Summary and Analysis Book Four: Chapter XL



At winter's end, Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley leave the mountains for a hotel in Lausanne.


Symbolism alerts us that Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley's second idyll now nears its conclusion. Winter, nature's cease-fire, is at an end. "In the night it started raining," Henry tells us, reporting that it does so even high up on the mountain. Of the train trip to Lausanne, he reports that "Looking out the window toward where we had lived you could not see the mountains for the clouds." Thus there is no longer any refuge for the couple from death. The question at this point is, is it the death of their love affair? Or that of their unborn child? It is not clear yet, but the sense of foreboding in Chapter XL is so extreme as to be almost unbearable.


Lausanne a city in west Switzerland, on Lake Geneva.

Vevey a town in west Switzerland, on Lake Geneva. Significantly, it is the setting at the start of Henry James's Daisy Miller, a story that ends with the tragic death of its heroine.

cogwheel railway a railway for a very steep grade with traction supplied by a central cogged rail that meshes with a cogwheel on the engine.

Ouchy town near Lausanne, in west Switzerland.