Arriving in Milan, Lieutenant Henry is taken by ambulance to the American hospital, which proves empty except for two nurses, neither of whom is Catherine Barkley.
In this chapter, Hemingway briefly reiterates the theme of Lieutenant Henry's alienation from the war, further preparing him and us for his eventual flight from involvement. He is the first and only patient in the American hospital, which barely functions as it lacks a doctor. Mainly the author is setting the stage here for the escalation of Henry's affair with Catherine Barkley; the American hospital in Milan will serve as a kind of refuge for them and their love, until Henry is sent back to the front at the conclusion of Book Two.
Notice, at chapter's end, Henry's inability to sleep well at night. Throughout his hospital stay, he will continue to sleep mainly during the daytime. Hemingway's heroes are often afraid of the dark.
armoire a large, usually ornate cupboard or clothespress.
Lake Como lake in Lombardy, north Italy.
the Isonze the Isonzo River, in northeast Italy. At the time during which the story takes place, it lay within the boundaries of Austria-Hungary.
Cinzano brand-name of an aperitif.
fiasco (Italian) flask.
chianti a dry red wine produced in the Tuscany region of Italy.
eggnog a thick drink made of beaten eggs, milk, sugar, and nutmeg, often containing whiskey, rum, wine, etc.
sherry a Spanish fortified wine varying in color from light yellow to dark brown and in flavor from very dry to sweet.