A Farewell to Arms

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A Farewell to Arms Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The night he is to leave for the front, Henry reserves a seat on the train and goes to a wine shop to meet Catherine. They stroll down the street. When they pass a soldier kissing a girl against the wall of a cathedral, Henry says, "They're like us," and Catherine unhappily replies, "Nobody is like us."
Henry still wants to believe that he and Catherine can fit normally into society, but Catherine has a different view of the world. She thinks they will always be set apart from everyone else.
Themes
War Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Self vs. Duty Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
They go into a gun shop where Henry buys a pistol and ammunition to bring to the front. Then he suggests to Catherine that they go some place where they can be alone. They go to a hotel across from the train station. When they get to their room, however, Catherine says that she feels like a whore. Henry wonders why she is starting an argument now and gets upset, but then she invites him to bed and they make love.
The pistol reminds Henry that he will soon be separated from Catherine. Catherine's comment that she feels like a whore is never entirely explained, but may imply that at this moment she feels Henry is just using her, as he has used other women, to forget about the war to which he must soon return.
Themes
War Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
While they eat dinner in their room, Henry quotes a passage from a poem by Marvell: "But at my back I always hear / Time's winged chariot hurrying near." Henry worries about Catherine being alone when she has the baby, but she tells him not to worry.
Henry's recitation of the poem shows his acute awareness of the time slipping away from them. Catherine displays her typical stoicism.
Themes
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Self vs. Duty Theme Icon