A Farewell to Arms

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A Farewell to Arms Chapter 38 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In Montreux, Henry and Catherine settle into a ski chalet owned by a kind old couple, Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen, who live downstairs. Their life is peaceful and idyllic, full of walks through nature to neighboring villages.
Catherine and Henry are living a life without responsibility. They appear to have escaped the war successfully.
Themes
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Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Self vs. Duty Theme Icon
Henry still wants to get married. Catherine is less interested in marriage, but agrees to marry once the baby is born so that it will be "legitimate." In the meantime, Catherine drinks beer, because she has heard it will keep the baby small. She is worried about the baby's size because her doctor told her that her pelvis is narrow. Catherine talks often about how grand it will be to see all the sights in America after she becomes an American through marriage.
Yet even in this peace they can't ignore the reality of the pregnancy. Catherine's nerves about the baby's size and her narrow pelvis foreshadow the complications she'll suffer during childbirth in Chapter 41.
Themes
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
As Christmas approaches, Catherine asks Henry if he is restless. He does sometimes think of Rinaldi, the priest, and the war, but assures her he is not. Nonetheless, Catherine suggests Henry change something in his life to reinvigorate it. Henry agrees to grow a beard. For her part, Catherine wants to get her hair cut short to become even more like Henry, but Henry objects. Catherine then proposes that they go to sleep at the same time, but she falls asleep first and Henry stays awake watching her.
Catherine doesn't just want to be alone with Henry, blocking out the rest of the world. She seems to want herself and Henry to be the same person, with the same haircut, going to sleep at the same time. Their failure to fall asleep simultaneously, and Henry's observation of her asleep, foreshadows Catherine's premature death.
Themes
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon