A Farewell to Arms

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A Farewell to Arms Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Henry feels very sick after the operation, and Catherine doesn't visit him for a while. While he recovers, three new American soldiers appear in the hospital, one with malaria, one with malaria and jaundice, and a third who had tried to unscrew the fuse cap from a shrapnel shell because he wanted it for a souvenir.
The Americans are like younger versions of Henry, who joined the war on a whim without knowing the risks. The soldier injured while trying to collect a souvenir echoes Henry's own inglorious injury received while eating mac and cheese.
Themes
War Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Henry also comes to like Catherine's friend, Helen Ferguson, who has started working at the hospital and passes his notes along to Catherine. Miss Gage, meanwhile, continues to try to flirt with Henry. One day, when Henry asks if Helen if she will come to his wedding with Catherine, she replies that she doesn't think that they will actually get married. In fact, Helen has become concerned about Catherine's health, and Henry talks with Miss Gage about getting Catherine a few days off. Catherine returns three days later. Their reunion is so passionate that it feels as if she has returned from a much longer journey.
Though Henry is surrounded by many women at the hospital, some of whom flirt with him, Henry shows none of his former inclination toward womanizing. Instead, his entire emotional life now revolves around Catherine, and he imagines a future with her that seems to disregard the war entirely. Helen, however, dismisses these dreams with her insistence that Henry and Catherine will never marry and that Catherine seems unwell.
Themes
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon