In Another Country

by Ernest Hemingway

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Student Question

In "Another Country" by Hemingway, how is the hawk used as a metaphor and what does it represent?

Quick answer:

The narrator uses a hawk as a metaphor for those men who attach great importance to the medals they've earned during the war. He compares the Italian soldiers in the hospital to "hunting hawks", making it seem that they're warmongers who eagerly participate in conflict.

The narrator isn't like these men. He doesn't brag about his war service, and neither does the Major. They are brave men who don't like to talk about experiences of war.

Expert Answers

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The metaphor of a hunting hawk is a very appropriate one for the three young Italian soldiers recuperating from their injuries with the narrator in a military hospital. The metaphor conjures up an image of fierce birds of prey eagerly awaiting to pounce on their quarry.

Though these young men have received injuries in the war, it's clear that they're no less enthusiastic about fighting. As well as taking great pride in their medals—which is perfectly understandable—they brag about their bravery, which is somewhat less so. It's not enough that these young blades have been decorated for their service; they have to boast about it too.

The narrator, Nick Adams, most certainly isn't a "hunting hawk." He doesn't feel in the least bit comfortable bragging about his medals. He sees his war service as something he had to do, not something he wanted to do. There was certainly no hawk-like eagerness about his participation in the war.

Much the same could be said of the Major. He's no less brave than the three "hunting hawks", but unlike them he doesn't brag about his exploits on the field of battle. As well as being a modest man, the Major is also acutely aware of the horrors of war, and of the immense damage it can do to a man. Once a champion fencer, the Major's days as a swordsman are over now that his hand is withered and stunted by an injury he sustained in the war. Under the circumstances, then, he feels it somewhat inappropriate to brag about his bravery.

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