Summary and Analysis Book Three: Chapter XXXII



Frederic Henry lies hidden amid the guns beneath the canvas covering the train car and thinks about deserting and about Catherine Barkley.


Book Three ends quietly, with Frederic Henry's thoughts rendered in a Joycean stream-of-consciousness style. (Note the use, again, of the second-person point-of-view in the narration.) Henry justifies his desertion to himself, the desertion that in a sense he has been rationalizing from the start of the novel. "You were out of it now," he thinks. "You had no more obligation." This, of course, is the episode that gives the novel its title — a bit ironically, considering that it takes place on a train car transporting guns.

It is typical of Hemingway's heroes not to bear grudges, and Henry is no exception: "Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation," he tells us. As the story continues, he will bear the Italians no ill will — or, if he feels any resentment, he will at least refrain from expressing it.