Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Hemingway tells the story from the point of view of the young American, but in the objective or pseudo-third person. By telling the story from the American’s point of view yet not making him the narrator, Hemingway manages to objectify and distance the surface of the narrative without affecting the intimacy established between the reader and the American.

The restraint with which the characters experience and voice their emotions is reinforced by the stylistic restraints that Hemingway imposes on his narrative. The central issue of the story, that courage is necessary for life as well as death, is not revealed until the end, when the doctor explains the tragedy of the death of the major’s young wife. The major’s intense grief at his wife’s death is conveyed by language that avoids labeling the emotion he feels: “The photographs did not make much difference to the major because he only looked out of the window.” The American may or may not understand the major’s bitter loss, but the reader inevitably perceives the major’s emotional wound and his courage in not giving up.

Hemingway uses images to suggest the feelings of his characters; the emotions of the characters are conveyed indirectly by what they see. The mood or tone of the story is established in the first paragraph, in which the dead game outside the shops is described as “stiff,” “heavy,” and “empty.” The American’s awareness of death controls the way he experiences the streets of Milan. Death is a haunting refrain playing quietly under the surface of the narrative. Though the hospital is “very old and very beautiful,” the American observes: “There were usually funerals starting from the courtyard.”

Irony is used quietly, but with force. The American comments that the wounded men are all very polite when they go to sit in “the machines that were to make so much difference.” Because these men are the first to use the machines, the photographs of restored limbs that the doctor first shows the men and then puts on the wall do not inspire great confidence. The machines are not likely to restore their limbs; in any case, nothing can ease the internal wounds epitomized by the suffering of the major.

In spite of his lack of confidence in the machines, the major continues to come to sit in them, even after his wife’s death. His regular attendance is like his interest in having the young American learn grammar. The major’s discipline and courage in the face of almost certain defeat are powerfully underscored because they are never overtly mentioned.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Ambulance and driver on a city street in Italy during World War I. Published by Gale Cengage

Ernest Hemingway’s story ‘‘In Another Country’’ takes place in a war hospital in Milan during World War I. The war began in 1914 when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a member of the Hapsburg family, the rulers of what was then known as the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated while on an official state visit to the city of Sarajevo in Bosnia. His killer was a young Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip, a member of a secret underground organization who protested the Austro-Hungarian empire’s claim over their country. When the Austro-Hungarians demanded entrance to Bosnia so they could find and then bring to trial Ferdinand’s assassin, the Bosnian government refused, insisting they would conduct their own investigation. The Austro-Hungarians then declared war on Bosnia. Quickly, Germany allied with the Austro-Hungarian empire, while Russia France and Great Britain allied with Bosnia, with Italy soon to follow.

The United States joined World War I at the end of 1917. A German submarine had torpedoed a British passenger ship, the Lusitania, claiming it secretly carried American munitions aboard. The United States denied this, but joined the fray when the British and French requested their assistance. Most American soldiers were initially stationed on the Western Front, in France. Believing the American army to be inexperienced and, according to Hemingway, ‘‘overfed and under trained,’’ the Germans immediately attacked. To much of the world’s...

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Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Point of View
All of the events that occur in ‘‘In Another Country’’ are told from the point of view of the...

(The entire section is 789 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

  • Explain the multiple meanings of the title of the short story ‘‘In Another Country.’’
  • Write about a time when you...

(The entire section is 112 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Short Stories for Students)

  • Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young Man is a film which assimilates the author’s Nick Adams stories into a single...

(The entire section is 265 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

(The entire section is 173 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Sources
Baker, Carlos, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917-1961. New York: Charles Scribner’s...

(The entire section is 301 words.)

Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Benson, Jackson J., ed. New Critical Approaches to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990.

Berman, Ronald. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the Twenties. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Ernest Hemingway. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2005.

Burgess, Anthony. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1999.

Flora, Joseph M. Ernest Hemingway: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1989.

Hays, Peter L. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Continuum, 1990.

Hotchner, A. E. Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir. New ed. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999.

Meyers, Jeffrey. Hemingway: A Biography. 1985. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1999.

Padura Fuentes, Leonardo. Adiós Hemingway. Translated by John King. New York: Canongate, 2005.

Reynolds, Michael. The Young Hemingway. New York: Blackwell, 1986.

Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Paris Years. New York: Blackwell, 1989.

Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Homecoming. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.

Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The 1930’s. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997.

Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Final Years. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.

Rovit, Earl, and Arthur Waldhorn, eds. Hemingway and Faulkner in Their Time. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Wagner-Martin, Linda, ed. Hemingway: Seven Decades of Criticism. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1998.