Islands in the Stream Part 3, Chapter 20 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 3, Chapter 20 Summary

Henry comes up to the bridge and joins Thomas Hudson. The other men are down below; they are drinking but are not drunk. They have limited themselves in anticipation of the coming night. Henry says that he and Willie are looking forward to finally engaging the Germans they have been tracking for so long. Thomas Hudson says he does not look forward to it but this is the job they were sent to do. He does not think the Germans will try to attack them during the night, but he has no idea what they might be doing. They have every reason to try to return to their ship, but they might know the ship has been booby trapped. He is sure they do not want to be picked up because of the massacre on the island. Therefore, they might be desperate.

Nothing happens all night. Antonio keeps watch, and when the tide rises enough to free the boat, he wakes Thomas Hudson. They work their way out of the channel. Thomas Hudson realizes he forgot to tell Willie and Ara to detrap the turtle boat in case some innocent fisherman climbs aboard. With the dinghy ahead of them, guiding them through the channel, the cruiser makes it through safely.

Thomas Hudson warns Henry that they might get jumped in this section of the channel and to be ready. They warn the other men as well. Thomas Hudson notices there are no birds in sight. He notices crabs sliding out fast from the mangroves. He does not see the flash of gunfire as the Germans open fire on him. He is hit. Gil and Antonio are returning fire. Thomas Hudson feels his left leg is wet. The men continue to throw frags and grenades into the mangroves. Gil checks on Thomas Hudson, who says he has been hit in two places. From the dinghy, Willie fires into the mangroves. Then he heads back to the cruiser. Thomas Hudson is almost overcome by a feeling of weakness. Willie jumps aboard. Gil puts a tourniquet on Thomas Hudson’s left leg. Thomas Hudson notices there is a lot of blood from the leg wound. Willie says Ara has sunk the Germans’ skiff by chopping it open with a machete.

Thomas Hudson feels sick and strange but not dizzy. Willie notices that he has lost a lot of blood. Thomas Hudson guides the cruiser close to shore. Gil throws a bomb on shore, and a man comes walking toward them with his hands clasped on his head. Thomas Hudson orders the men to hold fire, but Ara has already fired and hit the man. They resume fire. Thomas Hudson realizes he is probably going to die.