Home > Uncategorized > Ernest Hemingway: “It doesn’t finish. There is no finish to a war.”

Ernest Hemingway: “It doesn’t finish. There is no finish to a war.”

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Ernest Hemingway: Selections on war

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Ernest Hemingway
From A Farewell to Arms (1929)

ernesthemingway

“I believe we should get the war over,” I said. “It would not finish it if one side stopped fighting. It would only be worse if we stopped fighting.”

“It could not be worse,” Passini said respectfully. “There is nothing worse than war.”

“Defeat is worse.”

“I do not believe it,” Passini said still respectfully. “What is defeat? You go home.”

“They come after you. They take your home. They take your sisters.”

“I don’t believe it,” Passini said. “They can’t do that to everybody. Let everybody defend his home. Let them keep their sisters in the house.”

“They hang you. They come and make you be a soldier again. Not in the auto-ambulance, in the infantry.”

“They can’t hang every one.”

“An outside nation can’t make you be a soldier,” Manera said. “At the first battle you all run.”

“Like the Tchecos.”

“I think you do not know anything about being conquered and so you think it is not bad.”

“Tenente,” Passini said. “We understand you let us talk. Listen. There is nothing as bad as war. We in the auto-ambulance cannot even realize at all how bad it is. When people realize how bad it is they cannot do anything to stop it because they go crazy. There are some people who never realize. There are people who are afraid of their officers. It is with them that war is made.”

“I know it is bad but we must finish it.”

“It doesn’t finish. There is no finish to a war.”

“Yes there is.”

Passini shook his head.

“War is not won by victory. What if we take San Gabriele? What if we take the Carso and Monfalcone and Trieste? Where are we then? Did you see all the far mountains to-day? Do you think we could take all them too? Only if the Austrians stop fighting. One side must stop fighting. Why don’t we stop fighting? If they come down into Italy they will get tired and go away. They have their own country. But no, instead there is a war.”

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