Study Guide

A Farewell to Arms Chapter 9

By Ernest Hemingway

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Chapter 9

  • When Mr. Henry reaches the front, he observes the scene and discusses the route of departure for the ambulances with the major. Then he and the major have a drink. Mr. Henry learns that the attack is supposed to happen when it first gets dark.
  • Frederic returns to the other ambulance drivers, gives them cigarettes, and shares his information.
  • As darkness nears, the ambulance drivers and Mr. Henry debate the war, all agreeing that it’s awful.
  • After awhile, Mr. Henry goes to see if the food for the ambulance drivers is ready, and learns that the attack should begin any minute. He asks about the food and, on finding out it isn’t ready, asks for something else to eat.
  • Mr. Henry is given some cold pasta and a chunk of cheese. He is cautioned on going back out.
  • Some stretcher-bearers come bringing a wounded man.
  • Mr. Henry, against the major’s advice, goes to take the food to the men, running through the shelling.
  • In the dugout, the men begin eating, and passing around a canteen of bad wine.
  • They can hear explosions all are around them.
  • Mr. Henry hears a loud noise and sees a flash. The door to the dugout opens and a hot wind comes in.
  • He feels himself leave his body and float, then reenter his body.
  • He hears crying and maybe screaming, and realizes he can’t move.
  • Passini, one of the ambulance drivers, is next to him, with one leg missing and the other barely attached. He begs Mr. Henry to shoot him. Mr. Henry thinks of making a tourniquet for Passini, but then realizes he’s dead.
  • Then he realizes something is terribly wrong with his own leg. The other three ambulance drivers are alive. Manera and Gavuzzi carry him to the post, but keep dropping him.
  • There are many wounded and dead. Some British ambulance drivers have come, and all the ambulance drivers are very busy.
  • One of the British ambulance drivers arranges with Mr. Henry to take the ambulances that he and Passini were supposed to be driving, and plans to take Mr. Henry with them.
  • Mr. Henry protests that he isn’t the worst of the wounded and shouldn’t go before the others.
  • He is carried into the dressing station, and sees that there are operations in progress on every table. One of the captains is finishing his operation and says he will take Mr. Henry.
  • He examines him and says that he has wounds on both legs and one foot, and possibly a head injury.
  • He asks what happened to him, and Mr. Henry says he thinks he was hit by a mortar shell. After the examination, and dressing of his wounds, Mr. Henry is released to the English ambulance driver, and put in the ambulance.
  • On the way back to the town, Mr. Henry realizes that the man on the stretcher over him is bleeding and hemorrhaging, and that the blood is dripping down on Mr. Henry. He thinks the man has died, and the blood continues to drip on him.

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