A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“The others are illustrated,” he said.

“It will be a great happiness to read them. Where did you get them?”

“I sent for them to Mestre. I will have more.”

“You were very good to come, father. Will you drink a glass of vermouth?”

“Thank you. You keep it. It’s for you.”

“No, drink a glass.”

“All right. I will bring you more then.”

The orderly brought the glasses and opened the bottle. He broke off the cork and the end had to be shoved down into the bottle. I could see the priest was disappointed but he said, “That’s all right. It’s no matter.”

“Here’s to your health, father.”

“To your better health.”

Afterward he held the glass in his hand and we looked at one another. Sometimes we talked and were good friends but to-night it was difficult.

“What’s the matter, father? You seem very tired.”

“I am tired but I have no right to be.”

“It’s the heat.”

“No. This is only the spring. I feel very low.”

“You have the war disgust.”

“No. But I hate the war.”

“I don’t enjoy it,” I said. He shook his head and looked out of the window.

“You do not mind it. You do not see it. You must forgive me. I know you are wounded.”

“That is an accident.”

“Still even wounded you do not see it. I can tell. I do not see it myself but I feel it a little.”

“When I was wounded we were talking about it. Passini was talking.”

The priest put down the glass. He was thinking about something else.

“I know them because I am like they are,” he said.

“You are different though.”

“But really I am like they are.”

“The officers don’t see anything.”

“Some of them do. Some are very delicate and feel worse than any of us.”

“They are mostly different.”

“It is not education or money. It is something else. Even if they had education or money men like Passini would not wish to be officers. I would not be an officer.”

“You rank as an officer. I am an officer.”

“I am not really. You are not even an Italian. You are a foreigner. But you are nearer the officers than you are to the men.”

“What is the difference?”

“I cannot say it easily. There are people who would make war. In this country there are many like that. There are other people who would not make war.”

“But the first ones make them do it.”


“And I help them.”

“You are a foreigner. You are a patriot.”

“And the ones who would not make war? Can they stop it?” I do not know.

He looked out of the window again. I watched his face.

“Have they ever been able to stop it?”

“They are not organized to stop things and when they get organized their leaders sell them out.”

“Then it’s hopeless?”

“It is never hopeless. But sometimes I cannot hope. I try always to hope but sometimes I cannot.”

“Maybe the war will be over.”

“I hope so.”

“What will you do then?”

“If it is possible I will return to the Abruzzi.”

His brown face was suddenly very happy.

“You love the Abruzzi?”

“Yes, I love it very much.”

“You ought to go there then.”

“I would be too happy. If I could live there and love God and serve Him.”

“And be respected,” I said.

“Yes and be respected. Why not?”

“No reason not. You should be respected.”

“It does not matter. But there in my country it is understood that a man may love God. It is not a dirty joke.”

“I understand.”

He looked at me and smiled.

“You understand but you do not love God.”


“You do not love Him at all?” he asked.

“I am afraid of Him in the night sometimes.”

“You should love Him.”

“I don’t love much.”

“Yes,” he said. “You do. What you tell me about in the nights. That is not love. That is only passion and lust. When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve.”

“I don’t love.”

“You will. I know you will. Then you will be happy.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest