Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Ernest Hemingway’s “In Another Country” describes the relationships that develop in Milan among an American and five Italian soldiers who have been wounded and are receiving physical therapy. The story is told from the perspective of the American. The townspeople, with the exception of the café girls, resent the young men because they are officers; this resentment, in addition to the young soldiers’ war experiences, sets them apart from the street life in Milan.
Within their group, however, there are also differences. The American has received a medal for his accidental war injury. Three young Italians from near Milan, in contrast to the American, have received wounds and medals because of bravery in battle. Another young Italian from a good family was wounded after only one hour on the front line. The American feels close to this young man because his bravery could not be tested. After cocktails, the American thinks that he might have done all the things that the Italians did to receive their citations. However, he knows that he “would never have done such things” and acknowledges that he is “very much afraid to die.”
All the wounded men go to the hospital every afternoon to use machines for physical therapy. The doctor assures the American that he will again play football even though his knee does not bend. An Italian major, who used to be the greatest fencer in Italy before he was wounded, befriends the American, assisting him in learning to speak Italian grammatically. Although the youth of the American and the Italians is emphasized, the major seems to be more mature. Unlike the three young “hunting-hawks,” the major does not “believe in bravery.”
Near the conclusion of the story, the major’s young wife suddenly dies. He is distraught and lashes out at the American but then apologizes and tells him of his loss. After three days of mourning, the major returns to the hospital wearing a black band on his sleeve.