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 developed jaundice and has been told he must stay for an additional two weeks. While he is staying his extra two weeks, a lady by the name of Miss Van Campben finds several empty bottles of alcohol in the armoire. She is determined that Frederic has drunk himself sick to avoid going back to the front. She reports this and turns him in. He subsequently losses his leave. Frederic and Catherine stay at a hotel together on the night before he is to go back to the from.
When Frederic gets back to the fron, the war is not going so good and moral about ending the war is low. Rinaldi is pretty depressed and finds only two things interesting at this point: alcohol and sex. Even the priest has given up hoping for victory, but still believes the war will end soon because all involved are sick and tired of it. Frederic has a different oppinion that the Austrians are winning and the war will continue. One Frederic returns to the front, he is ordered to take over the ambulance cars in the mountains on the Bainsizza. They are ordered to retreat after only a couple days of heavy rain and the Germans and Austrians have broken through the line.