Study Guide

A Farewell to Arms Love

By Ernest Hemingway

Love

Chapter 6
Catherine Barkley

"You don’t have to pretend you love me."

"But I do love you." (6.44-45)

A few paragraphs back he tells us he doesn’t love Catherine. A Farewell to Arms is a memory, Frederic’s memory of Catherine. He’s showing us the beginning of his love for Catherine, perhaps even the awakening of it. Do we trust Frederic here? If not, why? Is this his confession, to the reader, that he didn’t love Catherine enough at first? Does Catherine love him here?

Chapter 9

The medical captain, "What hit you?"

Me, with the eyes shut, "A trench mortar shell." (9.167)

Why does Frederic get wounded? Partly because he’s in a war, obviously. But also because he loves the men he works with so much that he must take food to them and be with them.

Chapter 10
Lieutenant Rinaldi

"We won’t quarrel, baby. I love you too much. But don’t be a fool." (10.66)

Rinaldi is warning him not to love Catherine. Remember, he knew Catherine first, and took Frederic to meet her. Rinaldi now seems to be jealous of them both, but perhaps more so of Frederic. Rinaldi parodies the stereotype of a lovers quarrel, but, at the same time, he means it. Now that Frederic is wounded, people are reacting to him even more intensely than usual.

"We are war brothers. Kiss me good-by." (10.70)

We admit it. We want to be war brothers with Rinaldi, too. We want him to call us "baby." The love between Rinaldi and Frederic is complicated. The erotic overtone of the scenes between the two men is not to be denied. Oh, you can deny it if you want. Some critics do. One 1990s critic says, "Rinaldi and Frederic are not gay and they know it." Maybe that’s true, but can we at least admit they are flirting?

Chapter 11
Frederic Henry

"But there in my county it is understood that a man may love God. It is not a dirty joke." (11.72)

The priest is visitor number two to Frederic’s sickbed. We see how hurt he is by the captain’s jokes. But the joke is only half about masturbation. The captain is also implying strongly that World War I is proof either that God doesn’t exist, or that God is evil. Either way, the priest becomes a bad guy, for loving God. But Frederic loves him. And their love is complicated.

Chapter 18
Frederic Henry

"I only wanted to for you."

"There isn’t any me. I’m you. Don’t make up a separate me." (18.21-21)

Frederic is talking about marriage, but Catherine is suggesting, as she does many times in the novel, that marriage for them is anti-climactic. Since they are already so close that they are a single person, formal marriage seems pointless.

"Besides all the big times we had many small ways of making love and we tried putting thoughts in the other one’s head while we were in different rooms." (18.14)

This is one of several places in the novel where Frederic and Catherine get all psychic on each other.

Chapter 41
Catherine Barkley

"It’s just a dirty trick."

"You dear, brave sweet." (41.270)

These are the last words that Catherine and Frederic speak. She’s talked about love and death before, in terms of "a rotten game." Her first lover died, her son died, and now she’s losing her second lover, through her own death. Is love in A Farewell to Arms all a rotten game, or a dirty trick? Or, is there deeper meaning in all novel’s the loving, even though it ends tragically?

Frederic Henry

"I had liked him as well as any one I ever knew." (30.67)

This sentence is ambiguous for sure, because Frederic uses the word "like" instead of "love," but, unless one takes a cynical approach, it actually expresses a deep love for Aymo.