Essays and Criticism
The Code in Hemingway’s “In Another Country”
A short story which illustrates Hemingway’s code is “In Another Country.” The purpose of this essay is to discuss Hemingway’s approach to the code and the code-hero as it appears in this story. It has been well pointed out that the majority of Hemingway’s true code-heros are older men, non-Americans, professional soldiers or sportsmen or gangsters of some sort.(1) In this story the Italian Major is a code hero of the type most admired by Hemingway, for he fulfills all the requirements of the type. In addition to providing us with an image of the perfect code hero, he serves as an example to the narrator of the story, who through the Major gains an insight into his own life and finds, perhaps, that he has been on the wrong track. This structure, where the narrator is the focus and protagonist of the story, and the code-hero is the teacher of the narrator, occurs frequently in Hemingway’s works. It has been termed the tutor-tyro type of story, in which the tyro is “literally initiated into a comprehension of certain mysteries that had been hidden from him; through the process of initiation, he loses an old self and gains a new one.”(2) The mystery in this case is the code.
“In Another Country” takes place in Italy during the war. The first-person narrator, an American, visits the hospital daily for rehabilitation treatments, and spends the rest of his time with a group of Italians, drinking and talking about the war. At the hospital each day he sees an Italian Major whose hand has been injured, and who is receiving treatments. He was once a fencing champion. All of the Italians and the American says the narrator “felt held together by there being something that had happened that they, the people who disliked us, did not understand.”(3) The Major, whose treatments took place at the machine next to the American, is portrayed as being every bit the professional soldier. He insists that the American learn Italian grammar, with what has been called “considerable dignity and somewhat stuffy rectitude.”(4) Yet the most striking characteristic of the Major is his stoicism, his seeming acceptance of his wound and...
(The entire section is 875 words.)