A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Analysis of Part 10 (Chapters 38 - 41)

The serenity and simple happiness which Henry and Catherine find at the beginning of this section is more or less the eye of the storm. This kind of life is the kind Henry and Catherine both seek-one where there is nothing to worry about, and nothing that needs to be done. The pregnancy, however, promises to ruin this idyllic lifestyle by bringing responsibilities and worries into their lives. "She won't come between us, will she?" worries Catherine. It also creates a sense of urgency that foreshadows Catherine's death: "it gave us both a feeling as though something was hurrying us and we could not lose any time together." Indeed, from the very opening chapter, images of pregnancy have been linked to war and death, as when the soldiers "marched as though they were six months gone with child."

The end of winter here parallels the end of the winter a year ago, when Henry was forced to return from leave. A year ago, it was the time when Henry first had shrapnel blown into his leg. Spring, and the arrival of the rain, signal bad tidings to come.

It is important to note Catherine's progression throughout her stay in the hospital. At first she is excited about the pains and getting the job over with. She bears them bravely, as fits the Hemingway code hero, and manages to smile between the waves. However, nature soon gets the better of her and she begins to develop an addiction to the gas-the pains nature brings are too much. It is at this point that she breaks: "I'm not brave any more, darling. I'm all broken. They've broken me." As the labor draws on and on, she begins to fear death and consequently can no longer accept the indifference of the universe. "I won't die. I won't let myself die," she tells Henry, believing that she has some control over what happens.

Henry, too, finds himself breaking from the strain. At the beginning, when he delivers her to the hospital, he does not attempt to deny the universe's hostility: "this was the price you paid for sleeping together. This was the end of the trap. This was what people got for loving each other." As labor progresses, though, he finds it harder to face the world, and comforts himself by saying "What reason is there for her to die?" The question parallels his statement in Book One that "I knew I would not be killed. Not in this war. It did not have anything to do with me." The world, of course, is indifferent to such reasoning. In the final stages of the operation, Henry begins to cry out to God in desperation-crying out for a reason behind the universe, but of course his cries are unheard.

Catherine's death is the ultimate realization of Hemingway's philosophy. The death is a result of her pregnancy, and the pregnancy a result of love. Whether in war or in love, the universe kills indifferently. Henry understands this, and says in the final chapter: "That was what you did. You died. You did not know what it was about. You never had any time to learn." When Henry leaves the hospital and the end of the novel, he seems to have already accepted her death as something out of his control. He does not romanticize it nor does he seek any reasons. He just walks away.

Outside, it is raining. Catherine, who feared the rain, is dead, and yet the rain beats on mercilessly.