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THE STORY - CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
Henry's next visitor is the priest. His visit is a contrast to Rinaldi's. It's sundown, cooler. Henry says that lying in bed at dusk makes him feel like a small boy.
The talk turns to the ever-present war and is loaded with meaning. Henry suggests that the priest is suffering from the "war disgust"- perhaps the hollow feeling that sent Henry to the city instead of to Abruzzi, a disgust and uncaring that begin with the fighting but extend to all of life. The priest says that is not the case; he hates only the war. The priest spells things out neatly. The men in the Italian army don't want to fight; the officers and the "people who would make war" force them to. Henry, although not a real officer, is, according to the priest, closer to them than to the men. Even wounded, Henry doesn't see the war for what it is.
He's probably right. At this stage, frightened as he might have been at getting blown up, Henry is still learning. He may deprecate his forthcoming medals, but it's a good bet that he'll wear them.
The priest speculates about what he'll do after the war. At the mention of
the Abruzzi-that region of rural serenity-the priest brightens, and the
talk turns to love. At first it's love of God, but as the priest moves
to go, Henry asks a pointed question, "How about loving women? If
I really loved some woman..."
Note the difference between this and the close of the last chapter. The priest talks of pure love; Rinaldi complains about the same old prostitutes. The priest assures Henry that he will fall in love and be happy; Rinaldi disparagingly says there is no real difference between a good girl (like Catherine) and one of his whores. The priest and Henry part with warmth; Rinaldi leaves on the verge of a fight.
The chapter ends with a detailed description of the Abruzzi. It should be obvious now that this place is to be thought of as a kind of paradise, in contrast to the hell of the war-torn country.
Briefly Henry relates the routine of the hospital. Note how off-handedly he describes soldiers dying, the new graves in the garden, and the orderly whose job is to paint names on crosses. Understatement again.
The night before Henry is transferred to the American hospital in Milan, Rinaldi appears with a major from Henry's mess. The three get very drunk. Hemingway's lurching prose shows how even important facts of war are losing their meaning. It doesn't seem to matter who the United States declares war on. Countries are interchangeable. Japan is like France. The trio's plans for Henry in Milan involve nothing military, but center on La Scala, the city's famed opera house.
Then Rinaldi says he has a surprise for Henry: Catherine will be working at the American hospital, too. We can almost see Rinaldi's smirk: "You go to live in a big city and have your English there to cuddle you."
The next day on the train to Milan Henry pays for his drunken night with a ferocious hangover.