A Farewell to Arms

Quotes

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
3. When we were out past the tanneries onto the main road the troops, the motor trucks, the horse-drawn carts and the guns were in one wide slow-moving column. We moved slowly but steadily in the rain, the radiator cap of our car almost against the tailboard of a truck that was loaded high, the load covered with wet canvas. Then the truck stopped. The whole column was stopped. It started again and we went a little farther, then stopped. I got out and walked ahead, going between the trucks and carts and under the wet necks of the horses.

In this passage from Chapter XXVIII, Hemingway opens his description of the Italian army’s retreat. The prose is indicative of Hemingway’s style: bold, declarative sentences; a sharp eye for detail; and a rhythm that underscores the physical and emotional movement being described. Here, the rhythm of the two long opening sentences, which fluidly describe the great convergence and crawling pace of the retreating troops, is interrupted by short bursts that detail the action accurately. The repetition of “stopped” in “Then the truck stopped. The whole column stopped” jars the reader, as does the jerky motion of the subsequent “It started again . . . then stopped,” brilliantly mimicking the stop-and-go action of the troops.