Summary and Analysis
Frederic Henry fishes on the lake with the barman at his hotel while Catherine Barkley visits Nurse Ferguson. After spending the afternoon in bed with Catherine, Henry plays billiards with his friend, the 94-year-old Count Greffi.
This is a transitional chapter in the narrative. Although apparently fishing with the barman, Frederic Henry is also reconnoitering an escape route from Italy into neutral Switzerland. The intensity of his love for Catherine Barkley is emphasized as well; he tells her that he has nothing when they're apart and that he feels faint from loving her so much. When he loses her at novel's end, the reader's own feelings of loss on Henry's behalf will therefore be intense.
In fact, as his talk with Count Greffi reveals, the once-indifferent Henry has truly found something to believe in. He tells the Count that what he values most is someone he loves and that he "might become very devout," elaborating that his religious feeling comes at night. Like Catherine, Henry has made a religion of their love.
The justification by Hemingway of Henry's desertion from the army continues in the form of the wise Count's opinion that the war is stupid. Henry continues to feel strange in civilian clothes, and he is disinclined to discuss the war at all, betraying lingering feelings of guilt. Yet the author discourages us from truly questioning, and therefore becoming distracted by, the morality of Henry's abandonment of the cause.
San Dona town on the Piave River, in Italy just east of Venice.
Cortina D'Ampezzo town in the Carnac Alps, in Italy due north of Venice.
Cadore region in the Carnac Alps, east of Cortina D'Ampezzo.
Metternich Prince von (1773-1859), Austrian statesman and diplomat.
Isola Bella an island in Lake Maggiore, on the Italian side of the border.
strike the pull on the line by a fish seizing or snatching at bait.
gunwale the upper edge of the side of a ship or boat.
Abyssinia former name for Ethiopia.
L'heure du cocktail (French) cocktail hour.
Othello with his occupation gone The hero of Shakespeare's tragedy Othello commands the Venetian forces who travel to Cypress to fight the Turks. Othello's wife, Desdemona, dies near the conclusion of the play.
franc the basic monetary unit of Belgim, France, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
"Le Feu" by a Frenchman, Barbusse . . . "Mr. Britling Sees Through It" contemporary novels.
Croyant (French) believing.