Study Guide

A Farewell to Arms Foreignness and the Other

By Ernest Hemingway

Foreignness and the Other

Chapter 5

"Why did you join up with the Italians?"

"I was in Italy, […], and I spoke Italian." (5.7-8)

Characters are constantly asking Frederic about this. His natural embrace of what is supposed to be foreign is foreign to some people Frederic encounters. It is also intriguing and provocative.

Chapter 10

"[…] really you are just like me underneath."

"No I’m not."

"[…] You are really an Italian. All fire and smoke and nothing inside." (10.48-50)

Did we expect him to say "Italian"? Rinaldi isn’t necessarily giving Frederic a compliment. He’s telling him they are not only "war brothers" but also brothers in emptiness. All flare and no heart.

Chapter 11

"But there in my country it is understood that a man may love God." (11.72)

The priest is perhaps the biggest foreigner in the novel. His "country" is an ideal, one which everyone wants to reach. We all want to live in a place where we’re understood.

Chapter 14

"Ho ho ho," he tried to keep from laughing. "When I tell him you were not an Austrian. Ho ho ho." (14.37)

We had to laugh, too… even though it gets at the crux of the war. Anybody can be from the "wrong" country and kill or be killed.

Chapter 19

"He’s supposed to have been in the penitentiary at home." (19.106)

Mr. Meyers is an extremely minor character, but doesn’t it give you a little creepy feeling to hear that he’s some kind of dying English criminal hiding out in Italy during the war?

Book 3, Chapter 25

"We never get anything new. We all start complete. You should be glad not to be a Latin."

"There is no such thing as Latin. That is ‘Latin’ thinking." (25.115-116)

Earlier, Rinaldi suggested that Italians are empty. Here he says they’re born "complete." Frederic’s response is most interesting. He just doesn’t get the concept of national identity.

Chapter 34

"He’s done nothing but ruin you with his sneaking Italian tricks. Americans are worse than Italians." (34.39)

This makes us remember an earlier scene where Frederic calls Rinaldi a "dago," among other things. This rare moments pop up in moments of communication frustration. When communication fails, everything seems foreign.

"Switzerland is down the lake, we can go there." (34.109)

The romance of their big escape intensifies the tragedy of the novel.

Chapter 37

"Can’t you realize we’re in Switzerland?"

"No, I’m afraid I’ll wake up and it won’t be true." (37.)

Switzerland represents that ideal: neutral ground. It’s a dream almost too big to hope for.

Book 5, Chapter 38

"I will be very glad to be an American and we’ll go to America won’t we, darling? I want to see Niagara Falls." (38.47)

Whenever Catherine talks about water, we should listen. She doesn’t fear the waterfall the way she does the rain, because the rain is chaotic and the waterfall is controlled. She doesn’t much have to worry about it helping kill people.