What is one internal conflict in "In Another Country"?Ernest Hemingway

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Among the men who come to the hospital for physical therapy in Hemingway's "In Another Country," is the major, who had been an accomplished fencer before the war. His hand, which has been severely injured in the war, has atrophied and is useless.  However, he does not have any faith in the rehabitative benefits of the machines, nor does he believe in bravery. 

One day, as he engages in conversation, he asks the narrator if he is married. "No, but I hope to be," replies the narrator; the major becomes angry,

"A man must not marry...If he is to lose everything, he should  not place himself in a position to lose that.  He should find things he cannot lose."

These words he utters with bitterness and anger as he looks straight ahead. Clearly, then, the major has some internal conflicts. As he goes to leave, he pats the narrator and apologizes, "I am so sorry...My wife has just died."  When the narrator offers condolences, the major tells him that he cannot resign himself to this loss. After three days, he returns and gets on his machine, turning his head to look out the window.

The major is the Hemingway hero who sees the nothingness of life.  His hand is ruined and he will never fence again; he has been "wounded out of the war," so his military career is over, and--worst of all--his beloved wife has died.  Bereft, he stoically observes the form necessary to his rank while internally his heart conflicts with the injustice and meaninglessness of life for him now as he looks out the window at the void.


We’ve answered 317,487 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question