A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“I do not know but I do not think it can go on much longer.”

“What will happen?”

“They will stop fighting.”


“Both sides.”

“I hope so,” I said.

“You don’t believe it?”

“I don’t believe both sides will stop fighting at once.”

“I suppose not. It is too much to expect. But when I see the changes in men I do not think it can go on.”

“Who won the fighting this summer?”

“No one.”

“The Austrians won,” I said. “They kept them from taking San Gabriele. They’ve won. They won’t stop fighting.”

“If they feel as we feel they may stop. They have gone through the same thing.”

“No one ever stopped when they were winning.”

“You discourage me.”

“I can only say what I think.”

“Then you think it will go on and on? Nothing will ever happen?”

“I don’t know. I only think the Austrians will not stop when they have won a victory. It is in defeat that we become Christian.”

“The Austrians are Christians–except for the Bosnians.”

“I don’t mean technically Christian. I mean like Our Lord.”

He said nothing.

“We are all gentler now because we are beaten. How would Our Lord have been if Peter had rescued him in the Garden?”

“He would have been just the same.”

“I don’t think so,” I said.

“You discourage me,” he said. “I believe and I pray that something will happen. I have felt it very close.”

“Something may happen,” I said. “But it will happen only to us. If they felt the way we do, it would be all right. But they have beaten us. They feel another way.”

“Many of the soldiers have always felt this way. It is not because they were beaten.”

“They were beaten to start with. They were beaten when they took them from their farms and put them in the army. That is why the peasant has wisdom, because he is defeated from the start. Put him in power and see how wise he is.”

He did not say anything. He was thinking.

“Now I am depressed myself,” I said. “That’s why I never think about these things. I never think and yet when I begin to talk I say the things I have found out in my mind without thinking.”

“I had hoped for something.”


“No. Something more.”

“There isn’t anything more. Except victory. It may be worse.”

“I hoped for a long time for victory.”

“Me too.”

“Now I don’t know.”

“It has to be one or the other.”

“I don’t believe in victory any more.”

“I don’t. But I don’t believe in defeat. Though it may be better.”

“What do you believe in?”

“In sleep,” I said. He stood up.

“I am very sorry to have stayed so long. But I like so to talk with you.”

“It is very nice to talk again. I said that about sleeping, meaning nothing.”

We stood up and shook hands in the dark.

“I sleep at 307 now,” he said.

“I go out on post early to-morrow.”

“I’ll see you when you come hack.”

“We’ll have a walk and talk together.” I walked with him to the door.

“Don’t go down,” he said. “It is very nice that you are back. Though not so nice for you.” He put his hand on my shoulder.

“It’s all right for me,” I said. “Good-night.”

“Good-night. Ciaou!”

“Ciaou!” I said. I was deadly sleepy.


I woke when Rinaldi came in but he did not talk and I went back to sleep again. In the morning I was dressed and gone before it was light. Rinaldi did not wake when I left.

I had not seen the Bainsizza before and it was strange to go up the slope where the Austrians had been, beyond the place on the river where I had been wounded. There was a steep new road and many trucks. Beyond, the road flattened out and I saw woods and steep hills in the mist. There were woods that had been taken quickly and not smashed. Then beyond where the road was not protected by the hills it was screened by matting on the sides and over the top. The road ended in a wrecked village. The lines were up beyond. There was much artillery around. The houses were badly smashed but things were very well organized and there were signboards everywhere. We found Gino and he got us some coffee and later I went with him and met various people and saw the posts. Gino said the British cars were working further down the Bainsizza at Ravne. He had great admiration for the British. There was still a certain amount of shelling, he said, but not many wounded. There would be many sick now the rains had started. The Austrians were supposed to attack but he did not believe it. We were supposed to attack too, but they had not brought up any new troops so he thought that was off too. Food was scarce and he would be glad to get a full meal in Gorizia. What kind of supper had I had? I told him and he said that would be wonderful. He was especially impressed by the dolce. I did not describe it in detail, only said it was a dolce, and I think he believed it was something more elaborate than bread pudding.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest