What is the message of the story "In Another Country"?Ernest Hemingway

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As a Modernist story, Hemingway's "In Another Country" reflects the increasing sense of the uncertainty of the human experience and the apparent meaninglessness of life.  The narrative begins with odd lines that reflect these themes,

In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more.

The narrator and five Italian soldiers go to a hospital in Milan where they receive therapy for war-related injuries. However, the American soldier who is the narrator finds himself unlike the Italians in more than nationality.  For one thing, he has acquired his medal from an accidental injury, rather than one from battle.  But, despite their differences, there is a detachment that describes the men in their sense of unity because they have shared in the war experience. 

The major, whose injured hand has now withered, comes every day regularly despite his not believing in the therapy machines.  Nevertheless, he adheres to form and does what is expected of him.  For, this is all he can do because his wife has died and "he did not believe in the machines." In fact, he is rather nihilistic, not believing in much of anything and telling the narrator that a man should not marry because he "will lose everything" as the major has done recently.  But, in the face of this all, the major retains his professionalism; he is the true Hemingway hero, believing in nothing, but out of this nothing, he restores order and control. The message of Hemingway's story, then, is that in the midst of all the false hopes of machinery and war, man must create his own ordered existence out of his new comprehension of the meaningless of so much in life.  He must retain his own "essence" and his sense of identity as a man, in creating his own life--an Existentialist theme. 


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