Islands in the Stream Part 3, Chapter 17 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 3, Chapter 17 Summary

As Willie goes back to the cruiser to bring Ara and Henry, Thomas Hudson looks down on Peters. He realizes he never noticed the radio operator was so tall. Before Willie had left, he and Thomas Hudson explored the German turtle boat and found it a mess. There had been only one German on board, the one who had shot Peters, mistaking him for an officer. The men who had taken the skiff to shore had also evidently taken weapons because there was only one pistol and some ammunition on board. The man left on board had been the wounded soldier, shot through the thigh.

Thomas Hudson wonders what the Germans are doing at that moment. They most likely heard the explosions and saw one man leave in the dinghy. He thinks they will most likely go inside the mangroves and hide the skiff. From there, they can easily ambush Thomas Hudson and the others. Then they will make their way to Havana to join one of the German outfits there; they can easily steal a better boat than the one they had. Thomas Hudson plans to go to Cayo Frances, gas up, and leave Peters there. He refuses to put Willie, Ara, and Henry in line for a massacre at the mangroves. He is pretty sure there are eight Germans still left.

Thomas Hudson reasons that the Germans are left with only a skiff, but he still refuses to engage them because it will be eight men against three. Thomas Hudson begins to think why the Germans have done what they have done. He doubts that he has them figured out properly. He begins to second-guess his past actions.

The dinghy returns with Ara in the stern. Willie and Henry are not visible but are lying flat on the bottom. Thomas Hudson is impressed with Willie’s thinking. If the Germans see the boat, they will think it is carrying only one man. He maneuvers the dinghy to the far side of the boat, and Henry climbs on board. Henry crawls across the deck to a post on the bow. Willie is still lying on the bottom of the dinghy, clearly nervous. He tells Thomas Hudson that he will go to the far side of the key and scout the area. Thomas Hudson does not want him to go alone, but Willie feels this is the only way. Reluctantly, Thomas Hudson agrees. Ara pilots the dinghy close to the beach. Left alone with Henry, the two men discuss Willie’s bravery. Henry regrets that he has not been friends with Willie but vows to be so from now on.