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A Farewell to Arms

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A Farewell to Arms

That fall, Henry and Catherine live in a brown wooden house on the side of a mountain. They enjoy the company of Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen, who live downstairs, and they remain very happy together; sometimes they walk down the mountain path in Montreux. One day Catherine gets her hair done in Montreux, and afterwards they go to have a beer--Catherine thinks beer is good for the baby, because it will keep it small; she is worried about the baby's size because the doctor has said she has a narrow pelvis. They talk again about getting married, but Catherine wants to wait until after the baby is born when she will be thin again. Three days before Christmas, the snow comes. Catherine asks Henry if he feels restless, and he says no, though he does wonder about his friends on the front, such as Rinaldi and the priest. Henry decides to grow a beard and by mid-January, he has one. Through January and February he and Catherine remain very happy; in March they move into town to be near the hospital. They stay in a hotel there for three weeks; Catherine buys baby clothes, Henry works out in the gym, and they both feel that the baby will arrive soon. Finally, around three o'clock one morning, Catherine goes into labor. They go to the hospital, where Catherine is given a nightgown and a room. She encourages Henry to go out for breakfast, and he does, talking to the old man who serves him. When he returns to the hospital, he finds that Catherine has been taken to the delivery room. He goes in to see her; the doctor stands by, and Catherine takes an anaesthetic gas when her contractions become very painful. At two o'clock in the afternoon, Henry goes out for lunch. He goes back to the hospital; Catherine is now intoxicated from the gas. The doctor thinks her pelvis is too narrow to allow the baby to pass through, and advises a Caesarian section. Catherine suffers unbearable pain and pleads for more gas. Finally they wheel her out on a stretcher to perform the operation. Henry watches the rain outside. Soon the doctor comes out and takes Henry to see the baby, a boy. Henry has no feeling for the child. He then goes to see Catherine, and at first worries that she is dead. When she asks him about their son, he tells her he was fine, and the nurse gives him a quizzical look. Ushering him outside, the nurse tells him that the boy is not fine--he strangled on the umbilical cord, and never began to breathe. He goes out for dinner, and when he returns the nurse tells him that Catherine is hemorrhaging. He is filled with terror that she will die. When he is allowed to see her, she tells him she will die, and asks him not to say the same things to other girls. Henry goes into the hallway while they try to treat Catherine, but nothing works; finally, he goes back into the room and stays with her until she dies. The doctor offers to drive him back to the hotel, but Henry declines. He goes back into the room and tries to say good-bye to Catherine, but says that it was like saying good-bye to a statue. He leaves the hospital and walks back to his hotel in the rain. Commentary Henry and Catherine's simple domestic rituals in the first half of this section illustrate their simple happiness together, and make the tragedy of the second half of the section all the more painful. Catherine's haircut, Henry's new beard, their walks through the mountains, and their time with the Guttingens all signify a world that Henry and Catherine have longed for, devoid of war and filled with tranquil time together. Throughout this section, however, as throughout the novel, Hemingway uses subtle actions and words to foreshadow Catherine's death, such as her attempt to keep the baby small by drinking

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