A Farewell to Arms

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A Farewell to Arms Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Henry goes to pay a visit on Catherine the next day. At the hospital, he speaks with the head nurse, who asks why he, an American, joined the Italian army. He answers that he happened to be in Italy and spoke Italian. She tells him to come back in the evening if he wants to see Catherine, who is on duty.
Henry's cocky reply about joining the army suggests that he isn't yet fully aware of what it means to take on the duties of a military officer in war.
Themes
War Theme Icon
Self vs. Duty Theme Icon
When Henry returns that night, Catherine is in the garden with Helen Ferguson, another English nurse. After Helen departs, they talk about Catherine's nursing duties until Henry suggests they stop talking about the war. As Henry had planned, he tries to kiss her. She slaps him. He makes her laugh by saying that at least they are no longer talking about the war.
Henry and Catherine's agreement to not talk about the war is their attempt to create a world of their own, apart from the horrors of war. This is the first of many times they will try to find fulfillment in each other instead of dwelling on the war.
Themes
War Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Self vs. Duty Theme Icon
Catherine eventually relents and lets Henry kiss her. Afterward, she cries on his shoulder and asks him to be good to her. He obliges by putting his arm around her, though he isn't sure what's going on. She tells him they are going to "have a strange life."
Henry was just out to have a fling with Catherine. But her prediction of their life together indicates that, even though they just met, she wants to treat their flirting as a serious relationship.
Themes
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
Henry goes back to his room, where Rinaldi wants to know all the details of what happened between Henry and Catherine. Henry responds only by saying that he and Catherine are friends.
Henry's refusal to treat Catherine as just another conquest foreshadows the deeper feelings he will develop for her.
Themes
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Manhood Theme Icon
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