Notes on Characters from A Farewell to Arms

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A Farewell to Arms Major Characters

Frederic Henry: Frederic Henry is the protagonist of the tale. He is an American serving as a Lieutenant in the Italian Army. Hemingway leaves no clue as to why Fred was in Italy at the beginning of the war or how long he has been serving. He commands a group of ambulances. After returning from a leave, he is immediately smitten with Miss Catherine Barkley. Their love affair is passionate and long-lasting. He is seriously wounded in the legs and spends several months recovering in a hospital. When he returns to the front, Italian troops are retreating and he is eventually forced to desert the Army. He flees with Catherine to Switzerland where they spend their last few months together.

Lieutenant Rinaldi: Rinaldi is Fred's companion who introduces him to Miss Barkley. In the beginning of the story, it is Rinaldi who is in love with Catherine, not Fred. Rinaldi is always Fred's close friend. He tries hard to entertain him when he comes back from his prolonged medical leave, but things are different. Rinaldi's last appearance in the novel is that of a manic and possibly depressed drunk. Rinaldi is a surgeon who spends most of his time operating.

Priest: The priest, who is given no other name, is a moral and philosophical force in Fred’s life. Although he appears only a handful of times, these appearances usually end up in long philosophical conversations about war and love. The priest visits Fred when he is wounded and speaks with him when he comes back from his leave. The priest comes from a rural Italian community and is opposed to the war.

Miss Barkley: Miss Catherine Barkley is Frederic Henry's love interest in this novel. She is English and serving as an assistant nurse for the British hospitals in Italy. She originally joined because she was following her fiancee to war. He died a year before in France. Catherine loves Fred deeply and nearly worships him at different moments in the story. She is supportive when he leaves the Army and flees with him to Switzerland, carrying their unborn child.

Minor Characters

Captain: This is one of the captains at Gorizia. He is the chief taunter of the priest and disappears by the end of the novel.

Major: This officer is Fred's commanding officer at Gorizia. He is lively and joins the taunting of the priest early on in the novel, but by the retreat from Gorizia, he has become more serious. He defends the priest and is fond of Fred.

Miss Ferguson: She is almost always with Miss Barkley from the beginning of the story until they are separated in Stresa. She is from Scotland and very critical of Fred. She is more serious about Catherine's pregnancy than Catherine, and often criticizes both Catherine and Fred.

Rocca: A soldier who jokes about the priest.

Manera: Fred's driver who is killed in the explosion that wounds Fred.

Passini: One of Fred's drivers before he is wounded. Passini is very much against the war and thinks that everyone should stop fighting.

Miss Gage: Miss Gage is one of the first nurses at the American hospital in Milan. When Fred first sees her, he thinks she is pretty, but he later changes his mind. She often has drinks with Fred and tries to help him hide his drinking from Miss Van Campen.

Miss Walker: The second nurse Fred sees during his stay at Milan. Miss Walker is an older nurse.

Miss Van Campen: The head nurse at the hospital in Milan. She is easily offended and has a great dislike for Fred. She tries to be nice to him when he first arrives in Milan but she gets steadily more frustrated.

Dr. Valentini: The doctor who ends up operating on Fred in Milan. Dr. Valentini operates the next day, rather than six months later as the other doctors had promised.

Old Meyers: An old criminal who is released from prison because of age. He gives Fred gambling advice and appears when they go to the racetrack.

Ettore Moretti: An Italian captain Fred knows and talks to in a bar. He is a genuine hero who has won many medals, but Catherine doesn't like him because he brags. Fred admires him to a certain extent. Ettore makes fun of the American singers, especially Simons.

Simmons: The American studying singing in Italy. He is not a very successful singer in this book. When Fred arrives in Milan after having deserted the army, Simmons gives him clothing and advice.

Crowell Rodgers: A man who accompanies Miss Ferguson with Fred and Catherine when they go to the horse races.

Gino: He is an Italian soldier who Fred relieves when he arrives at Bainsizza.

Bonello: Bonello is another one of Fred's drivers in the retreat from Gorizia. He finishes off one of the engineers, who in an attempt to desert, is shot by Fred. After the death of Aymo, he leaves Fred and Piani to be captured because he thinks he is more likely to survive this way.

Piani: Another of Fred's drivers in the retreat from Gorizia. He is the driver who stays with Fred until he jumps into the river.

Aymo: Aymo is one of Fred's drivers during the retreat from Gorizia. He is the one who picks up the two sisters. His truck is the first to get stuck. As they try and cross a river, and just before he is killed, Aymo admits to Fred that they are all Socialist.

Bartender (Emilio): The bartender, named Emilio, is their friend in Stresa. It is from Emilio that Fred learns where to find Catherine. Fred goes fishing with Emilio. Emilio warns Fred that he is going to be arrested in the morning and he helps them escape, giving them his boat to use to get to Switzerland.

Count Greffi: The count appears in the hotel at Stresa to play billiards with Fred. They talk about politics, war, and love. It is apparent that the pair have played together before. The count is much better than Fred.

Mrs. Guttingen: The woman from whom Catherine and Fred rent a place to stay in Montreux over the winter.

Mr. Guttingen: Mrs. Guttingen’s husband.

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