entire chapter is devoted to horse races, which are, strictly speaking, irrelevant to the plot and its development. Catherine is as meek and submissive as ever. Whatever she does, she does only to please Henry. She feels claustrophobic amidst people but puts up with it because Henry loves people. In his turn, Henry is a fun-loving and gregarious man and loves the company of other people besides Catherine’s.

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