Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
The Torrents of Spring is a short parody of Sherwood Anderson’s novel Dark Laughter (1925) and a satire of literary manners and morals in the 1920’s. As such, it is not an extremely important work, but as the second published book—after the stories of In Our Time (1924, 1925)—by a major American writer, the novella has biographical and historical interest. To be enjoyed, however, it must be read first for its nonsense and humor.
For such a short work, The Torrents of Spring is surprisingly complex—an indication of its parodic purpose. Subtitled “A Romantic Novel in Honor of the Passing of a Great Race,” the book is divided into four parts, each with its own grandiose subtitle and each prefaced by an epigraph from the eighteenth century English novelist Henry Fielding. In the tradition of Fielding (who in Joseph Andrews was himself parodying his predecessor Samuel Richardson), Hemingway also conducts a humorous dialogue with his imaginary readers, explaining his novel—or urging them to get their friends to buy the book.
The structure of the work is equally elaborate, and to retell the story is to highlight its nonsense. Part 1 (“Red and Black Laughter”) opens with Yogi Johnson and Scripps O’Neil staring out the window of the pump-factory where they work at the empty yard where snow covers the crated pumps. (Dark Laughter opens with two characters named Bruce Dudley and...
(The entire section is 979 words.)
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Chapter 1 Summary
Yogi Johnson looks out the window at the snow-covered yard of the pump factory where he works in Michigan. He thinks of a line from a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley (either quoted or attributed by Johnson to “this writing fellow Hutchinson”):
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
He hopes it is true again this year. Near Johnson, a fellow worker, Scripps O’Neil, also looks out to the crated pumps. Scripps is tall and lean with a tall and lean face. When the spring comes and the snow melts, the pumps will be moved down to the train station, where they will be loaded onto flat cars and freighted away. Yogi thinks of Paris, where he had once spent two of the happiest weeks of his life. That happiness, like everything else, is behind him now.
Scripps has two wives in two separate cities in Michigan: Mancelona and Petoskey. He has not seen the wife in Mancelona for almost a year. The two of them often got drunk together. When Scripps was drunk, he and his wife were happy. Scripps thinks the drinking makes him strong. He has a daughter named Lucy, but he calls her “Lousy.” One night, Scripps awakened after being drunk for three or four days and realized he lost his wife. He walked back along the train tracks to find her. He tried to walk on the rails but could not do it, so he continued walking on the ties. It was a long walk into town, but finally Scripps saw the lights of the switchyard. He passed the high school; he thinks there was nothing Rococo about it. He compares it to the buildings in Paris, but he has never been to Paris. It is his friend Yogi who went there once.
Yogi continues to look out the window and realizes that it will soon be time to shut up the pump factory for the night. When he opens the window a little, he feels the chinook (a warm breeze that heralds spring) blowing. The workmen, many of whom are Indians, lay down their tools. The foreman is famous in the factory for having once made a trip as far as Duluth, Minnesota, where a wonderful thing happened to him. He wets his finger and holds it up in the air, feeling the warm breeze. He shakes his head and tells the other men that it is a regular...
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
The story flashes back to the night Scripps O’Neil lost his wife. Ignoring the falling snow, Scripps stands outside the Mancelona High School. A man passes by, stares at him for a while, and then moves on. Scripps looks at the school, thinking about the fact that inside are boys and girls in search of knowledge. It is this surge of interest in knowledge that is sweeping the country, he believes. He thinks of his daughter, Lousy, in there. He also thinks about the seventy dollars in doctor’s bills she has cost him. Scripps, however, is proud of her; he thinks that—for himself at least—it is too late to learn.
Scripps makes his way to his small home. He is not bothered by its size; neither is his wife. She told him often when they were drinking together that she does not want a palace but simply a place that keeps the wind out. Based on that, Scripps chose this small house. He is glad to have taken her for her word, for he is not the kind of person to want a palace either.
As he enters his home, something keeps going through his head. He tries to get it out, but to no avail. He thinks of his friend Harry Parker who had met a poet in Detroit who had written the poem “There’s No Place Like Home,” or so he claimed. Scripps had written a tune to the words of this poem and had taught it to Lucy, his wife, when they were first married. Scripps thinks that, if he had had the chance, he might have become a famous composer. Scripps decides he will have Lucy sing the song this night and vows never to drink again. He thinks drinking robs him of his ear for music. When he is drunk, the sound of trains coming through town sounds like music to him, more beautiful than music composed by Stravinsky. It is not beautiful, but he thinks so because of the drink. He decides to go to Paris, like the violinist Albert Spalding.
When he opens his front door, he calls out a greeting to Lucy, but he receives no answer. He promises himself he will never drink again, nor will he spend nights out on the railroad. He wants to buy his wife things like a fur coat and perhaps a bigger house after all. He lights the lamp and continues to call out, but the house is empty. Through the snow-filled air outside, Scripps hears the sound of an Indian war whoop.
(The entire section is 433 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
Scripps decides to leave Mancelona; he believes the place has never given him anything. He worked all his life and then lost all his savings. He is headed for Chicago to find a job. He plans on buying land in the Loop, which was beginning to become a major shopping and manufacturing district of the city. He will buy land at a low price and hang on to it.
Slowly, Scripps walks bareheaded down to the train tracks. He sees what he thinks is a dead bird, picks it up, and cuddles it inside his shirt to warm it; it begins to peck at his chest. The wind is blowing straight from Lake Superior, blowing snow before it. The train approaches, and Scripps steps away from the track to let it pass. He thinks of a saying that he attributes to William Shakespeare (in reality it was Plato): “Might makes right.” He imagines himself as the engineer of the mighty locomotive, with his hand on the throttle. This thought leads him to a quotation from an anarchist concerning being “throttled” by the powers that be. Scripps’s father used to take him to the cemetery monument where those anarchists were buried. Scripps had wanted to ride down the logging chutes. His father had been a great composer, to his mind, and his mother was from northern Italy.
Scripps looks at the cars as the train passes—they are all Pullmans. Though the train had slowed down on going through the crossing but was still too fast for Scripps to hitch a ride. He wonders who are in the cars and what they are going to do once they reach their destination. The last car passes, and Scripps watches the red light at the stern disappear into the darkness. As the bird inside his shirt flutters, Scripps starts walking down the tracks once again. He wants to get to Chicago that night, if possible, so he can start work in the morning. Scripps can feel the bird getting stronger.
On second thought, Scripps might not need to go as far as Chicago. It does not matter if the critic Henry Mencken called Chicago the Literary Capital of America, he thinks. He might go to Grand Rapids, where he might start a furniture business. His mother once pointed out a sign in electric lights and told him they were like her native Florence, and some day Scripps’s music will be...
(The entire section is 486 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
As he walks down the train track throughout the night, Scripps becomes confused. He had left home when he learned that his wife, Lucy, had left. He has no idea where she has gone, nor where his daughter, Lousy, is. He no longer cares but keeps walking until he sees a sign: Petoskey. Beside the platform is a pile of dead deer being shipped down from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by hunters. Scripps looks in the window at a man tapping something on a telegraph. He asks the man if he is a telegrapher. The man looks at him strangely, thinking, “What is this man to me?” Scripps asks him if it is hard to be a telegrapher, though he really wants to ask him outright if the town is really Petoskey. The telegrapher asks Scripps if he is a “fairy” because he is overly friendly. Scripps says he does not know what being a fairy means. The man asks him why he is carrying around a bird. Scripps is confused and wonders why someone would go into telegraphy. He begins to tell his story when the telegrapher interrupts him, saying he used to know a girl in Mancelona.
Scripps decides it would be best to shorten his story, though it will probably be useless. He looks at the pile of dead deer, thinking that at one time they too had been lovers, since some were bucks and some were does. He can tell by the “horns” (as he calls antlers), though he admits that with cats it is more difficult to tell their gender. He thinks that in France they geld cats but not horses as they do in America.
Abruptly, Scripps tells the telegrapher that his wife left him. The telegrapher says he is not surprised if he goes around with a bird inside his shirt all the time. Scripps bluntly asks what the name of the town is, though he had not wanted to. He decides that there is no real connection between himself and the telegrapher, though he had tried. The telegrapher confirms his assumption that he is in Petoskey. Scripps thanks him and then turns to walk into the town. He considers himself lucky to have sold a story for four hundred and fifty dollars before he had started on his last drinking binge with Lucy. He now wonders why had done that at all. He looks down the street and sees two Indians coming toward him. They look at him but their faces do not change. They walk into the barbershop.
(The entire section is 428 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
Scripps looks inside the barber and contemplates going in. He likes the look of the barbers in their white coats, deftly using their tools. He has money, so he feels assured that he has the right to go in. Instead, he decides he wants something to eat, plus he needs to take care of the bird.
As Scripps walks down the frozen street, he hears the sound of sleigh bells. He thinks perhaps it is Christmas. He remembers from his childhood in the South how the children would shoot off fireworks. His father had been a soldier in the Confederate army. When General William T. Sherman marched through Georgia, he had burned down the O’Neil home. Scripps recounts to himself that Sherman had said:
War is hell. But you see how it is Mrs. O’Neil. I’ve got to do it.
This last part is a questionable recollection. Scripps’s mother watched while her home burned down. Sherman explained that if Mr. O’Neil had been home, the two of them could have fought it out. As it was, the house must be burned. Mrs. O’Neil reasoned that at least the smoke would warn the other Southern women that Sherman was on his way.
Scripps passes a restaurant called Brown’s Beanery: The Best by Test. He decides this is where he wants to eat. He goes inside and asks the waitress if it is really Brown’s Beanery. She assures him that it is, “the best by test.” He orders some beans for himself and the bird. The waitress praises the bird as a “manly little fellow” and goes to fill his order. Scripps tells her his story, from the time his wife left him after drinking on the railroad track. He begins rambling, quoting lines from the comic strips, thinking that H. L. Mencken, the critic, is after him. He knows his mind is wandering because he is faint from hunger, so he asks if she can rush the beans.
When the beans arrive at his table, Scripps devours them appreciatively, as does his bird. His mind begins to clear up and he remembers the nonsense he was talking. He sees that his bird has gone to sleep. He talks to the waitress and learns that she is originally from England. She explains that she was not always a waitress. She went to Paris with her mother. Her mother disappeared, replaced by a French general. When she asked the concierge where her mother went, he said she came to the hotel with the general. She never saw her mother again and eventually came to America to become a...
(The entire section is 493 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Scripps O’Neil walks down the street of Petoskey. He avoids the barbershop he passed earlier. When he arrives at the pump factory, he is unsure that this is the right place, even though he sees pumps carried out. He fears that might be a trick. He stops one of the workmen and asks if their loads are pumps, and the workman replies that they will be in time. Scripps then knows this is the pump factory.
Scripps walks up to a door on which there is a sign: “Keep Out. This Means You.” Scripps is not sure if this means him, so he knocks on the door and then walks in and asks to speak to the manager. One of the men stops and says that he is the foreman, and what he says goes. Scripps asks if he can hire and fire people. The foreman says that he can do one as well as the other, so Scripps asks him for a job. The foreman asks if he has any experience, and Scripps admits that he has none in pumps. The foreman announces that he will be put in piecework. He calls over Yogi, a man who was standing looking out the window of the factory, and tells him to show Scripps around the place. The foreman tells Scripps that he is an Australian and then walks away.
Yogi Johnson is chunky and well built; he looks as if he has been through things. When Scripps marvels at the foreman, saying he is the first Australian he has ever met, Yogi breaks the news that he is not Australian but had just been with Australians during the war, and they made a big impression on him. Yogi was also in the war; he was the first man to go from Cadillac, Michigan.
Yogi shows him through the factory, where white men stripped to the waist and Indians wearing only breech-clouts take misfit pumps and break them up to be remade into tools. Yogi says that though the Indians work nearly naked, they have to be searched on the way out for smuggled goods. Two old men are handworkers and make the pumps designed for pump races. Scripps explains to Yogi that his wife left him, and Yogi tells him that he will probably not have any trouble finding another one. The other workers tell him to go slowly. Yogi puts Scripps to work collaring pistons. Scripps works them almost a year. In some ways it is the happiest time of his life, and in other ways it is a nightmare. Many strange things happen to him that year.
(The entire section is 440 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Scripps has finished his first day at the pump factory. It is the beginning of a long succession of days of piston collaring. He retreats to the beanery once again to eat. During the day, Scripps kept his bird with him; he cut a small slit in his shirt so the bird could peek out.
Although Scripps finds the work at the pump factory dull, he is glad he can do work with his hands. He is looking forward to seeing the waitress at the beanery again. He wonders what happened to her in Paris. Yogi Johnson had been in Paris, so Scripps decides he will get him to talk about it. Scripps is adept at getting people to talk about themselves. He would like to have asked Yogi to go with him to the beanery, but he did not dare as yet. He decides it is not good to rush things with someone like Yogi. He wonders if he had really been in the war and what it had meant to him. He is not sure Yogi is being truthful about being the first man to enlist from Cadillac (nor does he even know where that is).
As Scripps enters the beanery, the waitress puts down the newspaper she has been reading and welcomes him back. He feels something strange inside and tells her that he has been working hard all day for her. The waitress smiles and says that she has been working all day for him as well. This causes Scripps’s eyes to tear up. He takes her hand and tells her that she is his woman. The woman begins to cry and tells him that he is her man. Scripps finds it hard to keep from crying. The waitress declares that this is their wedding ceremony. All Scripps can do is repeat that she is his woman. She replies that he is her man and more; he is all of America to her.
Scripps suggests that they leave. The waitress asks if he still has his bird, and he does. She says that she will bring the newspaper with her if he does not mind. When Scripps learns that it is a British newspaper, he tells her that his family has taken it since he can remember. The waitress says that her father went to Eton with the British Prime Minister Gladstone. They leave, and Scripps promises to buy her a hat as a wedding gift because she does not have one. As they depart, the cook shakes his head, a little bit impressed.
(The entire section is 429 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Scripps and the waitress return to the beanery half an hour later as husband and wife. The beanery looks the same, but a change has come over Scripps and his wife. They are both hungry and want to eat. The replacement waitress is surprised to see them because the cook had reported that they had gone off into the night. Scripps’s new wife announces that they are married now and then asks Scripps what he wants for supper. Scripps notices that one of the customers is reading the Detroit News and tells him it is a good paper. The customer congratulates them on their marriage and says he is a married man himself. Scripps explains that his wife had left him, but the new Mrs. O’Neil tells him not to tell that story anymore because it is becoming old. Scripps begins to feel mistrustful of himself, unsure that he knows how to act now. He looks at Mandy, the other waitress, and notices how capable her hands seem.
The customer suggests that they try a T-bone steak with potatoes. When Scripps asks his wife what she wants, she says she just wants a bowl of milk and crackers. As Mandy takes his order, Scripps continues to observe her. She has a very picturesque quality in her speech, the same quality that first attracted him to Diana, his new wife. He had also been drawn to her British background. He thinks of the Scottish Highlanders who fought in the war and wonders why he had not been in the war. Yogi had been a soldier, and Scripps feels somewhat left out of the life he should have lived.
Mandy brings his food. As her hand touches his, Scripps feels a thrill go through him and thinks that his new life is now right before him. He wonders why there are no wars when he is still young enough to go off to fight. Mandy tells Scripps the story of Henry James’s last words; the American writer became a British subject on his deathbed. He was given the Order of Merit, and as it was placed around his neck, he told his nurse to put out the candle and spare his blushes. Scripps agrees that James was quite a writer. The customer asks why America was not good enough for James.
Scripps thinks about Mandy and what a background she must have had. He thinks he could have gone far with a woman like that beside him. His bird begins to peck at him, and the customer asks what the bird’s name is. Scripps has not named him yet. Mandy and Mrs. O’Neil offer suggestions from Shakespeare. The customer advises him to wait until he...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Scripps goes more slowly to his job at the pump factory after his marriage. His wife (“Mrs. Scripps”) watches him as he goes up the street. She does not find time to read The Guardian anymore, nor does she read about English politics or cabinet crises in France. She thinks how strange the French people are—the historical figures, the authors, the politicians, the actors. She thinks of other writers and wonders what it is all about and where it is taking her. She has a husband now. She is not sure if she can keep him.
Mrs. Scripps has gone from being an elderly waitress to being the wife of Scripps O’Neil, who has a good job in the pump factory. Her new name is Diana Scripps. She had been named after her mother. She looks at herself in the mirror and wonders if she can hold on to Scripps. She is worried since he met Mandy. She hopes she can have the courage to break off going to eat at the beanery with her husband, but she knows that she cannot do that. She is sure that, if she does not go with him, he will merely go without her. The more she thinks about Mandy, the more she worries that Scripps will leave her.
As she continues to go with Scripps to the restaurant, she finds she can no longer call it a beanery. When she tries, her throat chokes up. Every night they go to the restaurant, and every night Scripps talks to Mandy. Diana believes that Mandy is trying to take Scripps away from her. She thinks Mandy is no better than a slut to try to take another woman’s husband away. Mandy continues to tell Scripps stories, and Scripps continues to be fascinated. Diana’s sole purpose in life is now to hold on to her husband of just a few days.
Diana starts subscribing to several newspapers. She visits the town library and reads the book reviews in The Literary Digest. She waits for the postman to bring her copies of other literary magazines. By becoming an expert on literature, Diana hopes she can hold on to Scripps. She thinks it is beginning to work at first. Scripps enjoys as she reads sections from the newspapers and magazines to him. But soon the light in his eyes dies. She sees Harper’s Magazine and thinks this might do the trick, but she is not sure.
(The entire section is 414 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
The narrative now returns to when the story began, when the chinook is blowing and the men are leaving the factory. Scripps’s bird is singing in its cage and Diana is looking out the window, watching for Scripps. She is still wondering whether she can hold him. She also wonders, if he leaves her, will he also leave his bird? In the nights, when she touches Scripps, he rolls away from her. She views this as a sign that she cannot hold him. She spends the days reading and waiting for Scripps to come home. She reads The Century, which has a new editor. In this she tries to garner some hope that Scripps will stay with her. She waits at the window, trying to see him without having to put on her spectacles. She wants his first sight of her to be her at her best. She begins to lose her hope.
Scripps enters his home, and Diana greets him with the news of what she has been reading. He greets her and notices that she is looking worn and old. He decides he can afford to at least be polite. He asks her what the story was about. She tells him it is about a girl in Iowa and the people on the land. It reminds her of her own home in England in the Lake Country. She asks if he wants her to read it to him. He suggests that they go to eat at the beanery. She agrees, but then her voice breaks and she cries out that she wishes he had never seen that place. She wipes away her tears, but Scripps never saw them. She announces that she will bring the bird with them because it has not been out all day. They walk down the street to the beanery, but they no longer walk hand in hand. Men pass them and greet Scripps; he is well liked. The rhythm of their walking sounds to Diana like “I can’t hold him. I can’t hold him.” As Scripps takes her arm, she realizes that it is true. A group of Indians passes them and laughs. Diana does not know if they are laughing at her or if it is just some tribal joke.
The author notes that he does not think Diana will be able to hold on to Scripps but that the reader will have to see for himself. In the meantime, the story will focus on Yogi Johnson. The author does not know what will happen to Scripps and his wife, and he wishes the reader could help him.
(The entire section is 439 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Yogi Johnson leaves the pump factory and thinks that it was wise of the foreman to let them go because of the chinook wind. If there had been any accident, it would be blamed on the foreman and fall under the Employer’s Liability Act. As Yogi walks down the street, he worries that he does not seem to want any woman. The night before he had gone to the library; he felt nothing when he talked with the librarian. As he encounters women, he feels no desire for them. Yogi rationalizes that at least he has retained his love for horses. He passes a couple of horses hitched at the front of the feed store, and he marvels at them but worries that there might be something wrong with these particular horses.
Yogi walks up the hill and to the outskirts of Petoskey. He looks out at the bay where the boundary between Canada and the United States lies. He sits down to look at the lake. He is glad that the war is over and he is still alive. He thinks about a book he has read recently in which the character’s war experiences did not agree with his own. He recalls killing a man who had surrendered to him. This death bothers him as not quite honorable.
A couple of Indians approach him and ask for tobacco and liquor. Yogi hands some over. The Indians sit down and Yogi tells him about the war. He tells them that the war had been more like football. He recalls the men he killed in the war. It was easier to kill men than to take them prisoner.
Yogi notices that one of the Indians is asleep, leaning on the shoulder of the other Indian. Yogi asks the Indian who is still awake what he thought of the story. The Indian thinks he has sound ideas and is very educated. Yogi feels appreciated. The Indian asks about Yogi’s experiences in the war. Yogi tells him that he landed in France in May 1917. The Indian tells him that he and his companion earned medals in the war, having fought in the Canadian army. Yogi feels humiliated by this revelation. The Indian tells Yogi that he and his friend are going to Petoskey to join the Salvation Army. They invite Yogi to join too, but he simply agrees to walk with them. He decides that these Indians do not mean anything to him. As the sun goes down, the ground begins freezing again; this is evidence that spring has not yet arrived. Yogi decides to walk into town, find a beautiful woman, and try to desire her.
(The entire section is 447 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Yogi Johnson and the two Indians walk down the hill to the town. The Indians invite Yogi into the pool hall to shoot a game of pool, but Yogi explains that his arm was injured in the war, so now he cannot play. They suggest that he play Kelly, who had both arms and legs shot off at Ypres. Yogi thinks this sounds more agreeable. He meets Kelly, who has two artificial arms. At the end of an hour and a half of playing, Yogi owes Kelly money. Kelly invites Yogi to go with them for a drink. They lead him to a speak-easy (this is during the time of Prohibition), which is up in the loft of a stable. Several Indians are in the bar, and Yogi recognizes some of them. He learns that the Indians are segregated into two groups: town Indians and woods Indians. The two with whom he came are woods Indians, unlike the others there, who are town Indians. Red Dog, the man with whom Yogi works at the pump factory, introduces him to the others and tells implausible histories for each one. Yogi believes each story. Bruce, the Black bartender, laughs loudly at Yogi’s gullibility.
Red Dog takes Yogi on a tour of the club. The committee room is decorated with pictures of several famous celebrities; all of the pictures are “autographed.” In the locker room is a small pool. Yogi is impressed, and Red Dog offers to put him up for memberships. He asks what tribe Yogi belongs to, and Yogi explains that his ancestors came from Sweden. Red Dog is surprised but says he thought he looked “a little on the white side.” He is glad that this was discovered in time because a white man trying to join the club would have caused a scandal. He pulls a gun on Yogi and orders him to quietly leave and never come back. As he leaves, Bruce the bartender laughs at him; he recognized him as a Swede from the beginning. The two woods Indians are thrown out with him. The little Indian is crying, having lost one of his artificial arms. Yogi tries to comfort them, saying they will be able to get a job in the pump factory. The big Indian is not interested, stating that they are going to join the Salvation Army. Above, they can still hear Bruce laughing.
In an Author’s Note, Hemingway relates to the reader that he wrote this chapter in two hours and then went out to lunch with John Dos
(The entire section is 460 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
Yogi and the two Indians walk down the street. Yogi has his arm around the little Indian, who is still grieving for his lost artificial arm. Yogi thinks of the big Indian, who was also in the war. The three of them walk with no particular destination in mind. At a streetlight, the big Indian stops and demands to know where they are going. Yogi does not know where they are going. He had intended just to walk, but they are getting nowhere. He admits to the big Indian that he does not know where they are going. Since “the white chief” Yogi does not speak, the big Indian asks if he has ever gone to Brown’s Beanery. Yogi says that he never has, but he feels defeated at the mention of the beanery. They agree to go to the beanery. Yogi follows the big Indian and thinks that the white man might not always be supreme. With all the unrest in the world, some other group might rise up and claim dominance.
As they walk, Yogi thinks of a quote from Huysmans, a French writer, and thinks it would be interesting to read French. When he was in Paris, he had seen a street named Huysmans right around the corner from where Gertrude Stein lived. He thinks of the glories of Paris and how far away it is now. He thinks about how he is walking with two Indians and the chance that brought them together. Suddenly they stop at the beanery and read the sign: “Best by Test.” The Indians ask Yogi if he has money. Yogi does and offers to pay for the three of them. The Indians thank him, praising his nobility and generosity, but Yogi brushes this off, saying that they will eventually do the same for him.
Yogi thinks he is taking a chance on treating the Indians and expecting some reciprocity. But, he reflects, people are taking chances all over the world. As Yogi voices his thoughts, the big Indian objects to the idea that Armenians will take chances. They go into the beanery.
In an Author’s Note, the author relates that F. Scott Fitzgerald came to his house as he was writing this chapter. Hemingway defends Fitzgerald’s reputation to the reader. In a postscript, Hemingway adds that, as he rereads the chapter he has just written, it is not a bad piece of work. If the reader likes it, the author urges him to share it with friends. He...
(The entire section is 466 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
Yogi looks around at the customers filling the beanery. He sees white men, white women, and Indian men, but he sees no Indian women. He wonders what has happened to the “squaws” until the door opens and an Indian woman, naked except for a pair of moccasins, enters with a papoose on her back and a husky dog beside her. The owner shouts at her to leave. The Black cook forcibly makes her leave. Scripps, who is also present, speculates at to what might have happened if she had stayed. The Indians watch all this impassively. Yogi had been unable to move. The women had covered their faces when the squaw entered. Scripps felt faint and shaken, but something inside him stirred with a primordial feeling. One customer, a "drummer" (salesman), wonders where she came from, and the little Indian explains that she is his wife. Scripps asks him if he cannot keep her clothed. The little Indian explains that she does not like clothes.
Yogi is not listening. He has a feeling of desire for a woman that he thought had been lost to him forever. He thinks what would have happened if he had not come to the beanery, seen the naked woman, and returned to “normal.” He had been on the verge of suicide, and he realizes that would have been a mistake. He is ready for spring to come now.
Yogi turns to the two Indians and wants to tell them about something that happened to him in Paris. He had been walking along the avenue when a car passed. A woman leaned out, called to him, and took him home with her, where they made love. Afterward, someone showed him out by a different door and the woman said she could never see him again. He tried to get the number of the mansion, but it was not numbered and the mansions all looked the same. After that, he spent his entire leave looking for the woman. A few times he thought he saw her, but he could not find her. On his last night of leave, he hired a guide to show him around. The guide managed to take him to the mansion, where the lady was entertaining a British soldier. Since then, Yogi has never wanted a woman. Now, since the entrance of the naked Indian woman, he is “cured.” When he finishes his story, he leaves the beanery. The Indians wonder about him, whether he was really in the war or not.
Scripps and his wife are sitting at the other end of the beanery bar. Mrs. Scripps now knows that she cannot hold onto her husband. Mandy is talking to him now. The little Indian looks out the...
(The entire section is 478 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Only Scripps, Mandy, Diana, and the "drummer" are sitting in the beanery now. The drummer also eventually leaves. Mandy is talking to Scripps, leaning on the counter. Scripps has his eyes fixed on her. Diana is not listening or even pretending to. She knows it is over but decides to make one more attempt. She addresses him, and he answers her shortly, asking what is on her mind. She asks if he would like to go home now. The new papers have arrived. She begs him to come home with her. Scripps looks up, and Diana thinks that perhaps he is going to come home after all. She tells him that there is an article by Mencken, whom he used to enjoy. Scripps refuses to leave, saying that he no longer cares for Mencken. Diana’s head drops. She knows now that she has lost him. She sits crying silently while Mandy begins talking again.
Suddenly Diana sits up; she has one last request to make. She knows he might refuse her, but she still must ask. She asks if she may take the bird home with her. He agrees carelessly. She picks up the birdcage in which the bird is fast asleep. She thinks that he looks like an old osprey from her home in the Lake Country. She thanks Scripps and leaves. She takes the birdcage and the copy of The Mercury magazine, gives one last backward glance at Scripps, and leaves. Scripps does not even notice she is gone, he is so intent on what Mandy is saying.
Mandy asks Scripps about the bird Diana just took. Scripps is mildly surprised to learn that she took the bird. Mandy reminds Scripps that he used to wonder what kind of bird it was, which reminds her of a story. A friend of hers, Ford, was stationed in England at a marquis’s castle. He was sitting in the library one night and noticed a stuffed flamingo in the middle of the wall. Scripps says that the English know about interior decoration. Mandy asks Scripps if his wife was English, and Scripps tells her she was from the Lake Country. Mandy continues with her story. Ford was interrupted by the marquis’s guests, who wanted to see the library. Gosse, one of the guests, looked at the flamingo and pronounced that it was in no way his idea of a flamingo. The other guest, a professor, replied, “No, Gosse, that’s God’s idea of a flamingo.” As Mandy finishes her story, Scripps tells her that he loves her and that she is his woman. Mandy says that she has known he was her man for a long time. She tells him another story, but all Scripps can think of...
(The entire section is 499 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
It is long past midnight, but the lights are still burning inside the beanery. The town sleeps, and the cold railroad tracks run North and South. North of the town, a couple is walking side by side on the tracks. It is Yogi Johnson walking with the Indian squaw who was thrown out the beanery that evening. As they walk, Yogi begins to take off his clothes, casting each item by the side of the tracks. In the end, he is wearing only his pump-maker shoes. Together they walk naked in the cold along the tracks, the squaw carrying her papoose on her back. Yogi tries to take the papoose from her, to carry it for her. The husky dog, which has followed the woman, whines and licks at Yogi’s ankles. The square refuses to give up the papoose; she is intent on carrying it herself. They keep on walking into the northern night.
Behind them walk two figures in the moonlight. They are the two woods Indians who scoop up Yogi’s clothes beside the tracks. Ahead they see Yogi and the squaw. They stop to examine Yogi’s clothes. They call Yogi a “snappy dresser.” The small Indian calls Yogi the white chief and notes that he is going to get very cold. The tall Indian rolls the clothes into a bundle, and then they start walking back along the tracks into town. The small Indian asks if they should keep the clothes or sell them to the Salvation Army. The tall Indian decides it is better that they sell them to the Salvation Army because the white chief may never come back. The small Indian disagrees, feeling that he will return, but the tall Indian says they should sell the clothes anyway. The white chief will need new clothes when the spring comes.
As the Indians walk back to town, the wind turns warm, melting the ice and snow along the train tracks. They feel some pagan urge as the wind blows. They judge that it is the chinook wind. They decide to hurry to town to get ahead of the white men who will be flooding into town to enjoy the end of winter.
In the final Author’s Note, Hemingway tells the reader that this story took him ten days to write. He clarifies Diana’s story of her mother, who really died of bubonic plague. The doctor warned the authorities, but because the great expedition was to open that day, the authorities thought it would be better to just say the woman disappeared.
(The entire section is 430 words.)