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Free Study Guide-A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway-Book Notes
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CHAPTER 9

Summary

Henry drove in the straw-matting-covered tunnel and came out on a bare cleared space where the railway station had been. Holes were dug in the banks of the road where infantrymen were. There was a major at the front who promised that Henry would be decorated with a medal after the war. He met other doctors and expressed his hope that the offensive operation would be successful. Henry asked the major if there was a dugout in which his drivers could stay. He sent a soldier to show him one, which Henry and his drivers found very good. Henry got into a conversation with the other drivers, whose interest in the war seemed disconnected. They were quite sure that they were very close to the battlefield and would surely be injured or killed. Being mechanics, they all hated the war.

It was now getting dark, and the attack was soon to be launched. The drivers told him that there was nothing as bad as war. It is self-propelling; once it starts, there is no finish to it. Soldiers fought battles because they are afraid of their officers. War could be stopped if one party backs out of it, but nobody does, and so it continues. Then, the drivers asked Henry for something to eat. Grudgingly, the major gives Henry some soup, pasta and cheese, and some macaroni. Just then, an artillery shell burst and it was followed by another.


Though it was unsafe for Henry to walk back to the dugout, he nevertheless went back to hand the food to the drivers. Even as they were eating, another shell burst nearby and Henry felt the food stick in his throat. He thought he was dead and floating, but he was buried under the debris. He heard somebody crying “Mamma Mia” and discovered that it was Passini, one of his drivers, who was seriously hurt. Though he tried to tie a tourniquet around Passini’s leg, Henry discovered that it was useless, for he was already dead. He soon realized that he was very badly injured in the knee, with blood pouring from the wound. Three other drivers were also injured. A medical sergeant gave them bandages, and then Henry was taken in a British ambulance to a hospital because he was not fit to drive. Another medical captain wondered how Henry could have survived after being wounded like that. He questioned Henry as to what had hit him. The captain suspected that Henry had a fractured skull as well. Henry replied that it was a French mortar shell. The medical adjutant asked Henry several questions regarding his name, rank, place of birth, class, and corps to test whether his head was functioning properly. Later, Henry was put in an ambulance and above his own stretcher was another man, who was bleeding steadily on him. That man died before reaching the hospital.

Notes

Vivid details of war are carefully piled up in this chapter. The camaraderie that exists between officers and their subordinates is brought out very clearly. This chapter is important because of the realistic portrayal of combat and of Henry’s wound. It facilitates Henry’s removal from the battlefront. Then he is moved to a hospital, where the love between Henry and Catherine is given a chance to grow.

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Free Study Guide-A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway-Chapter Summary
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