Islands in the Stream Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary

Thomas Hudson dreams that his son Tom was not shot down and that Andrew and David were not killed in the automobile accident with their mother. He dreams the war is over. Tom’s mother is sleeping with him, lying on top of him as she occasionally liked to do. He can feel her body against him. He moistens his .357 Magnum and places it where it should be. He draws his ex-wife’s hair around him like a curtain and begins to move slowly and rhythmically.

Henry pulls a light blanket over Thomas Hudson, who in his sleep thanks him for being so moist and lovely, for pressing on him so hard, and for not being too thin. Henry expresses pity for Thomas Hudson and walks away carrying two containers on his shoulders.

Back in Thomas Hudson’s dream, his ex-wife says she thought he wanted her thin because she felt like a young goat, that nothing felt better than a young goat. Thomas Hudson asks which one is going to make love to the other. She suggests both of them, unless he wants something different. He wants her to make love to him because he is so tired. She calls him lazy and asks if she can take off his pistol since it is the way of everything. He tells her to lay it by the bed and to make everything as it should be.

When all is settled, she asks him if she should be he or vice versa. He gives her first choice, so she decides to be him. He says he cannot be she, but he will try. She tells him to let go, to lose everything and take everything too. He does and proclaims it wonderful.

She asks Thomas Hudson if he knows what they have. He says he does, and it is easy to give up. She asks him if he will give up everything and if he is glad she brought the boys back as well as coming back herself to be a devil in the night. He says he is glad of everything. He asks her to swing her hair back around him and to hold him so tightly that it kills him.

Thomas Hudson awakens and does not realize at first that it was a dream. All the hollowness he had felt is increased because of the dream. He goes back to sleep and does not dream again before the men come to awaken him.