Summary and Analysis Book One: Chapter VI



After three days, the narrator again visits Miss Barkley, whose first name the writer reveals here to be Catherine. They sit in the garden beside the British hospital and talk: She asks him for reassurance that he loves her, which he provides. Then Catherine speaks of her own love for him. Later, she refers sadly to the exchange as a game, and after kissing they part for the evening.


In terms of the plot, an object that will prove significant later in the novel is introduced in Chapter VI: the pistol that the narrator is required to wear. We are constantly reminded of the nearness of war in these relatively peaceful chapters by the presence of such "props."

Meanwhile, Catherine Barkley coaxes a declaration of love from the narrator, though he tells us that it is a lie. "I did not love Catherine Barkley nor had any idea of loving her," he elaborates, comparing their affair to a game again (bridge, this time). Soon, however, the tables are turned. Catherine will not let the narrator put his arm around her, resists his kisses, and reveals that she knows he has been playing a game. She is playing one too: "You don't have to pretend you love me," she tells the narrator. "You see I'm not mad . . . ." Again, Catherine proves wiser than she at first appeared — wiser in the ways of the world, so far, than the narrator himself.

Another typical Hemingway touch ends the chapter. Often the writer lets us know how his characters are feeling not by reading their minds, describing their actions, or even quoting their dialogue, but by offering the reader the reactions that these characters inspire in others. Though he never says so explicitly, we know that the narrator is agitated after his visit with Nurse Barkley because of his roommate's response to his behavior: "Ah, ha! . . . It does not go so well," Rinaldi says. "Baby [that is, the narrator] is puzzled."


frescoes a painting made with watercolors on wet plaster.