In Another Country

by Ernest Hemingway

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What are the main elements of the plot in "In Another Country" by Ernest Hemingway?

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The main conflict in this story, in general, is the struggle of the soldiers in dealing with the traumatic experiences of the war. The more particular conflict with the American (the narrator) includes the experience of the war but also focuses on his feelings of inadequacy and alienation. He feels that his friends are more worthy of their medals than he is of his own. He is, of course, "in another country" and perhaps feels an even greater sense of alienation because of that. He looks to the major for some wisdom or hope, but the major is largely cynical.

The rising action deals mainly with the American's interaction with the major. Although it is not explicitly stated, the American seems to be looking for a bit of hope or some kind of way to put the war, and a return to normal life, into a decent perspective. The dialogue becomes more intense when the major warns the American to avoid marriage. He loses his temper at the climax. The American realizes that the major is overcome with cynicism and grief. With the falling action, the American learns that the major has lost his wife. The American continues to observe the major, who keeps using the machines despite his inability to believe in or hope for a recovery.

So, what is the resolution? The story ends with this seemingly depressing scene. On one hand, the major seems completely inconsolable. On the other hand, given that he continues to use the machines, he shows great perseverance. Perhaps the American thinks this is bravery: to keep trying even if you think a situation is hopeless. This might also be a comment on the war itself. Soldiers go to war, no matter how hopeless the situation is. Is it bravery or futility? (Or both?) The resolution of the story is the American trying to understand all of this. The ending is ambiguous, and this makes it difficult and interesting to come up with an interpretation.

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Because "In Another Country" is a work of Modernism, a movement that eschewed traditional short story structure, the story lacks an exposition, and arguably, a conclusion.  Modernist stories sought to capture the fragmentary nature of life in the recent aftermath of WWI. But, to answer the question:

Main conflict: Injured soldiers have a difficult time coming to terms with their personal losses in a war that had an extremely depersonalizing effect on its veterans.

Rising action: The narrator and the other injured soldiers come to doubt that the physical therapy machines will heal their physical injuries and find the assurances of the doctors that they will be "better than ever" to be hollow.

Climax:  The major erupts, "Don't argue with me!" He removes his withered hand from the physical therapy machine and demands that the attendant turn it off. His outburst is fueled by the conversation about whether a man should marry, because he has just lost his wife.

Falling action: The falling action is found in the major's tragic declaration, "I cannot resign myself," as his final words about his emotional state in the wake of losing his wife (in addition to all else he last lost).

Resolution: Because this is a Modernist story, there isn't really a tidy resolution. Readers are instead left with the disquieting feeling that the men at the Milan clinic will continue to live with their disillusionment and devastation.

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You are looking for a basic plot diagram, which enotes does beautifully.  Take a look at the study guide for "In Another Country" for characters, plot, analysis, and other information which will enhance your reading pleasure and comprehension.


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What is the conflict of the story "In Another Country" by Ernest Hemingway?

Loss and ruin pervade the narrative of Ernest Hemingway's story "In Another Country." Clearly, the conflicts in which the injured soldiers find themselves are identity conflicts.

These men are soldiers. Although "the war was always there, ... we did not go to it any more," the narrator observes. Now they are "in another country" of the sick and injured as well as the alienated. The narrator observes, 

We were all a little detached, and there was nothing that held us together except that we met every afternoon at the hospital.

He adds that when he and the other injured soldiers went to town past the "wine-shops," they often had to jostle a crowd that "disliked" them and "did not understand." The narrator is further alienated because he is an American and the Italian soldiers feel that he has been awarded his medal solely because he is from the US. Whereas his medal was given because of his accident, theirs were awarded for valiant acts in the face of imminent danger. 

One of the Italian soldiers, a major who was a fencing champion, has suffered even more than the others because his hand has been injured so severely that he will be unable to fence ever again. Even more devastating to him emotionally is the unexpected death of his young wife, whom he did not marry until he was "invalided out of the war." One day he abruptly tells the narrator that the therapy machines are "all nonsense." Also, he tells the American that a man must not marry:

"He cannot marry. He cannot marry," he said angrily. 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.”

This declaration is considered to be "the philosophical center of the story and also one of the clearest expositions of Hemingway's code." (eNotes)

Further, it is the major's dignity that makes him demand that the American speak grammatically when he converses in Italian with him. We also see the major's dignity in the way he carries himself straight and soldierly and comes regularly to the hospital even though he does not believe in the machines. And it is the major's dignity that makes him sit "straight up in his chair" with his withered hand thrust into the machine as he stares at the wall. Faced with irreconcilable losses and physical and spiritual ruin, the major as the code hero endures with his dignity and his adherence to form that he places above all else. In this manner, he resolves his conflicts as he continues to live with courage.

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What is the conflict of the story "In Another Country" by Ernest Hemingway?

The conflict of the story, "In Another Country", is a subtle emotional conflict regarding the possibility of emotional rehabilitation.

The narrator has been injured and is undergoing a rehabilitation program on machines. However, his injury is not entirely physical. The mechanized rehabilitation program is therefore somewhat ironic. 

The isolation the narrator feels cannot be overcome by machines and cannot be overcome by a recovery from his injury. Something critical that once connected the narrator to the world has been severed. 

We see a powerful example of this kind of severance in the major. The major suffers the loss of his young wife unexpectedly when she dies. This loss leads to bitterness and a further loss of dignity. The major becomes isolated from the narrator and cannot believe in the potential for recovery. He "cannot resign" himself to his loss and so is bound to continue to suffer from it, an emotional injury that cannot be overcome.

The narrator's conflict is, essentially, the same as he struggles to see a path to emotional and psychological recovery after the loss of his confidence, his idealism, and his health.


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