'A Farewell to Arms' Quotes

A Look at World War I Through the Writing of Ernest Hemingway

Black and white photo from the 1932 movie "A Farewell To Arms" starring Gary Cooper.
Gary Cooper in the film version of "A Farewell to Arms" in 1932.

Hulton Archive/Stringer/Moviepix/Getty Images

"A Farewell to Arms" is a novel by Ernest Hemingway that was first published in 1929. The book's popularity contributed to Hemingway's status as an American legend in literature. Hemingway drew from his wartime experiences to tell the story of Frederic Henry, a volunteer in the Italian army. The novel follows his love affair with Catherine Barkley as the first World War rages in Europe.

Here are some memorable quotes from the book:

Chapter 2

"I was very glad that the Austrians seemed to want to come back to the town sometime if the war should end, because they did not bombard it to destroy it but only a little in a military way."

"All thinking men are atheists."

Chapter 3

"It was all as I had left it except that now it was spring. I looked in the door of the big room and saw the major sitting at his desk, the window open and the sunlight coming into the room. He did not see me and I did not know whether to go in and report or go upstairs first and clean up. I decided to go upstairs."

Chapter 4

"Miss Barkley was quite tall. She wore what seemed to be a nurse's uniform, was blonde and had a tawny skin and gray eyes. I thought she was very beautiful."

Chapter 5

"American in the Italian Army."

"There were racks of rockets standing to be touched off to call for help from the artillery or to signal with if the telephone wires were to be cut."

"You see I've been leading a sort of a funny life. And I never even talk English. And you are so very beautiful."

"We're going to have a strange life."

Chapter 6

"I kissed her and saw that her eyes were shut. I kissed both her shut eyes. I thought she was probably a little crazy. It was all right if she was. I did not care what I was getting into. This was better than going every evening to the house for officers where the girls climbed all over you and put your cap on backwards as a sign of affection between their trips upstairs with other officers."

"Thank god I did not become involved with the British."

Chapter 7

"I went out the door and suddenly I felt lonely and empty. I had treated seeing Catherine very lightly. I had gotten somewhat drunk and had nearly forgotten to come but when I could not see her there I was feeling lonely and hollow."

Chapter 8

"There were troops on this road and motor trucks and mules with mountain guns and as we went down, keeping to one side, and across, under a hill beyond the river, the broken houses of the little town that was to be taken."

Chapter 9

"I believe we should get the war over."

"War is not won by victory."

"I ate the end of my piece of cheese and took a swallow of wine. Through the other noise I heard a cough, then came the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh- then there was a flash, as when a blast-furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white and went red and on and on in a rushing wind."

Chapter 10

"I will send Miss Barkley. You are better with her without me. You are purer and sweeter."

Chapter 11

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

"I would be too happy. If I could live there and love God and serve him."

"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."

Chapter 12

"The next day in the morning we left for Milan and arrived forty-eight hours later. It was a bad trip. We were sidetracked for a long time this side of Mestre and children came and peeked in. I got a little boy to go for a bottle of cognac but he came back and said he could only get grappa."

"When I woke I looked around. There was sunlight coming in through the shutters. I saw the big armoire, the bare walls, and two chairs. My legs in the dirty bandages, stuck straight out in the bed. I was careful not to move them. I was thirsty and I reached for the bell and pushed the button. I heard the door open and looked and it was a nurse. She looked young and pretty."

Chapter 14

"She looked fresh and young and very beautiful. I thought I had never seen anyone so beautiful."

"God knows I didn't mean to fall in love with her."

Chapter 15

"I have noticed that doctors who fail in the practice of medicine have a tendency to seek one another's company and aid in consultation. A doctor who cannot take out your appendix properly will recommend you to a doctor who will be unable to remove your tonsils with success. These were such doctors."

Chapter 16

"I don't. I don't want anybody else to touch you. I'm silly. I get furious if they touch you."

"When a man stays with a girl when does she say how much it costs?"

Chapter 17

"Catherine Barkley took three days off night duty and then she came back on again. It was as though we met again after each of us had been away on a long journey."

Chapter 18

"She had wonderfully beautiful hair and I would lie sometimes and watch her twisting it up in the light that came in the open door and it shone even in the night as water shines sometimes just before it is really daylight."

"Don't make up a separate me."

Chapter 19

"Always I wanted to see Catherine."

"It's all nonsense. It's only nonsense. I'm not afraid of the rain. I am not afraid of the rain. Oh, oh, God, I wish I wasn't."

Chapter 20

"Don't you like it better when we're alone?"

Chapter 21

"In September the first cool nights came, then the days were cool and the leaves on the trees in the park began to turn color and we knew the summer was gone."

"The Chicago White Sox were winning the American League pennant and the New York Giants were leading the National League. Babe Ruth was a pitcher then playing for Boston. The papers were dull, the news was local and stale, and the war news was all old."

"People have babies all the time. Everybody has babies. It's a natural thing."

"The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one."

Chapter 23

"I wish we could do something really sinful."

Chapter 24

"I watched his face and could feel the whole compartment against me. I did not blame them. He was in the right. But I wanted the seat. Still, no one said anything."

Chapter 25

"It did not feel like a homecoming."

"You are very good to say so. I am very tired of this war. If I was away, I do not believe I would come back."

"I kept this to remind me of you trying to brush away the Villa Rossa from your teeth in the morning, swearing and eating aspirin and cursing harlots. Every time I see that glass I think of you trying to clean your conscience with a toothbrush."

Chapter 27

"'It's Germans that are attacking,' one of the medical officers said. The word Germans was something to be frightened of. We did not want to have anything to do with the Germans."

Chapter 28

"What does she ride with me for if she doesn't like me?"

Chapter 30

"The sides of the bridge were high and the body of the car, once on, was out of sight. But I saw the heads of the driver, the man on the seat with him, and the two men on the rear seat. They all wore German helmets."

"The hay smelled good and lying in a barn in the hay took away all the years in between. We had lain in hay and talked and shot sparrows with an air-rifle when they perched in the triangle cut high up in the wall of the barn. The barn was gone now and one year they had cut the hemlock woods and there were only stumps, dried tree-tops, branches, and fire-weed where the woods had been. You could not go back."

Chapter 31

"You do not know how long you are in a river when the current moves swiftly. It seems a long time and it may be very short. The water was cold and in flood and many things passed that had been floated off the banks when the river rose. I was lucky to have a heavy timber to hold on to, and I lay in the icy water with my chin on the wood, holding on as easily as I could with both hands."

"I knew I would have to get out before they got to Mestre because they would be taking care of these guns. They had no guns to lose or forget about. I was terrifically hungry."

Chapter 32

"Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation."

Chapter 33

"It is now hard to leave the country but it is in no way impossible."

Chapter 34

"I know what sort of a mess you have gotten this girl into, you're no cheerful sight to me."

"If you had any shame it would be different. But you're God knows how many months gone with child and you think it's a joke and are all smiles because your seducer's come back. You've no shame and no feelings."

"Often a man wishes to be alone and a girl wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. It has only happened to me like that once."

Chapter 36

"I saw her white back as she took off her night-gown and then I looked away because she wanted me to. She was beginning to be a little big with the child and she did not want me to see her. I dressed hearing the rain on the windows. I did not have much to put in my bag."

Chapter 37

"I rowed all night. Finally, my hands were so sore I could hardly close them over the oars. We were nearly smashed up on the shore several times. I kept fairly close to the shore because I was afraid of getting lost on the lake and losing time."

"At Locarno, we did not have a bad time. They questioned us but they were polite because we had passports and money. I do not think they believed a word of the story and I thought it was silly but it was like a law-court. You did not want something reasonable, you wanted something technical and then stuck to it without explanations. But we had passports and we would spend the money. So they gave us provisional visas."

Chapter 38

"The war seemed as far away as the football games of someone else's college. But I knew from the papers that they were still fighting in the mountains because the snow would not come."

"She makes little trouble. The doctor says beer will be good for me and keep her small."

"I do. I wish I'd had it to be like you. I wish I'd stayed with all your girls so we could make fun of them to you."

Chapter 40

"When there was a good day we had a splendid time and we never had a bad time. We knew the baby was very close now and it gave us both a feeling as though something were hurrying us and we could not lose any time together."

Chapter 41

"'I will eat from a tray in the next room,' the doctor said, 'You can call me any moment.' While the time passed I watched him eat, then, after a while, I saw that he was lying down and smoking a cigarette. Catherine was getting very tired."

"I thought Catherine was dead. She looked dead. Her face was gray, the part of it that I could see. Down below, under the light, the doctor was sewing up the great long, force-spread, thick-edged wound."

"I sat down on the chair in front of a table where there were nurses' reports hung on clips at the side and looked out of the window. I could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light from the windows. So that was it. The baby was dead."

"It seems she had one hemorrhage after another. They couldn't stop it. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died. She was unconscious all the time, and it did not take her very long to die."

"But after I got them to leave and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn't any good. It was like saying good-bye to a statue. After a while, I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain."

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Lombardi, Esther. "'A Farewell to Arms' Quotes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, thoughtco.com/a-farewell-to-arms-quotes-739700. Lombardi, Esther. (2020, August 25). 'A Farewell to Arms' Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/a-farewell-to-arms-quotes-739700 Lombardi, Esther. "'A Farewell to Arms' Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/a-farewell-to-arms-quotes-739700 (accessed March 25, 2023).