Lieutenant Henry continues to recuperate, during a summer when "there were many victories in the papers" — at least on the Austrian front. Around Milan, he encounters an American couple, professional gamblers named Mr. and Mrs. Meyers; Ettore Moretti, an Italian from San Francisco who is a captain in the Italian army; and two American students of opera.
Once again, Hemingway returns to the theme of Lieutenant Henry's alienation from the Italians in the midst of whom he lives and works, this time by comparing him to other Americans in Milan. According to rumor, Meyers lives in Italy after having been released from jail to die, and the two opera students have changed their American names to Italian ones, although one can't even pronounce the language properly. Ettore Moretti, the San Franciscan whose connection to Italy is most genuine (his parents live in Torino), is "a legitimate hero who bored everyone he met," according to Henry. None of these characters really belongs here — which again raises the question (or at least implies it), why is Henry himself in the Italian army? Once more, the writer is providing him with an excuse to desert later in the story.
With regard to characterization, note that while Henry tolerates Ettore Moretti, Catherine dislikes him intensely. Not only is she a more mature character than Henry at this point in the novel, she is also more developed as a Hemingway hero. (This would seem to refute the often-stated charge that the writer was a misogynist.) "We have heroes too," Catherine Barkley says of Moretti, "But usually, darling, they're much quieter." Catherine believes in the virtues of stoicism and modesty — virtues embodied not only in Henry (who will compare himself later to a middling baseball player) as well as Catherine, but in Hemingway's writing style, as well. (Ironically, though the writer himself may have been stoic, he was hardly modest; in fact, he is remembered as a true braggart.)
Finally, it is in this chapter that the deeper meaning of the rain is made explicit. Catherine admits to Henry that "I'm afraid of the rain because sometimes I see myself dead in it . . . . And sometimes I see you dead in it." Thus Hemingway has combined symbolism and foreshadowing in one image, and as we move forward through the story we will pay particular attention to the fortunes of the characters each time that it rains. To some degree, from this point on, we are reading A Farewell to Arms to discover whether or not Catherine dies. (Henry does not die, clearly, as he is the character telling the story.)
Treatments . . . for bending the knees, mechanical treatments, baking in a box of mirrors with violet rays, massage, and baths examples of mechano-therapy mentioned in Chapter XII.
Kuk a mountain in present-day Slovenia.
Bainsizza plateau a plateau in present-day Slovenia.
Verona town in Veneto region of north Italy.
Hundred Years War series of English-French wars (1337-1453), in which England lost all of its possessions in France except Calais (lost to France in 1558).
marsala a dry or sweet, amber-colored fortified wine made in western Sicily.
Piacenza commune in north Italy, in Emilia-Romagna, on the Po River.
Tosca title of Puccini opera.
Modena commune in Emilia-Romagna region of north Italy.
Frisco (slang) San Francisco.
Torino Italian name for Turin, commune in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, on the Po River.
Normal school a school, usually with a two-year program, for training high school graduates to be elementary schoolteachers.