A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

“How do you feel, Tenente?” Piani asked. We were going along the side of a road crowded with vehicles and troops.


“I’m tired of this walking.”

“Well, all we have to do is walk now. We don’t have to worry.”

“Bonello was a fool.”

“He was a fool all right.”

“What will you do about him, Tenente?”

“I don’t know.”

“Can’t you just put him down as taken prisoner?”

“I don’t know.”

“You see if the war went on they would make bad trouble for his family.”

“The war won’t go on,” a soldier said. “We’re going home. The war is over.”

“Everybody’s going home.”

“We’re all going home.”

“Come on, Tenente,” Piani said. He wanted to get past them.

“Tenente? Who’s a Tenente? A basso gli ufficiali! Down with the officers!”

Piani took me by the arm. “I better call you by your name,” he said. “They might try and make trouble. They’ve shot some officers.” We worked up past them.

“I won’t make a report that will make trouble for his family.” I went on with our conversation.

“If the war is over it makes no difference,” Piani said. “But I don’t believe it’s over. It’s too good that it should be over.”

“We’ll know pretty soon,” I said.

“I don’t believe it’s over. They all think it’s over but I don’t believe it.”

“Viva la Pace!” a soldier shouted out. “We’re going home!”

“It would be fine if we all went home,” Piani said. “Wouldn’t you like to go home?”


“We’ll never go. I don’t think it’s over.”

“Andiamo a casa!” a soldier shouted.

“They throw away their rifles,” Piani said. “They take them off and drop them down while they’re marching. Then they shout.”

“They ought to keep their rifles.”

“They think if they throw away their rifles they can’t make them fight.”

In the dark and the rain, making our way along the side of the road I could see that many of the troops still had their rifles. They stuck up above the capes.

“What brigade are you?” an officer called out.

“Brigata di Pace,” some one shouted. “Peace Brigade!” The officer said nothing.

“What does he say? What does the officer say?”

“Down with the officer. Viva la Pace!”

“Come on,” Piani said. We passed two British ambulances, abandoned in the block of vehicles.

“They’re from Gorizia,” Piani said. “I know the cars.”

“They got further than we did.”

“They started earlier.”

“I wonder where the drivers are?”

“Up ahead probably.”

“The Germans have stopped outside Udine,” I said. “These people will all get across the river.”

“Yes,” Piani said. “That’s why I think the war will go on.”

“The Germans could come on,” I said. “I wonder why they don’t come on.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything about this kind of war.”

“They have to wait for their transport I suppose.”

“I don’t know,” Piani said. Alone he was much gentler. When he was with the others he Was a very rough talker.

“Are you married, Luigi?”

“You know I am married.”

“Is that why you did not want to be a prisoner?”

“That is one reason. Are you married, Tenente?”


“Neither is Bonello.”

“You can’t tell anything by a man’s being married. But I should think a married man would want to get back to his wife,” I said. I would be glad to talk about wives.


“How are your feet?”

“They’re sore enough.”

Before daylight we reached the bank of the Tagliamento and followed down along the flooded river to the bridge where all the traffic was crossing.

“They ought to be able to hold at this river,” Piani said. In the dark the flood looked high. The water swirled and it was wide. The wooden bridge was nearly three-quarters of a mile across, and the river, that usually ran in narrow channels in the wide stony bed far below the bridge, was close under the wooden planking. We went along the bank and then worked our way into the crowd that were crossing the bridge. Crossing slowly in the rain a few feet above the flood, pressed tight in the crowd, the box of an artillery caisson just ahead, I looked over the side and watched the river. Now that we could not go our own pace I felt very tired. There was no exhilaration in crossing the bridge. I wondered what it would be like if a plane bombed it in the daytime.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest