A Farewell to Arms

by: Ernest Hemingway

Important Quotations Explained

1. “There, darling. Now you’re all clean inside and out. Tell me. How many people have you ever loved?”
“Nobody.”
“Not even me?”
“Yes, you.”
“How many others really?”
“None.”
“How many have you—how do you say it?—stayed with?”
“None.”
“You’re lying to me.”
“Yes.”
“It’s all right. Keep right on lying to me. That’s what I want you to do. Were they pretty?”

Soon after Henry arrives at the American hospital in Milan, his relationship with Catherine Barkley becomes passionate. Initially a means of alleviating the pain of war and private grief, their affair continues to serve the very practical purpose of masking life’s difficulties. As this passage from Chapter XVI illustrates, their game of love distracts them from unpleasant circumstances—here, a procedure wherein Catherine “cleans out” Henry’s insides to prepare him for his operation. Indeed, Hemingway washes over the details of the procedure by having Catherine say, “There, darling. Now you’re all clean inside and out.” At this point, however, the couple’s game, though acknowledged by Catherine as a lie, is becoming more complicated. The reader is unsure of the depth of feeling that inspires Henry’s declaration of love and his honesty about sleeping with other women. This dialogue establishes the importance of illusion in Catherine and Henry’s budding relationship.


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