By Hemingway Ernest
By Hemingway Ernest
Ernest Hemingway was born in Illinois in 1899 to conventional, middle-class parents. As he got older, he resented his parents for their conventional ways and morals and began to incorporate their beliefs into his stories. He briefly worked as a newspaper write, but when he was twenty years old he joined the Italian Red Cross and served as an Italian ambulance driver in World War I. Two of the experiences that Hemingway had while in the war were the inspiration for “A Farewell to Arms”, which is one of his most well-known and successful novels.
The first experience was when Hemingway was struck by a mortar round which nearly killed him and he was sent to a hospital in Milan. In the hospital, Hemingway had his second inspirational experience: he fell in love with a nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky. It has been widely believed that Hemingway’s relationship with Agnes inspired the relationship between Catherine and Lieutenant Henry in “A Farewell to Arms”. While recovering Hemingway settled into his writing and married the first of four wives. He began to publish the books that would make him a household name in the 1920’s.
“A Farewell to Arms” has been praised by critics for the powerful writing style and the vivid and realistic descriptions of life during and after the war. Despite the fact that Hemingway has been seen as a tremendously skilled writer, the quality markedly deteriorated post-World War II, along with Hemingway’s mental and physical health. He earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1952 for “The Old Man and the Sea” and a Nobel Prize in 1955 before taking his own life six years later, in 1961.
A Lieutenant in the Italian Army, Frederic Henry, is American driving an ambulance in Italy during World War I. He soon meets a young woman named Catherine who was dating a friend of his but soon Henry and Catherine begin a romance with one another. Henry is injured while in battle, and he is brought to a hospital in Milan, where he learns that he needs to have surgery, but the recovery process will be at least six months. Henry decides he does not wish to wait that long and recruits a surgeon by the name of Dr. Valentini who is willing to do the operation straight away. As Henry is recovering from his operation he finds out that Catherine has been transferred to Milan and will be aiding him in his recuperation process, much to his joy.
The relationship between Henry and Catherine, which started out casual and flirtatious, has now become a full-blown love affair, filled with genuine, loving emotions. Henry is granted a three week leave while he is recovering, during which he wishes to go on a trip with Catherine, who has just informed him that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Henry is diagnosed with jaundice which Miss Van Campen believes he has acquired purposefully to receive leave time, and she revokes his leave and sends him to the front. When Henry arrives at the front, a bombardment begins which results in many men being killed and officers being captured, though Henry narrowly escapes by jumping into the river and swimming for his life. When Henry gets back to Milan and meets Catherine in Stresa, the two flee to Switzerland to get away from the war and have a life together.
One morning Catherine goes into a labor that is filled with complications and ends up giving birth to a stillborn son. Later that night Catherine also dies, of a hemorrhage. Henry is lost without Catherine and tries to say goodbye to her, though he cannot and finds himself walking to his hotel alone in the rain.
Lieutenant Frederic Henry
Henry is the narrator of the novel. He is an American who is serving in the Italian army during World War I as an ambulance driver. While Henry has little passion for life, he does go toward his duties with a quiet strength and courage.
It is not until Henry meets Catherine that he finds something he is passionate about and something that gets him through the day-to-day horrors of war. Henry’s actions in war are selfless, and he does not mind putting himself out there, but shudders at the terms “hero” or “glory” because he sees little to no meaning in them.
Catherine is working as a nurse’s aide in an Italian hospital during World War I. She has lost her fiancé recently while he was in battle and thus she has a fear of abandonment.
Catherine very beautiful and at first she is sought after by Rinaldi though it soon becomes obvious that she and Henry have a significant connection. She plays coy with Henry at first because of her dead fiancé, but they soon fall deeply in love with one another and Catherine becomes pregnant with their child. Unfortunately, Catherine and the baby both die during the child birth process.
Rinaldi is Henry’s roommate and best friend during the war. He is a surgeon and he gets through the war by giving into his hedonistic pleasures. The only thing that is pertinent to Rinaldi is beautiful women, and he makes a life in Italy of seducing every beautiful woman he can find.
Catherine was once a target of Rinaldi, but when he discovered that she preferred Henry he backed off. Despite Rinaldi’s hedonistic desire toward women, he also expresses an interest in kissing Frederic from time to time, though that may not be indicative of his sexual preference.
Helen is a friend to Catherine and also works as a nurse’s aide at the hospital in Italy. Helen is extremely friendly toward Henry when he first meets Catherine though she soon begins to resent him for what he has made of Catherine’s life, by have an intimate relationship with her and impregnating her out of wedlock.
Helen is slightly jealous of Catherine’s happiness when she seems to be eternally lonely, but also feels sorry for Catherine and the stress that she is going through by being in a relationship with Henry.
The priest is constantly made fun of by the other men who do not share his religious beliefs. Mealtime in the mess hall has become the common place to tease the priest though he does not seem to care about what they think.
Henry is one of the few people who do not participate in taunting the priest, as he is not sure where his religious allegiance lies, but he sees nothing wrong with the priest’s faith. The priest is exceedingly kind, and Henry develops a respectful friendship with him and they discuss the war together and, surprisingly, speak remarkably little of religion.
Miss Van Campen
Miss Van Campen is in charge of the hospital in Milan and takes an immediate dislike toward Henry. She is extremely strict in following the hospital policies and refuses to get Henry a bed until she has a doctor’s orders or give him any alcohol unless the doctor orders it that way. She makes one peace-offering when Henry first arrives, sending him a spiked eggnog nightcap though she is not very kind to him for the rest of his stay. Eventually Miss Van Campen has Henry sent back to battle without leave after his surgery, because she feels he purposely gave himself jaundice from his drinking habit so he would not have to return to the front.
Miss Gage is one of the nurses at the hospital in Milan and becomes a friend to Henry. She is easy going and kind. Though Miss Gage does not like Catherine at first, Henry promises her that the two of them will become friendly with one another. Miss Gage allows Henry to drink while he is in the hospital and will even have a drink with him as they gossip.
Aymo is a fellow ambulance driver and a friend of Henry. When the troops are retreating after getting the word that the Austrians are coming for them with the help of the Germans, Aymo is one of the drivers that work with Henry to get everyone out safely.
Aymo takes it upon himself to make sure that two teenage girls who are terrified of him make it to safety and he takes them in his car. When Henry is forced to shoot one of the men, who are not cooperating, Aymo steps in and shoots the man again, putting him out of his misery. Shortly after this moment Aymo himself is killed by fellow Italian soldiers who it appears have gone rogue.
Ralph is a student studying opera in Milan and an immensely talented singer. Henry befriends Ralph when he is at the recovery hospital in Milan. When Henry flees from the battle, and arrives in Milan Ralph is the first person he contacts. Ralph tells Henry he will do anything he can to help him in his situation and then gives him civilian clothing to wear so he can get to Stresa safely.
Dr. Valentini is a surgeon at the military hospital Henry visits when he first hurts his leg. Henry refuses to have the surgery that the doctors want him to have because it requires too much time lying in bed before even having the operation.
Dr. Valentini comes in, makes friends with Henry and even has a drink with him. He tells Henry that he will perform the operation for him the following morning, rather than making him wait six months. Henry likes him because he is remarkably calm, collected, and confident, all traits Henry admires.
Ettore is also an American from San Francisco who is fighting in the Italian army, though as his name suggests he is of Italian roots. Moretti is the opposite from Henry; he brags about everything. He is a highly decorated soldier, which is something to be proud of as Henry knows, but he goes around showing off his medals and searching for praise and gratitude.
Henry finds these qualities vile and dislikes Moretti because of his attitude about his achievements and his status as a braggart. He is anxious to go to battle and believes in glory, which is one of the words Henry has a hard time accepting.
Emilio is the bartender at the hotel in which Henry stays when he gets to Stresa. Emilio and Henry become fast friends and even spend time finishing together during Henry and Catherine’s short stay.
Emilio wakes Henry in the night to inform him that the military police will be arresting him in the morning, and he must flee. He provides Henry and Catherine with the supplies they will need for the journey and allows Henry to pay him whatever he has available. He also gives them his boat to use and tells Henry he can send him money for it later. Emilio proves an essential part of Henry’s escape from the military.
Bonello, like Henry and Aymo, is also a driver in the Italian army. Bonello is a part of the retreat when the Germans are said to be coming, but he ducks out early. When Bonello and Piani go off to find food Piani returns alone because Bonello has decided to run and hope that he is captured because he thinks that his best chance of escape is an escape while he is being taken in. This foreshadows Henry’s escape as he does so when he is about to be questioned. Bonello is ruthless and has a bit of a temper problem which is shown when he unloads an entire round from his pistol into a man who has already been shot.
Piani is the fourth driver that participates in the retreat, along with Henry, Bonello, and Aymo. Piani is the one who is with Bonello when he decides to flee and ends up being the only driver who stays with Henry until he jumps into the river at the end. It is unknown what happens to Piani, but it is assumed that he is captured, interrogated, and killed which is exactly what Henry was escaping from.
Myers and his wife are an old couple that Henry befriends in Milan. Myers is an old criminal who has been released from jail because of his age. He likes to spend his time at the races and is tremendously successful there, but he does not like to tell anyone his secrets.
One day he goes to the races with Henry and Catherine and Catherine remembers some of the tips that Myers has told them, but, unfortunately, it does not make them very much money. It is obvious that Myers is quite fond of Henry, or he would not have shared any tips with him at all.
Love is central to the novel as it is the driving force for Henry. Henry’s entire world revolves around Catherine as she is all he thinks about. Even when the baby is born and Henry sees that there is something wrong he feels nothing for it, but rather rushes in to make sure that Catherine is alright.
Henry’s entire life from the moment he meets Catherine seems to be a journey to get to wherever she is under every circumstance. The love is all-encompassing and bordering on infatuation or obsession. When Catherine is gone, Henry feels as though he has nothing left in his life and he has no reaction to his love being gone.
Isolation is an important thing for Catherine and Henry as they feel lonely when they are in a crowd together. When they are alone they feel closer and happier, and somehow less lonely than when they are surrounded by others. Catherine and Henry enjoy their isolation so much that in the months before the baby comes they spend as much time together as possible because they worry that the baby will ruin their alone time. Catherine and Henry seem to feel as though no one else understands them or the hard times they know they will face together.
The novel demonstrates the true horrors of war, not from an outsider’s perspective but from the point of view of those who are directly involved. The connections that the men have with their fellow soldiers are beneficial to them, as is shown in Henry’s relationship to Rinaldi and the priest.
The men have to hold their relationships close, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future, or they will never get through the day to day hardships of war. While Hemingway’s descriptions of the war are historically accurate, it is not the facts that matter, but rather the men themselves and what they experience.
Some may think that the soldiers in this novel are not particularly courageous because a few of them makes the moves to escape the war but escaping is courageous just as fighting is. The men who escape risk being caught and killed, and they are running from a situation where they cannot survive. Also, the men who do fight show their courage because they are at a great disadvantage in the war especially when Austria and Germany begin to fight against the Italians. They are even courageous enough to allow themselves to experience happiness when it presents itself, even if it may be short-lived.
Rain appears regularly throughout this novel, and it nearly always brings with it destruction. The rain acts as an omen for terrible things to come. As Catherine points out, the rain means bad things for people like them. She may mean for military people, or she may mean for those who are in a relationship during times of war because of the destruction it inevitably brings. Water is not always equal to destruction, however, because the water serves as a means for Henry to escape to freedom on more than one occasion.
Diversions make life bearable for the soldiers, as a means for escaping the horrific realities of war. The men find their diversions in alcohol, card games, brothels, and love. While Henry finds his biggest diversion in Catherine, who gives him a reason to come out of the war alive, other men, like Rinaldi, enjoy hedonism. The men pretend they are ignorant about the war because to them it is only real if they think about it. The less the men think about the war the less they have to become depressed and pessimistic about.
The men in the novel are forced to abandon things they genuinely care about due to their military duties. Catherine has a fear of abandonment due to the death of her fiancé who was killed in battle and thus she fears being abandoned by Henry. Henry cannot help abandoning Catherine when duty calls but he is always sure to get back to her.
Catherine even fears that Henry will leave her after she has the baby because he will not love her anymore if she has gained weight and let her hair grow out. Ironically, it is Catherine who ends up leaving Henry though she does it only in death.
The only man who truly embraces religion in the novel is the priest, and he is teased relentlessly for his dedication to his faith. The other men hold no store in religion as no God would allow the world to fall to pieces the way it does in war. The priest admits that he does not understand it but has faith regardless. Henry is the only one who does not pick on the priest though he admits his faith in religion is not the strongest either. Count Greffi says that he thought he would find religious devotion as he got older, but he discovered that to not be true.
Death is something that constantly shakes Henry though he shows little emotion at any of it. He first deals with the death of Passini that he feels is his fault, then the death of Aymo by their own people, and finally the death of Catherine and their son together.
Henry does not allow himself to develop strong emotions toward many people because he feels that he will always lose them. Even his relationship with Catherine starts out with no real emotion in it. After Catherine’s death Henry still shows little emotion and cannot even say goodbye to her, perhaps because he has taught himself to expect death in the face of war.
Despite the fact that Henry is the main character of the novel, he regards himself as the least significant part. It is some distance into the book before Henry’s name is even revealed to the reader and his entire identity is as an outsider, but so is Catherine’s. Both Catherine and Henry are outsiders in Italy; Henry is an American in the Italian army and Catherine is an English woman working in an Italian hospital. It seems that Henry never truly knows who he is, except when he is with Catherine. Neither of them knows who they are as individuals, but they know who they are together.
The narrator (Lieutenant Frederic Henry, though his name is not discovered until later in the novel), telling the story in the past tense, describes living in a house, in a village that is separated from the mountains by a river in the late summertime during World War I. He recalls soldiers constantly passing by his home and kicking up dust with their boots, though as fall comes in the dust turns to mud. He can see the fiery flashes from a gunfight in the mountains and soldiers driving by with supplies. When winter comes, the weather gets much colder, and there is an outbreak of cholera that drastically affects the soldiers. By the end of war, cholera will have killed over 7,000 men.
Soon Lieutenant Henry’s platoon moves to the town of Gorizia which further from the fighting in the mountains. The men like to town because it has two brothels – one for the soldiers and one for the officers – and some cafes.
The officers have decided that, with the coming of the snow, the war will be over for the winter. In the mess hall the officers, who spurn religion, pick on the priest who simply blushes, though Henry does not join in. While Henry is not religious, he sees no reason to join the other men.
The men all get into a discussion about where Henry should go on leave; while the priest thinks that Henry should visit Abruzzi the other men think he should go somewhere more exotic like Capri, Rome, or Sicily. When the officers tire of this conversation, they all head out to the brothel.
Henry’s roommate is a fellow lieutenant and also a surgeon named Rinaldi. Henry has just returned from leave, and he discusses his trip with Rinaldi, saying that he toured all over Italy. Rinaldi tells Henry that they do not need to travel to meet women because plenty of beautiful women have just been brought to the front to work as nurses and Rinaldi has fallen in love with one named Catherine Barkley.
Henry loans Rinaldi money so he can use it to make Catherine think he is rich. When the officers are eating dinner the following evening, the priest discovers that Henry did not visit Abruzzi, and he is hurt, though Henry explains, drunkenly, that circumstances did not allow for it.
Henry is awoken by the sound of guns the next morning. He stops by the garage to speak to the mechanics who are working on the ambulances and then goes to the hospital to see Catherine with Rinaldi. Rather than speak to Catherine, Rinaldi spends his time speaking to a nurse named Helen Ferguson and Henry speaks to Catherine.
Henry is immediately taken aback by Catherine’s beauty and finds it odd that she carries a stick that resembles a riding crop. Catherine tells Henry that it belonged to her fiancé who had been killed in war. When Catherine inquires, Henry tells her he has never loved. When the men are leaving the hospital, Rinaldi realizes that Catherine seems more interested in Henry than in him.
Henry goes to see Catherine again the following day but finds that she is unavailable until seven o’clock when her shift ends. Henry heads back to the trenches and looks at the progress being made on the roads that will soon serve as the means to make an offensive attack. After dinner, Henry heads back to see Catherine and finds her in the garden.
Henry and Catherine chat about Catherine’s job and quickly decide not to talk about the war. Henry makes a move to put his arm around Catherine, and, though she resists at first, she eventually allows it, though when Henry goes in for a kiss she slaps him across the face. Soon, Catherine does allow Henry to kiss her and she immediately begins crying and tells him that they will have an odd life together. When Henry returns to the barracks that night Rinaldi picks on him for his “glow”.
After two days, Henry returns to see Catherine again, and she asks him if he is in love with her; when he says that he is she tells him to call her by her first name. The couple strolls through the garden together and Catherine tells him that she loves him as well, and the two days without him were almost unbearable.
Henry thinks to himself that Catherine is probably slightly insane, but he kisses her anyway, fully aware that he does not actually love her. Henry feels as though he is getting himself involved a highly complex game. Catherine, as though she can read Henry’s mind tells him she is not crazy, and it seems she is playing the game, as well. When Henry kisses her again, she abruptly stops and tells him to leave for the night. Henry is confused, and when he returns home Rinaldi can tell, relieved that he did not get mixed up with Catherine.
Henry picks up a soldier on his way home from post the next day. He finds that the soldier has a hernia but has gotten rid of his thruss (a device to help a hernia) in the hopes of being taken off the front. He does not want his commanding officers to find him, because he knows they will be familiar with his trick so Henry instructs him to give himself a bump in the head so he has a legitimate reason to be in the hospital.
Henry thinks about the offensive that will begin in two days and wishes he were somewhere else, perhaps Milan having dinner and wine with Catherine. When he goes to visit Catherine that evening, drunk and chewing on coffee beans to sober up, Helens turns him away with the information that Catherine is ill and will not see him. Henry feels terribly lonely.
The following day Henry is informed of an attack that will be occurring that night. On the way to the front, Henry’s car passes the hospital, and he stops in to see Catherine. He informs Catherine that he will be otherwise involved that night, and she wishes him luck, giving him a St. Anthony medal for protection. Henry quickly leaves Catherine and heads back to the car. The car cavalry heads off toward Pavla, the site of the battle.
The atmosphere is ominous in Pavla as Henry spots the trenches filled with ammunition and sees the observation balloons from Austria hanging in the air. Henry and his men are put into a dugout and begin chatting with the other men about the possibility of ending the war, though some men think that it will go on forever if neither side stops fighting.
They grab some food from the wound-dressing station, and, as they are eating, the bombs begin to drop. Henry feels a blast, and suddenly he cannot breathe. The mortar round that blew up killed one of the men next to Henry and injured the other man and himself. Henry is carried away by two of the other drivers and taken to the wound-dressing station to get his nearly-destroyed leg taken care of.
Henry finds himself in the field hospital, and he is in extreme pain. Rinaldi comes to visit and tells Henry that he will be receiving an honor for heroism during battle though Henry insists that he was not heroic at all, he was just there. Rinaldi insists that Henry will be decorated, despite how he feels. Rinaldi gives Henry a nice bottle of cognac and leaves him alone, promising that he will soon send Catherine to visit him.
That evening the priest visits with Henry in the hospital, admitting that he misses seeing Henry in the mess hall. He brings Henry some English newspapers, netting to keep the mosquitos away, and a bottle of vermouth. As the men drink and chat they get on the subject of war and whether or not it is hopeless to wish for its end. The priest says it is not hopeless, but he has a hard time hoping sometimes.
The priest tells Henry that he dislikes being harassed by the other men for his faith, but he is proud of his relationship with God. Henry says he does not know if he believes, but the priest notices in Henry an ability to love deeply and tells him so. Henry is skeptical of his ability to give himself totally over to another person. The priest takes his leave for the night, and Henry soon drifts off to sleep.
Henry is being shipped to a hospital in Milan because the field hospital will need all of its beds for when the offensive begins. Before Henry is to be shipped off, he is visited by Rinaldi and another man from his company.
They get drunk and discuss the war, as President Wilson has declared war on Germany and Henry believes he will declare war on Austria soon as well, which is tremendously exciting for the Italians. Rinaldi tells Henry that Catherine will be transferred to the Milan hospital in which he will be recovering, much to Henry’s joy. On the train, the next day Henry drinks so much that he throws up all over the floor.
After a two day trip, Henry arrives in Milan and is unable to get a bed at first because the nurse on duty, Mrs. Walker says she needs a doctor’s orders to admit him. Henry asks the men who are clumsily carrying him and causing him pain to bring him into a room so he can sleep. The next morning he is woken by a young nurse named Miss Gage to take his temperature and Mrs. Walker comes into to change his bedding.
That afternoon Henry meets Miss Van Campen, the superintendent of the hospital and tells her he would like wine with his meals, which she refuses since it is not ordered by a doctor. Henry, obviously not getting wine from Miss Van Campen, sends a porter out to get him a few bottles, as well as some newspapers. That night, Miss Van Campen sends him eggnog spiked with sherry, which Henry believes to be a peace offering.
Miss Gage finds an empty bottle of Vermouth under Henry’s bed, and he thinks she may tell on him but instead she asks why she was not invited to drink with him. She tells Henry that Catherine has arrived at the hospital, and she is not too fond of her, but Henry thinks they will like one another just fine. Soon a barber and porter come to the room to give Henry a shave, per his request, and he wonders by the barber is so rude to him.
The porter tells him that the barber thought he was an Austrian and seriously considered slicing his throat, which the porter seemed to find amusing. Catherine comes to see Henry and he realizes as soon as he sees her that he truly is in love with her. Henry brings Catherine into his bed, and they have sex for the first time.
A small, frail doctor comes in the morning to see Henry and attempt to remove the shrapnel from his knee. The doctor tires of the mundane and precise task quickly and calls in a few doctors for a consultation. The doctors agree that Henry should not have an operation for six more months, an idea that sounds unbearable to Henry as he cannot possibly stay in bed that long.
Henry asks for a second opinion, and, within a couple hours, he is introduced to Dr. Valentini. Henry finds Dr. Valentini to be cool, confident, and cheerful as the men chat and have a drink together. Dr. Valentini tells Henry that he will operate on him in the morning.
The night before Henry’s operation Catherine stays with him. The two lie in bed together and stare out into the night. Henry fears that someone will discover them lying in bed together, but Catherine tells him that everyone else is asleep so no one will come in.
In the morning, Henry wishes he could have breakfast in the park, but Catherine tells him that he must get ready for surgery, despite his efforts to get her back into bed. She tells him that he will be groggy from medication that evening and to be careful that he does not tell anyone about their relationship, as the medication often makes patients talk too much.
They begin to discuss their relationship, and when Catherine asks Henry how many women he has been with he tells her she is the only one. Despite the fact that Catherine is sure he is lying, she is happy with his response to her question.
Henry falls ill after his operation, and while he is recovering three new patients are admitted. One of the guys blew up a fuse cap in his own face, and another guy has malaria, and another has both malaria and jaundice. Helen becomes Henry’s ally as she passes notes to Catherine for him when she is working.
Henry asks Helen if she wants to come to their wedding, but Helen does not think that Henry and Catherine will get married. She worries that Catherine is getting sick and tells Henry so. Henry talks to Miss Gage about Catherine taking a couple of days off of work to rest and she agrees to it. After three days off, Catherine comes in to see Henry, and they are ecstatic and passionate to be reunited.
Henry continues healing and learns to use crutches to help him walk by summertime. He and Catherine spend a lot of time together out and about in Milan and spend their nights together. They discuss the topic of marriage though both of them are opposed to it for the time being. Catherine feels that a married woman would not be able to stay in the military hospital so she is content with where their relationship is for now. She tells Henry that she is fully committed to him regardless of marriage, sure that while many terrible things will probably happen to them, infidelity will not.
Henry spends a lot of his time wandering around Milan and makes friends with some locals, mainly an older couple called the Meyerses. Henry sees the Meyerses one day while walking the streets, and after parting ways, he buys some chocolates for Catherine. He heads into a bar where he runs into a guy from San Francisco who is also serving in the Italian army.
The man, Ettore Moretti, has many war medals and Henry considers him a real hero but finds him quite bland. He goes back to the hospital and tells Catherine he ran into Moretti, whom Catherine is not fond of because she does not consider him a gentleman. Henry and Catherine talk for hours though when it starts to rain, Catherine cries. She tells Henry that rain is “hard on loving”.
Henry and Catherine take the Myers’ tips to the races and bring with them Helen Ferguson, or “Fergie” as Henry calls her, and one of the other guys from the hospital. Though the Myers’ do well in the races, they are reluctant to share all of their secrets.
The race that is going on that day is all horses who have never won big but Catherine spots something she thinks is suspicious. She finds a horse that looks as though it has an unnatural purple-hue to it as though its fur has been dyed to conceal its identity, and perhaps it is a champion.
They bet on the horse, but, unfortunately, do not make very much money off the race. Catherine soon grew uncomfortable being in the crowd so she and Henry went off by themselves. They both enjoy being alone together, claiming that being alone together rather than in a crowd makes them feel less lonely somehow.
As September comes around, the Allies are losing the war, and Henry is informed that if things keep up the way they are the Allies will lose the war within the next year. Henry has nearly healed from his surgery and is expected to make a return to the front after three weeks of leave. He and Catherine are planning to take a trip somewhere together, and as they are planning Catherine tells Henry that she is three months pregnant with their child. Worried that Henry will want to leave Catherine tells him that she will not cause any trouble for him but Henry surprises her by saying he loves her and is happy they are having a child. Henry tells Catherine that “a coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one” and they try to recall who made that sentiment but cannot remember. Catherine muses that the intelligent, brave men probably die thousands of deaths but are smart enough to not say anything.
It starts to rain again and just when Henry is about to take his leave he develops jaundice. Miss Van Campen decides that Henry’s jaundice has been caused by his excessive drinking, as she has found all of the empty liquor bottles that Henry has been stashing under his bed. Miss Van Campen thinks that Henry has made himself sick on purpose so that he does not have to return to battle and so she decides to punish him by putting in a petition to take away his leave, and so it is.
Henry begins packing his things and saying his goodbyes as he is heading to the front. As he is walking down the street, he sees Catherine in a cafe and signals for her to join him. Henry remarks that the couple they pass embracing outside a cathedral is like them, but Catherine disagrees as she thinks there is no one like them. He stops to buy a new gun, and he and Catherine decide to get a hotel room so they can be alone before he leaves again.
Catherine feels like a cheap prostitute, but they have no other choice for the time being. Henry worries about how Catherine will deal with having the baby while he is gone, but she assures him she will be fine and have a home set up for him when he returns.
A carriage picks up Henry and Catherine and takes them to the train station where they will part ways. When they arrive Henry gets out to catch his train and sends Catherine in the carriage back to the hospital. Henry tells Catherine to be careful to take care of herself and the baby, whom he refers to as “little Catherine”. Henry has caused a stir on the train because he has asked someone to save a seat for him while he says his goodbyes and the train is terribly crowded. Henry decides to offer his seat to the officer who has been complaining and spends the night on the floor instead.
When Henry returns to the front in Gorizia, he speaks with the lead major about the status of the war, and the possibility of it coming to an end. The major is pleased about Henry’s decorations but tells him that had he been sent on leave he would likely not have returned.
Henry goes off in search of Rinaldi whom he has not seen in quite some time. Rinaldi checks out Henry’s knee and cannot believe he was sent back to the battle after his surgery. He asks Henry if he is in love with Catherine, if they are married, and whether she is any good in bed, a question which Henry deems inappropriate as it is a private matter.
The men toast to Catherine and head to dinner where Rinaldi makes fun of the priest for old time’s sake, despite the fact that his audience is considerable smaller than it was just a few months before.
When the men are done with dinner, Henry stays and has a talk with the priest. They discuss the ending of the war, which the priest thinks will happen soon though he is not sure why. He thinks that the war has made the men more mild and gentle as that tends to happen. He cites Jesus Christ as an example as his struggles made him a gentler man. Henry no longer cares about victory or even believes in it because even if they win they have lost too many people to make the victory a happy one. The priest asks what Henry does believe in these days, and Henry replies “sleep”.
The next day Henry goes to Bainsizza where the fighting is occurring and learns from another soldier named Gino about the weaponry of the Austrians. He says that if the Austrians are to attack then the Italians will essentially be helpless. Henry feels like there is no meaning to words like “sacred” or “glorious” anymore and the only words that have meaning are names and numbers.
A bombardment occurs that night, and the Italians learn that the Germans are included in the enemy, which scares them because they have never had to deal with the Germans before. They find out that the Italian line has been broken, and everyone is being evacuated. Henry finds out that Rinaldi has gone to the hospital, and he and some of the other drivers – Bonello, Piani, and Aymo – stop to rest before continuing on their way.
A motorcade of soldiers exits the town together forming a seemingly endless line. They take turns sleeping and driving and shortly after Henry wakens he finds that the line has stopped moving.
Henry checks on the other men, finds that they are okay, and goes back to Piani’s truck where he falls asleep once again. Henry has dreams of Catherine and even speaks to her in his sleep. More people join the retreat that night, mostly peasants, and the next morning Henry and his men decide to leave the retreat and take another route themselves. They stop at a farmhouse for breakfast before continuing on their journey.
While on their retreat, the car driven by Aymo gets stuck due to the soft ground, and Henry knows the only way to ensure it does not happen again is to cut brush to lie over the ground and drive across. The other men do not want to help because they feel if they stop for any reason the enemy may catch up to them. Henry gets frustrated with the men for not wanting to help and shoots one of them. Bonello takes Henry’s gun from him and shoots the man again, killing him.
The men use everything they can find to keep the car out of the mud, but nothing seems to be working. They decide to leave the car there and continue on with the other cars, though they do not get very far before they are stuck again. Two girls that had been riding with Aymo are given money, and sent to a nearby village to hopefully take them out of danger, and the men are forced to retreat on foot as they cannot move their vehicles.
The men see the Germans coming and try to avoid them by taking another road and heading toward an embankment. The men are shot at the Aymo is killed immediately. They realize they have been shot at by the rear guard and Aymo has been killed by his own people out of fear. They realize they are in more danger from their own people than the Germans and find a farmhouse to hide out in until dark.
Piani and Bonello go to look for food, but Piani returns alone as Bonello has gone looking for the enemy with the hopes of being taken in because he feels that is his best chance of escaping. The next day they hope to rejoin the Italians and find a bunch of officers being interrogated to find out who is responsible for the rogue Italian soldiers who turned on their own people. Henry is seized and notices another officer being shot near him.
Henry takes the opportunity to duck away from his captors and jumps in the water to escape. He keeps swimming away until the sounds of the gunfire fade into the distance.
When Henry thinks that he is far enough away he gets out of the water, careful to remove the stars on his uniform that identify him as an officer. Henry counts the money that he has on him and proceeds to walk across the Venetian Plane toward the closest military train station, which he arrives at that night.
A young soldier sees Henry, and Henry is worried that his cover is blown, but the soldier allows him on the train as he assumes that Henry belongs there. Henry hides under a tarp of canvas in the gun car so he will not be found, cutting his head in the process. He reminds himself to pick the dried blood off his head before he exits the train because he does not want to draw attention to himself.
As Henry rides under the tarp, he thinks about how strong his knee has been, surprised that the surgery was so effective. He thinks about Catherine though he tries not to because he feels he may go crazy just thinking about her when he does not know if or when he will see her again.
Henry feels sure that there is no place in the war for him anymore because his army and his friends are no longer there. Physical needs overcome Henry’s thoughts as he realizes that he needs to eat, drink, sleep, and be with Catherine. All Henry wants now is to find Catherine and take her to a place where they can be safe and happy together.
Henry lets himself off the train in Milan and goes out in search of Catherine. He stops in a wine shop for coffee and ends up having a glass of wine with the owner of the shop. The owner asks Henry if he can help him with anything but Henry says he is fine. He heads to the hospital to find Catherine but finds that she has left for Stresa.
Henry finds one of the opera musicians, Ralph Simmons, he had made friends with before he left and asks the man how he can go about getting to Switzerland to be free and meet with Catherine. Simmons gives Henry some civilian clothing and sends him on his way, wishing him good luck with everything.
Henry feels strange on the train to Stresa because as a young man he is expected to be a soldier, though he is obviously not according to the public as he is wearing civilian clothing. When he arrives in Stresa, he checks in to a hotel and tells them that he is expecting his wife to be joining him. He hears that two English nurses are at a small hotel nearby, and Henry knows that must be Catherine. When he arrives, Catherine and Helen are having lunch and Catherine is delighted to see him though Helen hates him for what he has made of Catherine’s life. Henry enjoys the night he spends with Catherine as it is true bliss for him.
The next morning Catherine realizes just how horrible Henry’s experience must have been because he does not want to read the paper or anything about the war. He tells Catherine that he will share his experiences with her someday when he fully wraps his head around it. He feels as though he has committed a crime by leaving, but Catherine assures him that he is no criminal, and she cannot wait until they take off for Switzerland together.
The next morning Catherine goes off to see Helen and Henry goes fishing with Emilio, the bartender from his hotel whom he becomes fast friends with. Emilio has told Henry that any time he wants to use his boat he can. Henry and Catherine dine with Helen for lunch and run into a man named Count Greffi whom Henry knows from an earlier trip to Stresa, who is staying with his niece at the same hotel. Henry and Count Greffi spend some time together that evening and play some pool with another. The Count tells Henry his misconceptions about religion, and they discuss the war, and whether it will end in a victory for Italy.
Henry is woken by Emilio that night who tells him he has heard that the military police have a plan to take Henry in when the morning comes. Emilio offers Henry and Catherine his boat, as he feels they should leave immediately and row themselves to Switzerland where they can be safe.
Henry immediately wakes Catherine, so they can pack their things and leave. Emilio provides Henry and Catherine with the supplies they will need for their trip – a boat, sandwiches, and a bottle of brandy. Henry pays Emilio what he can for the supplies, and they make an agreement for Henry to send back 500 francs as payment for the boat when they get established.
Henry rows for the most of the night though it hurts his hands quite a bit due to the choppy water conditions from the storm. Catherine rows for a short time but Henry will not allow her to row for long. When they finally arrive in Switzerland in the morning, they are relieved and settle in to have some breakfast.
They are soon taken in by the Swiss guards who hold them until they can get temporary visas. Henry and Catherine are soon released, to their relief, and find themselves a hotel to stay in where they immediately go to sleep after their long and tiring journey.
Henry and Catherine set up a home in the town of Montreux and make friends with the couple who live downstairs from them, the Guttingens. Henry and Catherine immensely enjoy their life together in their cozy mountainside home and spend a lot of time in town together. One day they go to town so Catherine can have her hair done and they stop at a bar to have a beer.
Catherine is sure that drinking beer will keep the baby small in size because she is worried that she will have a hard time giving birth due to her narrow hips. Henry and Catherine approach the idea of marriage again, and Catherine feels it will be only right for them to wed to make their baby legitimate.
Catherine cannot wait to be American when they are married and see famous American landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Niagara Falls. Around Christmas time Catherine notices that Henry seems to be growing restless, and she suggests he change something about his appearance, such as grow a beard, to calm himself. They try to fall asleep at the same together, but Henry cannot sleep and he instead he lies awake and stares at Catherine because his mind will not rest.
During January, Henry’s beard grows to an impressive fullness. They continue taking walks together in town and enjoy the isolation of being together in a place where no one knows them. They worry that after the baby arrives they will no longer be able to enjoy the solitude that they hold so dearly.
Catherine tells Henry that after the baby comes and she loses the weight she will cut her hair shorter, and make herself attractive again so Henry will fall in love with her all over again. Henry tells Catherine that he loves her plenty already so that will be unnecessary.
Henry and Catherine decide to move to a town called Lausanne in March because the baby is about to come and they want to be closer to the hospital pending the baby’s arrival. Rather than find a place to call home right away they spend three weeks in a hotel. Catherine spends her days finding baby clothes and Henry spends a lot of his time working out at the gym. They try to spend as much of their time together as possible because they feel that the baby is remarkably close to making its arrival.
Catherine goes into labor around three o’clock in the morning one day and is rushed to the hospital where she is given a room and a gown. She tells Henry to go to breakfast because she feels he has time and so he does, though upon returning he finds that Catherine has been taken to the delivery room. Catherine spends most of the day inhaling anesthetic gas to help her through the pain of a difficult labor that is not making much progress.
The doctor decides Catherine needs to have a cesarean section and takes her away on a stretcher. The doctor comes out soon, fussing over the baby boy, but Henry rushes past him to see Catherine. Catherine asks about the baby, and Henry says he is fine, but the nurse, confused by this statement, pulls Henry aside and tells him that the baby had been strangled by the umbilical cord while it was still in the womb.
After dinner, Henry learns that Catherine is bleeding heavily and when he goes into see her she tells him she is dying. She asks Henry to promise her that he will never say the same things to other girls that he has said to her and Henry stays by her side in her last moments. After Catherine dies Henry tries to say his goodbyes with her but he cannot and he just leaves the hospital and walks through the rain alone, back to the hotel.
Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.