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A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway

Summary and Analysis Book Three: Chapter XXXI


Despite a powerful current, Frederic — no longer Lieutenant — Henry manages to swim ashore. He crosses part of the Venetian plain on foot. He boards a moving train, hiding among guns stored beneath a tarpaulin.


This chapter is mainly connective. Notice, however, that Frederic Henry's desertion is illustrated with concrete specifics: gunless now, he pulls the insigniae from the sleeves of his uniform.

Hemingway's masterful way with action manifests itself at the start of Chapter XXXI and when Henry boards the train. Also note the author's curious use of you and we in what is otherwise a first-person-singular ("I") narration. While swimming, Henry describes himself as you, and then we. The effect is of close identification with the reader — of our implication in his actions, even. We are all Frederic Henry, Hemingway seems to be implying.


Latisana town on the Tagliamento River in northeast Italy.

San Vito San Vito al Tagliamento, a town to the west of the River Tagliamento in northeast Italy.

Portogruaro a town in northeast Italy, just south of San Vito al Tagliamento.

grummet a ring of rope or metal used to fasten the edge of a sail to its stay, hold an oar in place, etc.