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I chose to read the novel as well as view the 1932 movie staring
Gary Cooper to review. As usual, the novel and movie are different in the
delivery of the story yet parallel most of the same aspects Hemingway was
trying to convey about love and war. The novel was much more in depth than the
movie and mostly, the novel focused more on the war than did the movie.
The novel begins describing artillery weary troops marching through
the rains of late summer. The main character is an American named Frederic
Henry. He is an ambulance driver who is marching with the troops. The American
is stationed with the Italian Army, at the front during World War I. Basically,
the first few chapters begin when Frederic returns from winter leave in early
spring. He has a roommate named Rinaldi who is infatuated with a British nurse
by the name of Catherine Barkley. Rinaldi persuades Frederic to visit the
hospital where Catherine works. After meeting her, Frederic is attracted to
Catherine. After a couple days pass, Frederic re-visit’s the hospital and he
and Catherine become affectionate and share a kiss.
Frederic and Catharine become more of an item and their relationship
becomes more serious because Frederic begins to pay her regular visits.
Catherine recognizes that Frederic is lacking in his love depth and puts an end
to the false lovemaking imposed by the not so seriously loving Frederic. On the
other issue which of course is the war, the Italian offensive is about to
resume. Frederic is sent to the front to drive the wounded back to hospitals in
the rear. At the front, Frederic and his fellow ambulance drivers sit in a
dugout. They were eating pasta and cheese and waiting for the fighting to
start. As they ate and talked, artillery shells were exploding over their heads
and then a mortar shell blasted open their dugout. One of the other drivers,
Passini, looses his leg and he dies. Frederic takes injuries to both of his
legs during the blast. His injuries are that of a serious nature.
Frederic is taken to a field hospital. His first visitor is Rinaldi
and then he is visited by a Catholic Priest. Rinaldi jokes about getting medals
for bravery from the Italian army, and jokes about other developments. The
priest is more serious and explains to Henry about love and people who wage war
and those who don’t. After a few days at the field hospital, Henry is shipped
to an American hospital in Milan. Catherine is sent there as well as there is
an excess of nurses at the front.
Frederic is the very first patient sent to the American hospital and
even the doctors have yet to arrive. After a few days the doctor arrives and
begins to remove shrapnel from Frederic’s legs. Upon removal of the shrapnel,
the doctor discovers a piece of metal that is imbedded very deep and surgery is
required. Some doctors hold a meeting and try to determine when the operation
should be performed, but Frederic refuses their recommendation to wait six
months. Dr. Valentini later declares Frederic is ok to be operated upon the
next morning and the operation is then done successfully.
At the same time, Catherine has arrived at the hospital and at this
time Frederic states his love for her. Catherine begins to work the night shift
and they become very intimate on almost a nightly occasion.
While he waits for his leg to heal during the summer, Frederic is
able to spend a vast amount of time with Catherine. The couple does a lot
together including going to the horse races. Towards the end of summer,
Frederic receives a letter from the army saying that when he is discharged from
the hospital, he will be given three weeks leave before he must return.
Catherine decides and declares that she will find a way to leave the hospital
at the same time as well.
While at the hospital and prior to his departure, Frederic has