In Another Country Summary
by Ernest Hemingway

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In Another Country Summary

"In Another Country" is a short story by Ernest Hemingway, a group of wounded soldiers, one American and five Italians, bond while going through physical therapy together.

  • The young soldiers compare medals, with one of the Italians and the American commiserating over the fact that they were injured prior to being able to show their valor in battle.
  • The Major, the most mature of the Italians, acts as a mentor figure for the others. He teaches the American how to speak Italian.
  • The Major's wife dies and he lashes out at the other men, but then apologizes and goes into mourning.

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(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Ernest Hemingway’s “In Another Country” describes the relationships that develop in Milan among an American and five Italian soldiers who have been wounded and are receiving physical therapy. The story is told from the perspective of the American. The townspeople, with the exception of the café girls, resent the young men because they are officers; this resentment, in addition to the young soldiers’ war experiences, sets them apart from the street life in Milan.

Within their group, however, there are also differences. The American has received a medal for his accidental war injury. Three young Italians from near Milan, in contrast to the American, have received wounds and medals because of bravery in battle. Another young Italian from a good family was wounded after only one hour on the front line. The American feels close to this young man because his bravery could not be tested. After cocktails, the American thinks that he might have done all the things that the Italians did to receive their citations. However, he knows that he “would never have done such things” and acknowledges that he is “very much afraid to die.”

All the wounded men go to the hospital every afternoon to use machines for physical therapy. The doctor assures the American that he will again play football even though his knee does not bend. An Italian major, who used to be the greatest fencer in Italy before he was wounded, befriends the American, assisting him in learning to speak Italian grammatically. Although the youth of the American and the Italians is emphasized, the major seems to be more mature. Unlike the three young “hunting-hawks,” the major does not “believe in bravery.”

Near the conclusion of the story, the major’s young wife suddenly dies. He is distraught and lashes out at the American but then apologizes and tells him of his loss. After three days of mourning, the major returns to the hospital wearing a black band on his sleeve.


(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it anymore.’’ So begins Ernest Hemingway’s short story, ‘‘In Another Country.’’ The war he refers to is World War I; the setting is Milan, away from the scene of the fighting. The narrator describes the city he passes on his way to the hospital to receive physical rehabilitation for the leg wounds he received while at the front. Though the narrator remains unnamed, scholars generally agree the young man is Hemingway’s alter ego, Nick Adams.

At the hospital, the narrator, a young man, sits at a machine designed to aid his damaged knee. Next to him is an Italian major, a champion fencer before the war, whose hand has been wounded. The doctor shows the major a photograph of a hand that has been restored by the machine the major is using. The photo, however, does not increase the major’s confidence in the machine.

Three Milanese soldiers, the same age as the narrator, are then introduced. The four boys hang out together at a place called Cafe Cova following their therapy. As they walk through the city’s Communist quarter, they are criticized for being officers with medals. A fifth boy, who lost his nose an hour after his first battle, sometimes joins them. He wears a black handkerchief strategically placed across his face and has no medals.

One of the boys who has three medals has

lived a very long time with death and was a...

(The entire section is 1,175 words.)