What does the characterization contribute to the total effect of "In Another Country"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The opening line and its repetition in Hemingway's "In Another Country" are profoundly effective: "In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more." The men in the story are disillusioned by the war and are somewhat defeated by an existence that lacks meaning. Therefore, they become detached and  somewhat dehumanized as they are placed on machines that reportedly will return to them the use of that which they have lost. But, the cure is artificial and, in effect, worthless.

In the midst of this meaninglessness, the major, once a great fencer who has now lost the use of his hand, simply adheres to form, as the code hero of Hemingway that he is. But, even his form does not support the major when his young wife dies and he is left completely bereft. He angrily tells the narrator, "A man must not marry." When asked why, he responds,

"He cannot marry. He cannot marry....If he is to lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that. He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose.

"Utterly unable to resign himself" to the loss of his wife, the major is completely unable to deal with the emptiness of life and its false hopes and promises. Likewise, the other men represent the detachment of meaning and true feeling that comes from experiences as horrific as those of war. For them there is little but the detachment of their lives. Thus, the characterization of the major and the other soldiers depicts the uncertainly and often meaninglessness of life: "We only knew then that there was always the war, but that we were not going to it any more." The men no longer belong to anything or to any one. Life lies beyond their will and control.

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