The stars that military officers wear on their sleeves in A Farewell to Arms represent competence and duty. When Dr. Valentini agrees to operate on Henry's leg in Chapter 15, Henry is comforted not only by Valentini's brash confidence but also by the stars on his sleeve that mark him as a major. When Henry deserts and cuts off the stars from his sleeve to disguise himself, he throws away his former identity and responsibilities.
Officers' Stars Symbol Timeline in A Farewell to Arms
The timeline below shows where the symbol Officers' Stars appears in A Farewell to Arms. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...Henry asks for another opinion. A few hours later, Dr. Valentini, arrives. Valentini wears the stars of a major, cheerfully shares a drink with Henry, and tells Henry he will operate... (full context)