In "The Gambler, the Nun and the Radio," what is the significance of listing all the patients of the hospital and their injuries?Ernest Hemingway's short stories

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Hemingway's tale of suffering, loneliness, and endurance, "The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio," Mr. Frazer acts as the recording consciousness for what one critic terms "the essential disinfranchisement" of the residents of the hospital brought in "around midnight," symbolically the darkness hour.  The listing of the patients, those who are injured, points to the plot of Hemingway's story which is affliction, or injury.  This is what life is--a continual injury for everyone.  And, so, it is a futile experiment, one that must not be thought about.

The gambler confesses to being the victim of illusions as he is a poor idealist. Mr. Frazer decides that the connection of all the patients and the nun is that they each have an opium:

Religion is the opium of the people.....Yes, and music is the opium of the people....And now economics is the opium of the people; along with patriotism the opium of the people in Italy and Germany.....Along with these went gambling, and opium of the people if there ever was one, one of the oldest.  Ambition was another....What was the real, the actual, opium of the people?....Of course; bread was the opium of the people.

Of course, bread is symbolic of life. For Frazer life itself is illusionary.  And, so he plays the radio so that he can hardly hear his thoughts.