Literapedia Book Notes for

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway


  • Lieutenant Henry (ch 1)—narrator and protagonist. He is an American soldier who joined the war on the Italian side.
  • The priest (ch2) —a military priest who is mocked by the other soldiers, but befriends Henry
  • Lt. Rinaldi (ch 3)—Henry’s friend, also an officer.
  • Helen Ferguson (ch 4)—Catherine’s friend and another nurse.
  • Catherine Barkley (ch 4)—A nurse whom Henry falls in love with.
  • Henry’s major (ch 9)—The major who is Henry’s superior
  • Passini (ch9)—ambulance driver
  • Gavuzzi (ch9)— ambulance driver
  • Manera (ch9)— ambulance driver
  • Gordini (ch9)— ambulance driver
  • Bonnello—ambulance driver
  • Mrs. Walker (ch 13)—a busy, overwhelmed nurse at the hospital in Milan
  • Ms. Gage (ch 13)—a nurse in Milan who seems to like Henry
  • Ms. Van Campen (ch 13)—the superintendent of the hospital in Milan
  • Dr. Valentini (ch 15)-operates on Henry’s knee
  • Mr and Mrs. Meyers (ch 19)—an elderly couple whom Henry spends time with in Milan.
  • Ettore Moretti (ch 19)—a soldier who brags about honors/medals, unlike Henry
  • Ralph Simmons (ch 19)—an opera singer who helps Henry escape to Stresa
  • Edgar Saunders (ch 19)—another opera singer whom Henry meets
  • Gino (ch 27) —soldier who talks about glory/honor
  • Emilio (ch34)—a bartender in Stresa
  • Count Greffi (ch35)—a rich and old man who Henry has discussions with in the hotel in Stresa

Chapter Summaries

1. The narrator describes the village he lives in during World War I. Seven thousand soldiers die of cholera in the winter.
2. Lt. Henry (the narrator) and his unit move to Gorizia. They are in a mess hall and make sexual jokes to make fun of a priest, but Henry is nice to him.
3. Henry discusses his trip with Rinaldi, and lends him money to impress an English nurse named Catherine. Henry feels bad and explains to the priest why he didn’t take his advice.
4. Henry follows Rinaldi to the hospital, where they meet Catherine Barkley and Helen Ferguson, both nurses. Henry and Catherine talk, Rinaldi thinks Catherine likes Henry.
5. Henry goes to see Catherine, misses her, and drives along the new trenches. He then sees her and, after she rejects him initially, she lets him kiss her.
6. Catherine and Henry meet and discuss their relationship. He lies and tells her he loves her, she knows he is lying and he gets confused.
7. Henry meets a soldier who has intentionally let himself get injured to avoid fighting. Henry tells him to hit his head so he can get out of the fighting definitely. Henry feels lonely when he hears that Catherine is sick.
8. Henry heads to the battle front, but stops to see Catherine. She gives him a medal to protect him.
9. Henry arrives at the front lines in Pavla, where the men debate the war. The fighting starts and Henry is hurt and taken to the hospital, where his leg is treated.
10. Rinaldi visits Henry, who is suffering, in the hospital to tell him that he will be honored; Henry doesn’t want to be. Rinaldi promises to send for Catherine.
11. The priest comes to visit Henry, and they discuss the war and religion.
12. The major and Rinaldi come to visit Henry to discuss the progress of the war (America has joined). Henry sets out for Milan, where Catherine has been transferred, and gets very drunk on the train.
13. Henry arrives at the hospital in Milan, and, after some delay, gets a room. He also meets Ms. Van Campen, Mrs. Walker, and Ms. Gage, all nurses at the hospital.
14. Miss Gage asks Henry why he didn’t share a drink with her, and tells him she doesn’t like Catherine. Henry gets a shave. Catherine arrives, Henry realizes that he loves her, and they sleep together.
15. Doctors examine Henry’s leg and decide it will take a while before they can perform surgery, but Dr. Valentini meets Henry, has a drink with him, and decides to do the surgery the very next day.
16. Catherine spends the night with Henry and prepares him for his operation. They discuss their relationship.
17. Henry gets very sick after his surgery. While he recovers, Nurse Ferguson tells him Catherine needs time off, which Henry convinces the head nurse to grant her. After Catherine gets a break, she comes back to see Henry.
18. It is summertime, Henry is walking on crutches. He and Catherine feel married, but don’t marry, since they would send her away from the front if she was a married woman.
19. Henry spends time with an older couple, Mr and Mrs Meyers. He goes to a chocolate shop to get Catherine something, and meets Moretti, Simmons, and Saunders. He then talks to Catherine about Moretti.
20. Henry, Catherine, Helen ("Fergie"), and another boy from the hospital go to the horse races.
21. Henry gets news that the Allies are losing, and he will return to the front in three weeks. Catherine tells him she is pregnant, and he is happy about it.
22. Henry gets jaundice. Ms Van Campen blames it on alcohol and takes away his stash.
23. Henry and Catherine spend one last day in Milan together before he leaves for the front.
24. Henry sends Catherine back to the hospital and gets on a train, where after a small incident he has to sleep on the floor.
25. Henry discusses the war with the mayor of Gorizia. He meets up with Rinaldi again, who wants to know about Henry and Catherine.
26. Henry has a discussion with the priest over the progress of the war.
27. Henry travels to the front, where he meets and talks with Gino. They are bombarded at night, but learn that the Italian line is broken. They return to Gorizia to find that everyone (including Rinaldi) have left.
28. The men retreat slowly out of the town, and Henry dreams of Catherine, whom he misses.
29. Aymo’s car gets stuck, and Henry ends up shooting an engineer who didn’t want to stop and help. He is wounded, but Bonello shoots him dead. They end up continuing on foot.
30. Henry and his men go along a separate retreat route, and end up getting shot at by the Italians themselves. They hide in a farmhouse, and later rejoin up with the army. The army is interrogating and shooting officers for the Italian defeat, so Henry escapes after being taken.
31. Henry escapes down a river, then in a train and in a car.
32. Henry lies under a canvas and thinks about his leg, the war and, especially, Catherine.
33. Henry gets to Milan, stops by a wine shop, and visits the hospital, where he learns that Catherine has left. He visits Simmons to learn how to escape to Switzerland.
34. Henry goes to Stresa, and is joyfully reunited with Catherine, though Helen gets angry at him for ruining Catherine’s life. He won’t read the papers, and Catherine assures him he is not bad for leaving the Italian army.
35. Henry, Catherine, and Helen have lunch. Henry meets Count Greffi again. They discuss the war and religion.
36. Emilio tells Henry that the police plan to arrest him, and give Catherine and Henry his boat and supplies to escape to Switzerland.
37. Catherine and Henry make it to Switzerland after intense rowing. They are taken by the police, but given Swiss visas.
38. Henry and Catherine have moved into a house; it is autumn. They discuss marriage, which Catherine agrees to eventually. Catherine and Henry discuss whether he feels edgy, and how to solve this..
39. Catherine and Henry go for a walk and enjoy being alone. Henry tells Catherine she doesn’t have to change for him to keep loving her.
40. Catherine and Henry move to be closer to the hospital in January.
41. Catherine goes into labor and gives birth to a stillborn child, whom Henry feels nothing for. Catherine bleeds to death with Henry by her side. He cannot find the words to say goodbye.

Book Note Creator

Dahlia M, '08