Chapter 21 Notes from A Farewell to Arms

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A Farewell to Arms Chapter 21

"In September the first cool nights came, then the days were cool and the leaves on the trees in the park began to turn color and we knew the summer was gone." Chapter 21, pg. 133

The fighting at the front went badly over the summer. Fred reads about this in a detached way as he sits in a bar in Milan. He is ambivalent; the war is far away. The racing stops and the offensive begins to slow down. A British soldier tells Fred that the Italians lost 150,000 men in one battle and 40,000 in another. The same soldier predicts that the Allies could be done in another year, but that the last country to realize they were 'cooked' would be the winner of the war. Fred notes that there is a "great contrast between his world pessimism and personal cheeriness" Chapter 21, pg. 134 Fred doesn't disagree with his pessimism, he is just surprised by the contrast.

Fred's leg is better and he can walk without a limp. A man cuts out his silhouette for free. Later, he gets a letter from the army giving him three weeks leave. Fred gets other letters: one from his grandfather, one from a man flying in France and one from Rinaldi asking for news and phonograph records. He also gets the Boston paper, which he reads that night.

"The Chicago White Sox were winning the American league pennant and the New York Giants were leading the National League. Babe Ruth was a pitcher then playing for Boston. The papers were dull, the news was local and stale, and the war news was all old." Chapter 21, pg. 136

Regardless of what is happening with the war, life goes on as usual in Italy and the United States. Catherine comes in late and he tells her about the three weeks leave he has been granted. Fred does not want to go anywhere for it, because he just wants to stay with her. Catherine seems upset and Fred pressures her into telling him that she is three months pregnant. Fred tells her he isn't upset but he is worried about her. She replies, "that's what you mustn't do. People have babies all the time. Everybody has babies. It's a natural thing." Chapter 21, pg. 138 She tells him that she isn't worried. The pair gets quiet and she asks him if he's angry, and he says he feels trapped by biology. She is worried because she has never had a baby before. They agree not to fight and Fred tells her to be brave because "the coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one." Chapter 21, pg. 139. They debate this statement because Catherine thinks it came from a coward. They drink together and talk about their son being in the army and Catherine goes to make her rounds. Their mood is calmed as the night goes on. They seem not to worry.

Topic Tracking: Love and Sex 9

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