A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“How many have you got, Ettore?” asked the vice-consul.

“He’s got everything,” Simmons said. “He’s the boy they’re running the war for.”

“I’ve got the bronze twice and three silver medals,” said Ettore. “But the papers on only one have come through.”

“What’s the matter with the others?” asked Simmons.

“The action wasn’t successful,” said Ettore. “When the action isn’t successful they hold up all the medals.”

“How many times have you been wounded, Ettore?”

“Three times bad. I got three wound stripes. See?” He pulled his sleeve around. The stripes were parallel silver lines on a black background sewed to the cloth of the sleeve about eight inches below the shoulder.

“You got one too,” Ettore said to me. “Believe me they’re fine to have. I’d rather have them than medals. Believe me, boy, when you get three you’ve got something. You only get one for a wound that puts you three months in the hospital.”

“Where were you wounded, Ettore?” asked the vice-consul.

Ettore pulled up his sleeve.

“Here,” he showed the deep smooth red scar. “Here on my leg. I can’t show you that because I got puttees on; and in the foot. There’s dead bone in my foot that stinks right now. Every morning I take new little pieces out and it stinks all the time.”

“What hit you?” asked Simmons.

“A hand-grenade. One of those potato mashers. It just blew the whole side of my foot off. You know those potato mashers?” He turned to me.


“I saw the son of a bitch throw it,” Ettore said. “It knocked me down and I thought I was dead all right but those damn potato mashers haven’t got anything in them. I shot the son of a bitch with my rifle. I always carry a rifle so they can’t tell I’m an officer.”

“How did he look?” asked Simmons.

“That was the only one he had,” Ettore said. “I don’t know why he threw it. I guess he always wanted to throw one. He never saw any real fighting probably. I shot the son of a bitch all right.”

“How did he look when you shot him?” Simmons asked.

“Hell, how should I know?” said Ettore. “I shot him in the belly. I was afraid I’d miss him if I shot him in the head.”

“How long have you been an officer, Ettore?” I asked.

“Two years. I’m going to be a captain. How long have you been a lieutenant?”

“Going on three years.”

“You can’t be a captain because you don’t know the Italian language well enough,” Ettore said. “You can talk but you can’t read and write well enough. You got to have an education to be a captain. Why don’t you go in the American army?”

“Maybe I will.”

“I wish to God I could. Oh, boy, how much does a captain get, Mac?”

“I don’t know exactly. Around two hundred and fifty dollars, I think.”

“Jesus Christ what I could do with two hundred and fifty dollars. You better get in the American army quick, Fred. See if you can’t get me in.”

“All right.”

“I can command a company in Italian. I could learn it in English easy.”

“You’d be a general,” said Simmons.

“No, I don’t know enough to be a general. A general’s got to know a hell of a lot. You guys think there ain’t anything to war. You ain’t got brains enough to be a second-class corporal.”

“Thank God I don’t have to be,” Simmons said.

“Maybe you will if they round up all you slackers. Oh, boy, I’d like to have you two in my platoon. Mac too. I’d make you my orderly, Mac.”

“You’re a great boy, Ettore,” Mac said. “But I’m afraid you’re a militarist.”

“I’ll be a colonel before the war’s over,” Ettore said.

“If they don’t kill you.”

“They won’t kill me.” He touched the stars at his collar with his thumb and forefinger. “See me do that? We always touch our stars if anybody mentions getting killed.”

“Let’s go, Sim,” said Saunders standing up.

“All right.”

“So long,” I said. “I have to go too.” It was a quarter to six by the clock inside the bar. “Ciaou, Ettore.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest