In the dialogue between the narrator and the major (lines 113-146), what kind of loss has the major experienced, and how does he respond to his loss? What is the narrator's attitude (tone) toward...

In the dialogue between the narrator and the major (lines 113-146), what kind of loss has the major experienced, and how does he respond to his loss? What is the narrator's attitude (tone) toward the major in "In Another Country"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major has just lost his young wife whom he has rather recently married, and he is unable to accept this loss after his injury. The narrator feels "sick for him."

The narrator's initial remark that he and the other wounded soldiers do not go to the war any more indicates their feelings of isolation from the other soldiers, who are fighting. Added to this, their therapy involves the use of new and alien rehabilitation machines, machines of which the men are mistrustful despite the photographs that the doctor provides as evidence of the restorative value of these machines. Certainly, the major has no confidence in the machine which is meant to restore use to his wounded hand even though he has seen a picture of a withered hand like his that became larger after "it had taken a machine course."

One day as the machine works on his withered hand, the narrator practices his Italian, speaking to the major. However, when he says that he would like to be married after he returns to the States, the major argues with the narrator, telling him he is a fool to want to marry. He adds, "A man must not marry."

"Why must not a man marry?"
"....He should place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose."

The narrator observes that the major speaks with anger and bitterness, looking straight ahead as he speaks. So, the narrator asks him why the man would necessarily lose in marriage. Petulantly, the major insists that the man will lose and shouts, "Don't argue with me!" He then calls to the attendant to shut off the machine from which he has pulled his hand. Then. the major moves to another therapy room; after a while, he is heard asking the doctor to use the telephone. When he returns he informs the narrator that his young wife has died. "You must forgive me," he adds, apologizing for his earlier behavior.

The narrator "feels sick for him," and he says, "I am so sorry" in a consoling and sympathetic tone. The American feels very badly for the major who was the "greatest fencer in Italy" and can no longer fence; now he suffers the devastating loss of his young wife, whom he has just married recently. 

 

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In Another Country

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