Summary of “Arms and the Man” (Act-1)

“Arms and the Man” (ACT-I) Summary

Setting of the play

The play opens in a lady’s bed- chamber in Bulgaria. It is late in November in 1885. The young lady, Raina Petkoff is on the balcony in her nightgown and is lost in contemplation of the beauty of the night.

Beginning of the play

The play begins with the entry of Raina’s mother, Catherine. She informs Raina that her fiancé, Sergius has won a great victory. He defied their Russian commanders and made a cavalry charge. Both are very proud and emotional.

A disturbance

Maid- servant, Louka enters. The windows and shutters are to be closed. The Serbs are being chased by Bulgarian cavalry and there may be shooting in the streets. Catherine goes out to make things safe downstairs. Louka shows Raina that the bottom bolt of one of the shutters is gone.

Bluntschli comes in

Distant shots are heard. Raina blows out the light and hurries back to her bed. A man opens the shutters from outside, comes in and close them again. He is a Serbian artillery officer. He takes her cloak so that she may not allow anybody to come in and see her half-naked. He throws his pistol down on the ottoman.

Raina protects Bluntschli

The pursuers come into the house. Bluntschli gives Raina her cloak. Raina hides him behind the curtains. A young Russian officer comes in. He does not find Bluntschli. Louka has seen his pistol and also the man.

More about Bluntschli

The man comes out of his hiding. He tells her that he is not a Serb. He is not a Austrian. He is Swiss fighting merely as a professional soldier. His pistol was not loaded. He says that cartridges are no use in battle; he always carries chocolate instead. Old and experienced soldiers always carry something to eat. She gives him a box of chocolate creams. He eats what he gets and returns the box.

The battle described

Bluntschli is very nervous and feels shy when Rains throws the box away. He tells her that he is ready to cry. Raina says that their soldiers are not like that He says that they are young and inexperienced. Their victory that day was due to sheer ignorance of the art of war. They had thrown a regiment of cavalry on a battery of machine guns. The first man shouted his war- cry like a handsome opera hero singing the tenor part and charged like Don Quixote at he windmills. They laughed to see him. He and his regiment would have been killed, every one of them. They were saved only Because Bluntschli’s artillery had been supplied the wrong ammunition.

Raina decides to save him

Raina is deeply wounded and shows him the photograph of Sergius. Bluntschli recognizes him as the first man of the charge. Raina is angry. He tries to pacify her. He says that most likely Sergius had somehow found out that they had the wrong cartridges and knew it was safe to attack them. This makes Raina more angry for Sergius was betrothed to her. She says that he should now climb down into the street. He says he can’t and tells her to give the alarm and call the soldiers. He says that he can do nothing; he is tired and needs sleep. She calls him a chocolate cream soldier. He prepares to depart. She tells him about her family and says that they are hospitable people. She would answer for his safety. As her father is away fighting, he requests her to tell he mother about him. She goes out. He falls asleep on the bed.

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