A Farewell to Arms


Ernest Hemingway

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A Farewell to Arms: Chapter 37 Summary & Analysis

Henry rows through the night in the choppy, storm-tossed lake. Though sore, he is desperate to get across the lake before the sun comes up so that they won't be visible to customs guards. Eventually, he gets so tired that he lets Catherine row for a brief while. He tells her to be careful not to bump her belly with the oar. She responds that things might be easier if she did bump herself.
Catherine's comment about knocking herself in the belly reveals her reluctance about having the baby—it might intrude on their private love. They're fleeing in order to be alone together, but they can't escape the realities of life, including Catherine's pregnancy.
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Henry and Catherine are elated when they step ashore in Switzerland. Immediately, they go to eat breakfast, leaving their bags in the boat. When they come back for the bags, they are arrested. Henry lies to the customs officer, telling him they are tourists looking for winter sports. The guards believe them because they have passports and money. Two customs officials argue over which Swiss town would be better for winter sports. The couple decides on Montreux, a skiing town in the mountains.
Switzerland is neutral in the war, and its defenses are, apparently, more lax. The ease with which Henry fools the guards, and the guards' focus on trivialities like winter sports, seems to bode well for Henry and Catherine in Switzerland.
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