Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Still significant in the consciousness of the wounded men is the war, which represents both a challenge and a threat. Because of the war, the three young Italians with medals know that they are brave. In addition to representing a test, the war also heightens the soldiers’ awareness of death. The story opens with the line: “In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more.” The tall, pale Italian who has three medals is described as having “lived a very long time with death.” As a result, their experiences in the war have left them all “detached.”
The nature of courage is one of the central themes of “In Another Country.” The American officer is afraid of dying and lies awake wondering how he will behave when he goes back to the front. His fear is contrasted with the bravery of the three young Italians who earned their medals: “The three with the medals were like hunting-hawks; and I was not a hawk.” The bravery of the three “hunting-hawks,” however, is also contrasted with the courage of the major, who is not a hunting-hawk. The American does not understand the major, but he does recognize that he “had been a great fencer” and that he does not “believe in bravery.” The major’s self-discipline and courage prompt him to befriend the young American. He insists that the American learn to speak Italian grammatically. The major’s concern about speaking Italian grammatically illustrates the importance...
(The entire section is 563 words.)
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