Islands in the Stream Part 3, Chapter 8 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 3, Chapter 8 Summary

Ara and Willie come back to the boat and announce that they have caught a German. The prisoner is lying in the stern; he is blond and emaciated. With the sun shining through his long hair, he looks like a saint. Ara says he and Willie tried to get him to talk without success. He also warns Thomas Hudson to stand downwind to avoid the odor. Peters, who speaks German, asks him if he wants anything, but the prisoner says nothing. Thomas Hudson it is important for him to know how many Germans there are. He says nothing is important. Thomas Hudson offers him morphine, but the German says he does not hurt anymore. Peters speaks to him rapidly in German, but Thomas Hudson warns him to say only what he tells him to say. He has Peters tell the prisoner that he can be made to tell, but the German says no. Thomas orders him to be given some warm soup and cognac. He also offers again to give him morphine. The German thanks him but says he really does not need it although he could have used it last week; now it is better to save it. Thomas Hudson expresses his admiration.

The other men arrive and Thomas Hudson warns them to stay away from the stern because he has a “Kraut” dying back there and wants him to be able to die easy. Henry reports that they found nothing on their search. The Germans had made a shelter for the prisoner. Ara notices his wounds are gangrenous. Ara says he did not have a weapon on him when they found him, but it looked as though the Germans had made the shelter for their wounded comrade the day before. Willie suggests offering him some chicken, and Henry thinks it might help him to talk, but Thomas Hudson tells them not to bother him. He is a good Kraut, he says. Willie asks him if he is going to be a Kraut lover. Thomas Hudson tells him to shut up. Later, when they are alone, he tells Willie to finish the rest of his thoughts. Willie believes Thomas Hudson is soft toward the German because he is sad his own son died. He expresses further dissatisfaction about multiple issues. Thomas Hudson lets him talk himself out.

Peters arrives to tell them the German is dead. Thomas Hudson orders him to get on the radio and try to raise Guantanamo. He tells Willie to undress the German and take photographs of him. Ara offers to take the body to shore to bury it. They are to put up a board with the words “Unknown German Soldier” with the date. Ara asks Thomas Hudson what it is like to be the commander of the ship. Thomas Hudson replies that it feels the same as writing the board marking the German’s grave. A message from Guantanamo comes that orders them to continue searching westward with care.