The setting of this book immediately fell into place for me. Or if it wasn’t Hemingway’s setting it was what I pictured reading his words; like a Tim Burton film shot when color was first introduced in Hollywood. Opaque, simple. Staged. Colorful but inanimate. Not alive. Painted.
Then it rained.
And the contrast. Nature and war. Love and destruction. Not necessarily love and hate and I think that’s important. Because hate shrouds everything in destruction. Is love not a part of everything? Can it out-wit destruction? The question isn’t about hatred, but about death and its refusal to align with any good or bad intention or sentiment.
I didn’t really like Lieutenant Henry. He seemed disjointed from everything. Sitting in cafes after bombardments, inquiring about food when shells were dropping and seemingly contracting from Catherine all he could to give him pleasing distractions from the war. And he ate, and ate, and drank, and drank. But I think he was natural. I don’t think I would necessarily act any different than he did, behaving in a hospital the way he would in a hotel. How else would I mentally extract myself from a war-time existence?
Then the destruction. The death. The rain.
Whether he had faith in victory or defeat, love or infatuation, it rained. Destruction lied waiting for an opportune moment to pounce regardless of Henry’s true sentiments. If the Italians were defeated, people were conquered. If they kept fighting for victory, people died. And if he really loved Catherine or was simply infatuated…
The priest said:
When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve.
When nothing is immune from destruction, when rain falls on everything, does it really matter?