Summary and Analysis
Book Three: Chapter XXV
Lieutenant Henry returns to the front, where he is told by the major that the summer has been bad for the Italian forces. Henry is reunited with Rinaldi, and the two friends go to dinner at the mess, where the latter baits the priest aggressively.
In many ways, this chapter recapitulates the opening of the novel: Again, it is autumn, and "the trees were all bare and the roads were muddy." Rinaldi still torments the priest. Two things have changed, however: the fortunes of the Italian troops and Lieutenant Henry himself. Of the latter, Rinaldi observes, "You act like a married man."
Hemingway here employs the character of Rinaldi as a kind of foil, or contrast, to Henry. Henry departed the front due to his injury and has matured as a result of the love he shares with Catherine Barkley. Rinaldi, left behind, has grown increasingly bitter and hostile due to the stress of the war. "This war is killing me," he says, and the statement may be more than metaphorical. Rinaldi believes he has contracted syphilis (a terminal illness), presumably from sex with prostitutes. Again, the author links sex and death, via war.
Caporetto village in present-day Slovenia, the scene of a battle in World War I in which the Italian army was defeated by Austro-German forces (1917).
the French will hog them all The major predicts, correctly, that most of the American troops will be sent to the Western Front.
"Does she — ?" The dash here takes the place of a vulgar term for a sexual act. Throughout the novel, Hemingway will substitute dashes for obscene expressions. (Ironically, A Farewell to Arms was nevertheless banned in Boston because of its supposed obscenity.)
the snake of reason a reference to the serpent in the story of the Garden of Eden, from the Book of Genesis in the Bible.
The apple the fruit of knowledge, offered by the serpent to Eve. When she shared the apple with Adam, they were cast out of Eden by God.
" . . . two other things; one is bad for my work and the other is over in half an hour or fifteen minutes." drinking and sex, presumably.
Saint Paul the Apostle Paul.
Purissimo very pure.
Sporchissimo very dirty.
" . . . Saint Paul . . . was a rounder and a chaser and then when he was no longer hot he said it was no good. When he was finished he made the rules for those of us who are still hot." According the Book of Acts in the New Testament, St. Paul was originally a persecutor of Christians named Saul; he saw Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and was converted.
"What are you eating meat for? . . . Don't you know it's Friday?" Traditionally, Roman Catholics refrain from eating meat on Friday.
"What if I have it. Everybody has it. The whole world's got it. First . . . it's a little pimple. Then we notice a rash between the shoulders. Then we notice nothing at all. We put our faith in mercury." A description of the symptoms and treatment of syphilis.
bread pudding with hard sauce a custard dessert made with pieces of bread, raisins, or other fruit, etc., served in this case with a sweet, creamy mixture of butter, powdered sugar, and a flavoring such as vanilla extract, rum, or brandy.