Spoilers below for those who haven’t finished the book.
Having read the final parts of the book, I feel heartbroken at the deaths of the baby and Catherine. Hemingway set up the final chapters of the book in a way that made us anxious as we knew something awful was about to happen. There was much foreshadowing with the weather, the constant, dreadful descriptions of the rain and snow. It was bitter and concerning, especially considering the way Catherine had previously described how she hated the rain because she ”pictured Henry dead in it”. Hemingway is setting us up for the ending – we knew something vicous would happen, maybe Henry caught and arrested, but personally I was not expecting the death of both Catherine and the baby.
The way Hemingway also accelerates the months and portrays the time passing makes us apprehensive as we are made to feel as if something is coming – but we didn’t know what (besides the baby of course). Chapter 40 – ‘We lived through the months of January and February and the winter was very fine and we were very happy…In March came the first break in the winter. In the night it had started raining. ” Hemingway displays the months passing rapidly and thus the arrival of a sinister event is also following it, and there is almost a sense of irony in ‘we were very happy’ as we know the raw realism Hemingway is known for will eventually catch up, as much I was hoping it wouldn’t. The foreboding ‘rain’ just accentuates the harrowing events that we will eventually see, and it’s also very fitting how Henry is described as ‘walking out in the rain’ in the very last sentence of the novel: he has survived this far but at what cost?
Amidst all the chaos and destruction of the war, which Hemingway is able to point towards subtly by the fact that Henry still occasionally reads the papers, I was hoping that happiness would be able to outlive it, and that something as happy as Catherine’s and Henry’s relationship would last. As crazy as their relationship was, as well as their pretend marriage and their made up family existence (Catherine tells her hairdresser she has two boys and two girls), they were still content with each other and at times it was entertaining even to see them interact with the dialogue Hemingway includes. I think he led me to like their relationship, which is why I’m hurt at their demise.