A Farewell to Arms Chapter 30
They come to a long line of abandoned trucks near a river and there is no one in sight. There is an iron bridge that looks too good not to be mined. Fred looks over it, and then down the river, he sees a car crossing another bridge in the distance.
"The sides of the bridge were high and the body of the car, once on, was out of sight. But I saw the heads of the driver, the man on the seat with him, and the two men on the rear seat. They all wore German helmets." Chapter 30, pg. 210
They realize that they are cut off. Fred is upset because there is no one to challenge the invading troops. He calms down after he takes a long drink from his canteen. The Germans are rolling in on bicycles. Fred has his little group stick close to the railroad track and they plan to travel at night. They are all worried and tense. They hear firing ahead of them and Aymo is wounded fatally. Fred blames the Italian rear guard, who are afraid of everything, for the gunfire. They have to leave Aymo in the mud, but Fred takes his papers so that he can take them to his family. He sees a farmhouse and they cross to it. Fred figures they can hide out in the barn. He also thinks that the Italians all around will be as dangerous as the Germans because they are afraid.
"The hay smelled good and lying in a barn in the hay took away all the years in between. We had lain in hay and talked and shot sparrows with an air-rifle when they perched in the triangle cut high up in the wall of the barn. The barn was gone now and one year they had cut the hemlock woods and there were only stumps, dried tree-tops, branches and fire-weed where the woods had been. You could not go back." Chapter 30, pg. 216
Fred remembers his youth and reflects on the past. He worries that he will not back to Milan. Piani finds some sausage and wine. Bonello has left to surrender himself because he is afraid he will die otherwise. They eat and drink but Fred does not feel better. They travel in the night and Fred realizes that the whole country is retreating: the peasants, the army and everyone else. His leg hurts. They join some other Italians and there are many soldiers openly throwing down their weapons and defying officers. Fred asks if Piani did not want to be captured because he is married. The march continues and Fred is surprised that the Germans have slowed their advance. They cross a bridge the next day and they pass a group of officers inspecting the retreat. They send a man to arrest Fred because he doesn't have a native accent. He witnesses a couple of other men who are executed on the suspicion of being German. He understands why they are doing this, but he doesn't want to be killed himself. He knows that they think he is German, and they have shot everyone who has been questioned so far. He jumps into the river. They shoot at him, but he clings to a piece of wood and floats downstream.