The Major in "In Another Country" did not believe in the machine. Why did he never miss a day at the hospital?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The narrator does not explain why the Major comes to the hospital so faithfully, even though he places no faith in the machine that is supposed to rehabilitate his wounded hand, but we can infer some reasons from the story's plot and character development.

The Major has been released from military service as a result of his injury. His military career is over. We can infer that going to the hospital every day gives structure and purpose to his days. At the hospital, the Major is quite sociable. He jokes with the doctor, winking at the narrator to include him in the joke. The Major enjoys the company of the others, especially that of the narrator with whom he forms a special companionship, even teaching him Italian grammar.

Before the war, the Major had been the most accomplished fencer in Italy. He gave up fencing to serve his country. After being wounded, he could no longer fence nor could he perform his military service; however, the Major is a man of courage. He carries on with life, going to the hospital every day, since that is what his life has become. After his young wife's tragic and unexpected death, the Major does not come to the hospital for three days, then he returns, to carry on in spite of his most recent and devastating loss. Like many of Hemingway's characters, the Major's quiet courage is that of endurance. He cannot control life, but he chooses to endure in spite of his losses.

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