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Free Study Guide-A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway-Book Notes
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BOOK V

CHAPTER 38

Summary

That winter, the snow came very late. Henry and Catherine lived in a small cottage in the mountains. Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen were the owners of the cottage and took a great deal of interest in the couple. Outside, in front of the chalet, a road went up the mountains. There were pine forests and they loved walking in the woods.

When the sun was bright, they had lunch on the porch, but the rest of the time, they ate in the room. They bought many books and magazines, played cards, and were generally very happy. Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen lived downstairs and were a happy couple too. He was a head waiter at a hotel, where she worked as a maid. They had a son who was studying to be a head waiter. The war seemed distant now but they heard that fighting was still continuing.

Sometimes, Henry and Catherine took a walk down the mountain into Montreux. There was a path that went down the mountain. But it was steep so they usually took the road. They did not know anybody in Montreux. There were several big hotels, which were usually closed, but the shops were open. Catherine would go to have her hair done, while Henry went to a bar, drank beer, and read the papers.


They were happy. They hoped that their child would be small. They wondered if they ought to be married. Catherine refused to get married when she looked so big and “matronly.” She promised to marry when she was thin again. She told him that the doctor was unhappy with her narrow hips and it would be best if the baby was very small. Her blood pressure was normal. She said that she would be an American if she married him and their child would be legitimate. She wanted to go to America and see the Niagara Falls.

Three days before Christmas, snow started falling. It was a heavy snow storm.. Henry and Catherine took a walk in the snow before lunch. Catherine asked Henry if he missed the company of other men; he said no. Since she was going to have a child, she was content, but she felt that it was different with Henry. However, he assured her that he wanted to stay with her. She suggested that he should grow a beard. She asked him if he felt bored with her and he replied that it was not so and that she had a good wife. She asked him again and again if they would have a good life together. They decided to play chess since it was still snowing hard outside.

Once in the night, Henry woke up to see Catherine awake too. She reminded him that she was crazy when they first met but she was no longer so now. She was very happy.

Notes

There is a tremendous change in Catherine’s character. At first she appears crazy with grief over her childhood sweetheart’s death. As the novel progresses, she appears neurotic and very anxious to please Henry and reassure him that she was a good wife. Now she is content because she is pregnant and has Henry. Hemingway has created a completely dependent “heroine.” All she needs is to be the sacrificial, martyred wife and mother.

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