In Another Country By Hemingway Hemingway’s “In Another Country” is the story about the wounded soldiers who are puled back from the front lines due to injuries.
The setting of the story is a military hospital in Milan, Italy, during the war. Although author does not specifically give the time we can say that he refers to the World War I because this short story was published in the book “Men Without Women” in 1927; it was another book of short stories which collected The Killers, In Another Country, and others. In the story we can see two main and few secondary characters. The two main characters are an American soldier, at the same time the narrator, and the major.
The secondary characters are the boys, similar in age as narrator, and the doctor. Throughout interaction and conversation between characters, and through good selection of setting, author successfully passes the message and the theme of the story to readers. In my opinion the major theme of the story is loss and different ways of confronting it. At the same time loss is one of the things that all characters in the story share, it is something that connects them, makes them similar, and keeps them coming to the hospital every afternoon. Another theme that comes out in the story is the discrimination that the American soldier faced.
The narrator, and the protagonist, is an American soldier who was in the hospital due to the problem with his leg. There he was in contact with other people who shared similar experiences with him, due to their injuries and wounds but yet they differed a lot. For everybody he still was a foreigner and we figured that out from the way they named him. We are not told his name but we know him as the “American”. This is a kind of discrimination and that is even clearer to us at the point where everybody realized that the medals he gained were not because he really deserved them, but because he was American.
That made him feel like an outsider because the other’s behavior toward him changed, after they had read the citations. They knew that he hadn’t succeeded in the way they did. At that time he felt closer with a boy that didn’t have any medals, and who was only one day in the front line before he was wounded. That boy was in similar situation since he was wounded that early and didn’t manage to prove brave. He felt the same way but for a different reason, and he had a lot of common things to share with the American.
Beside discrimination the American boy also felt the loss. This loss was not only presented through his inability to move the leg but also through inability to continue the life he was living before the war. This is presented at the point that the doctor of the hospital asked him what he could do best before the war, and if he practiced any sport. Although doctor told him that he would be able to play football even better than before, it doesn’t seem that it gave him back self-confidence and faith.
The other main character is the major, who had problems with his arm and who didn’t believe that the therapy they were doing in the hospital would help. This unbelieving could be seen as soon as major was introduced in the story, since the answer at doctors question if he had confidence was negative. Although he didn’t believe in the machines, since they were new and they were the ones who should prove that they are working, he never missed a day. At one point he even said that all of that was nonsense and idiotic. Furthermore the major faced the loss of his wife, “whom he had not married until he was definitely invalided out of the war” (272).
The effects that fear of loss had on him we can see throughout the conversation with the American soldier about the future. He became very vulnerable at the point when the American boy said that he wants to go back to the States and get married. He believed that by getting married one is putting him/herself in a position of eventual loss. “He can not marry.
He cannot marry,” he said angrily. “If he is to lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that. He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose” (271) After making a phone-call, from which he learned about death of his wife, he came to the American and apologized for being rude. At this point the American realized what the major was thinking when he said that he is against marriage. Furthermore the doctor provided an American with more information about major and his wife, about her illness and their marriage.
Afterwards major didn’t come to the hospital for a few days, however when he returned he wasn’t the same person. Although the main characters played an important role to the story, I think we shouldn’t neglect the secondary ones who maybe didn’t change the things drastically, but offered a lot in building the story and understanding the main points of it. So one of the secondary characters is the doctor of the hospital who was in everyday contact with the patients, and was their hope, the man who supported them psychologically by giving them courage about the rout of their health. We see from the text that the doctor knew about the major’s wife and her illness, and we guess that he knew a lot of his patient’s lives and with an everyday interaction became a kind of their friend.
Besides the doctor there are also the boys, who were similar in age and medals, to the narrator, an American. “They were all three from Milan, and one of them was to be a lawyer, and one was to be a painter, and one had intended to be a soldier” (268). They were the ones with whom an American was sometimes going to the Caf Cova after the treatment in the hospital. There they were more similar then in the hospital because they had some similar experiences that people in Caf, who disliked them, couldn’t understand. These characters didn’t play an important role in the story except in the part when they changed their attitudes toward the American because of the way he earned his medals and in that way showed a kind of discrimination.