Discuss the isolation of the narrator in Ernest Hemingway's In Another Country
Discuss about the isolation of the narrator in “ In Another Country”
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born at 8 o'clock in the morning on July 21st 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. In nearly 62 years of his lifetime, his literary reputation was unsurpassed. The Characters that he created were not only captive the literary critics but also the average men as well. It can be said that Ernest Hemingway was a greatest American Writer in the twentieth century. His experience as a soldier in Italy during World War 1 inspired him to write many of his later masterpieces. One of which is the story “In Another Country” in the book “Men Without Women”. “In Another Country” is a short story about wounded soldiers who are recuperating after being injured on the front line. The main theme of the story is about the isolation feeling that the American soldier, or the narrator, has to confront.
The first thing I would like to mention is the isolation of the narrator in his emotion. The setting of the story is in a military hospital in Milan, Italy during World War 1. As an American soldier, the narrator always feels homesick at a certain when being out of his homeland. Moreover, at the first glance, the title of the story, In Another Country”, Ernest Hemingway implies that the narrator himself is just a tourist in a foreign country rather than a real soldier who really fights for justice. This is the reason why he feels that he is undeserved for the medals. By describing his visiting to The Cova Café, the narrator lets the reader capture his tourist characterization. Furthermore, his perspective toward the Italian is “Italian is such an easy language…that I could not take a great interest”. The fact shows that the narrator has a light-hearted attitude toward the Italian culture, and he has no relationship to this country and the war as well. That is the reason why he feels isolated from what he is pursuing.
Another point is his isolation from companionship that is the discrimination the narrators has to face after being injured from an accident. Although all of them, the Italian and the American soldiers, are rewarded medals for their heroic action, the Italian soldiers feel disdain toward the American soldier who is considered to be not worth deserving the medals. Ernest Hemingway explores the back-side of the reward in the war. The writer reveals that the medals are just for decoration rather than the recognition.
The final point to demonstrate for the narrator's isolation is his separation from the damage of the war in Italy. Almost the characters in the story are injured or casualties. The death, ruin, loss and failure are pervasive everywhere in Italy. The damage of the war is so terrible, and it seems to destroy the culture and civilization of a country. The symbolization for the damage of the war is obviously seen everywhere in Italy as “There was much game hanging outside the shops, and the snow powdered in the fur of the foxes and the wind blew their tails. The deer hung stiff and heavy and empty, and small birds blew in the wind and the wind turned their feathers”. As mentioned above, the narrator ironically describes himself as a tourist rather than a real soldier. After the war, he will come back to his homeland where he will be separated completely from the ruin of the war. Ernest Hemingway insists on that the bravery action is not just only fighting the enemy on the front line but also confronting with the damage of the war. Because of his thinking like that, the writer feels undeserving for the medals for heroic action in the war, and he separates himself from the war and the Italian people.
In brief, the main theme of “In Another country” is the feeling of isolation of a young American soldier in Italy during World War 1. Throughout the story, Ernest Hemingway also explores an unknown fact about war. In some extents, war represents for the loss of function, loss of purpose and failure. Furthermore, war also brings detachment to human's emotional feeling.
Discuss the lost of the major from World War I
"In another Country” took place as a sad story which is permeated by loss, failure, and ruin. Many of the characters grappled with a loss of function, a loss of purpose, and a loss of faith. Among them, the Italian major was the one who suffers the most from the war. His loss is greater than anyone else: a loss of function, a loss of purpose, and a loss of faith.
The first thing to be mentioned is the major's loss of function. He received treatment for a shriveled hand from a doctor. Although the doctor kept encouraging his patient, his prognosis is dubious. From this point, readers can understand that the possibility for recovery is very low. The loss of function of his hand is likely pervasive. More painfully, before the war, the major was once a renowned fencer. Yet then, he felt nothing but angry and bitter. If we know that one of the most important things in playing football is the ability of running and the two hands play a crucial role in keeping balance when running, we can understand how hurt the major is with his shriveled hand. Profoundly judging, this loss of function can be considered as a physical loss.
The second thing I would like to discuss is the major's loss of purpose and of faith. About physical condition, his shriveled hand turned him to be definitely invalided out of the war. About mental condition, the death of his young wife seems to drown him in an indefinite pain. This is proved through the way he spoke very angrily and bitterly to the American soldier: “He cannot marry. He cannot marry. 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”. Readers can feel sympathy for the major when realizing that he was speaking out these words in pain. His pain was so great that in a certain moment he could not control himself. Consequently, he lost his faith upon life. With his shriveled hand and his dead wife, his life became meaningless. He likes football, yet he could not play anymore. He loves his country, but now he could no longer fight for it. He is much in love with his wife, but she has gone away. In my opinion, all these terrible things are too much for a person to endure. To this point, the major's loss of purpose and of faith has been clear. This is more a mental loss.
In conclusion, talking about the loss of the major in World War I, I can feel it as a loss of function, a loss of purpose, and a loss of faith. It seems to me that all the worst things have happened to the major to such an extremely extend that nothing can discourage him more. Also, I feel sorry for him. He is a good person but life is so harsh to him.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Whenever a war breaks out, it always causes soldier to suffer from severe physical and emotional tolls. But not every soldier considers his losses as meaningful and heroic sacrifices, instead, they may think of the losses as accident or bad luck. This is specially true to the American soldier in the story “In Another Country”. His different thinking and isolation from other soldier help the readers have a good insight into what is so – called a just war
The obvious reason for his isolation is the difference in nationality and language. Because he is an American, living in Milan only in a short time is not enough to help him feel welcomed by his Italian comrades as well as by Milan's local residents. Differences in nationality and language are always a major barrier preventing people from getting on with each other.
Another reason for his isolation is local residents' prejudice to soldier. Because soldier often cruelly commit crime such as plundering, raping or killing innocent people, people feel insecure whenever they see them. The bad image of a soldier increases local residents' hatred for the narrator – a foreign soldier
Besides these 2 obvious reasons above, his isolation stems from his indifferent attitude to the war. Before being transferred into hospital, he fights at the front. He is a soldier who directly participates in the war but during the time he is in Milan, he never pays attention to the situation of the battlefield: He is never bothered about finding out if his side gains victory or is defeated, how many soldier die or how much of the toll is. He is carefree to enjoy peace in the hospital feeling relieved that he does not have to risk his life outside the battlefield: “In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it anymore.” He cares for nothing but the fact that he is now safe from the war. Staying in hospital, he feels as if he is living “in another country” where there is no bullet, no gun and no danger. Of course, he is now geographically far from the war, but in his mind he intentionally places himself far from the place he should belong to – the battlefield. How irresponsible he is!
When a lot of his comrades are fighting fiercely against enemy, he spend time studying different ways leading to the hospital, watching the scenery in Milan, chatting with coffee girls and wandering around the street. His carefree attitude to the war indicates that his status is no more than the status of a soldier of fortune with no fighting will. As a foreign soldier fighting with no purpose and no political ideal, he finds no meaning in the war, which in turn makes him feel isolated from everyone in Milan.
The narrator isolation also comes from the complete difference between him and other 3 Milan officers in the hospital with whom he has nothing in common. Whereas medals are deserving rewards for the three Milan officer's hard and heroic fighting, the narrator medals are like decorating things rather than recognition. Staying in the same hospital does not develop camaraderie and solidarity between them because the 3 Milan officers fight for their own country and they conceptualize this war as a just war. They are so enthusiastic for the struggle that the narrator describes them as “hunting hawks”. In contrast, the narrator acts like a foreign visitor in Milan: He gives ironic remark about “patriotic coffee girls” and spend time studying Italian!
The narrator isolation is a result of his disconnection to the war. Although he is a soldier, his attitude and behavior tell us that he is a stranger, an outsider to the war. Like other soldiers, he has to experience physical damage (his leg is wounded) but he is not aware this wounded leg is the loss that the war brings to him, just an accident. It means that he is not affected by the war, either physically or emotionally. His isolation proves that he is not a real soldier because he does not understand the nature of the war he participates in, which is obviously revealed in the way he mention the war “In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it anymore.” His expression neither suggests emotion nor judgment.
In addition, the narrator optimism makes himself isolated from the rest. In the story, the major suffers from the big loss of his life when the war takes all his faith (he does not believe the machine and thinks that the war will never end) and preventing him from meeting his wife for the last time before she dies. In contrast, the narrator is very optimistic about his future ahead. He dreams of returning to his hometown and having a happy life. It is in the wartime but he can think about his private affairs. He is not different from a tourist who considers Milan as a temporary destination. Not living in his own country, he is not fully conscious of the tolls and losses that this war leaves behind for Italians
The techniques Hemingway uses in most of his works are understatement and “iceberg theory”. If we interpret this story following these 2 techniques, we can be sure that it condemns wars. Through the isolation, we can have a clear view about the negative side of a war: we should not attribute the word “just” for any war because what is so – called “just war”, by its very nature, is only a noun used to encourage soldiers. Many soldiers go to the front, but how many of them really want to fight? How many of them can fully understand the purpose of the war? how many of them can be aware that the politician are making use of them? After all, it is the vague way the narrator conceptualizes the war that leads to his isolation
In conclusion, Hemingway writes this story following the “iceberg theory” which takes the isolation of an American soldier as a factor to contribute to illustrating the meaningless aspects of wars.
THE BIG LOSS OF THE MAJOR
Human beings are used to the word “WAR.” In fact, the history of any country is built up by fighting, revolutions, competitions, rebellions, etc. which are all different forms of the war. People may have their own definitions of war but I define “War is loss!” Whatever the purpose of a war is and however rightful the war appeared to be, it brings loss, little or huge, to both soldiers and people at the rear-base. The major in “In Another Country” suffered a very big loss. He returned from the war, gaining nothing but a dark life that he could not resign.
Those who used to have a wonderful job and a great fame understand the feeling of losing these things. The more we have, the more painful the feeling of loss is. It is the case of the major. He used to be a great fencer in Italy. I think that sport is part of life of most of the men, especially the European men. Playing sports is not just a passion, but it shows the strength and power of a real man. For that reason, to encourage the American, the doctor said that he could play football again better than ever. A singer is no longer able to sing. A doctor is no longer able to take care of the patients. That is a terrible shock in life. Alike, that a sportsman no longer plays sports is an unacceptable situation. A major's hand was damaged in the war. It was withered so that he could not hold things by that hand and could not play football anymore. One of my friends had his hand tendons being cut and he can no longer use that hand. Although he did not care much about using-hand sports (because he can still play football with his legs), I saw a severe spiritual collapse at him. He said he was a useless boy and he hated anyone who showed sympathy for him. He could not do heavy work like a man in his family. He didn't want to join in activities at school and in the church; for fear that his helpless hand was exposed to people's eyes and jokes. I think that even when sports was not a problem, my friend as well as the major still endured a difficult time, a loss of strength, a loss of confidence, and a loss of a man's dignity.
The loss that the major suffered was bigger after his wife's death. She was very young and she had waited for him during the time he joined the war. When the major was completely invalid out of the war, he returned, got married to that woman, and must have hoped for a happy family. Ironically, his wife died very quickly after that. A man who were wounded in the war and could not see any hope of recovery now lost the most important person in his life. The man was tormented by the sense of loss, the regret for his abandonment of his beloved, and the hatred of the war. “A man must not marry,” he cried out when hearing that the American intended to get married. “Don't get married because you will be very painful when you lose your spouse! Don't be like me!” are the words that I can hear from the major's broken heart. When talking about his wife's death, he wept, choked, bitted his lips, and cried, “I am utterly unable to resign myself.” What a big loss! He had happiness and then lost it very quickly, so it might be better if he hadn't have it “He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose.” Such bitter words showed how much despaired the major felt.
The major didn't believe in the machines but he kept going to hospital to exercise with them. He did things as a habit. He did things but did not know if it was effective or if he needed it or not. I can feel a sense of abandonment and paralysis at him. The pain was full in his soul so that there was no place for hope and consciousness. He didn't believe in the machines or he didn't dare to believe? A person losing too many things might not take risk to trust or desire anything more since he did not want to be “in the position to lose.” Even the doctor gave him evidences to convince him in his hand's recovery, he just looked out the windows “Don't let me hope because I'm afraid to be hopeless!” “There is no hope, there will not be hopelessness,” might be the lesson the poor man learned from such a big loss in life. Despite he might know the machines could cure his hand, he knew exactly that they could not bring his wife back for him. There is loss that we can compensate, but there is one that is beyond our ability.
The life sometimes takes too many things from us. Lots of people find that it is not fair because they have to suffer a lot and lose a lot. And then we often blame our miseries on the life and the fate. The major said that “If he is to lose everything …” He thought that he was born to lose everything; and he was admitting that he was leaded by the destiny. Therefore, he accepted to “have nothing lo lose” rather than to “have things that might be lost” Different from him, the American who used to attend the war, used to be wounded, and was being detached from his own country, from the Italian society, and from just his fellows; dared to look ahead for a better life. He knew exactly “the machines were new … and it was [him] to prove them.” He hoped to get married when he returned to the States. On the contrary, the major said to the doctor “No, [I have no confidence],” and kept talking “He'll lose it … He lose it … Don't argue with me.” I cannot see any hope or determination in this man. The loss made him so and it made him lose one more thing, his expectation.
What the major lost was not just a hand, a lovely wife, but also a vital trust in the life. The life in his view was full of loss, suffering, and despairation. In spite of his tears, in spite of the doctor and his machines, his damaged soul could never be healed. The war had derived too much from him. It turned a great fencer, a happy man with his wife, a brave and enthusiastic soldier into a man living for nothing and believing in nothing, even in himself.
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 Café 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 Café, 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.
The story opens in the fall in Milan. The narrator, an American soldier who was wounded ( bi thuong) in World War I, describes going to the hospital every afternoon for physical rehabilitation ( phuc hoi). He explains that although there are many ways to get to the hospital, he must always cross one of three bridges. On one of the bridges is a woman who sells roasted chestnuts ( hat de nuong). He likes the warmth of the fire and the warmth of the chestnuts once they are in his pocket on the cold, windy, fall days.
Each day while in rehabilitation, he meets up with a group of former soldiers. They sit in their "machines that were to make so much difference" with the hopes of a full recovery from their injuries. We learn that the narrator used to like to play football when his doctor tells him that he will be able to play football again "better than ever."
We meet one of the other soldiers in the group, an Italian major ( thieu ta). His hand is small and withered and he spends his afternoons trying to rehabilitate it. Although he was once a great fencer (before the war, he now cannot fence ( bao ve) because of his injury. His machine has leather straps that flap the fingers, trying to loosen their stiffness. The major expresses doubt and the doctor reassures by showing him a "before" picture of a small withered ( tieu tuy) hand and an after shot of a slightly larger hand (after it had "taken a machine course").
Three others that meet at the hospital on those fall afternoons are originally from Milan; they sometimes walk with the narrator to a café after their treatment. They would always take a shortcut ( duong tat) through the communist ( cong san) neighborhood. Even though the people do not like to see the officers ( si quan) on their territory, the officers feel safe because there are four of them together. Sometimes a fifth soldier joins them on their trips to the café. He wears a black silk scarf over his face because he does not have a nose - he had been in the military academy and then went straight to the front lines. Within an hour, he had been wounded. He did eventually have his face rebuilt, but the narrator explains that his nose never looked quite right.All of them have medals from the war except for the soldier wearing the scarf - he did not fight long enough to earn any. One of the other three soldiers (the one who had wanted to be a lawyer) had three medals but the other soldiers only had one each. While they had all been around death and had become detached because of it, this soldier had been around death more and was even more detached ( dc phai lam nhiem vu dac biet). The one thing that holds them all together, however, is the fact that they meet together every afternoon at the hospital.
The narrator also explains that the others are polite and understanding towards his medals, but, once they find out what he had done to get them, they change their manner towards him. The papers with his medals say that he had received the medals for simply being an American, not for some heroic act. The other three had done something other than being wounded (which is just an accident, anyway) to earn their medals. The narrator sometimes imagines that he had done all the different things the others had done to earn their medals, but is proud of his ribbons and medals none-the-less. He also admits that he is afraid to die and probably would never have done those things anyway. Eventually, even though the three soldiers from Milan stick together ( gan bo), they drift away ( far away) from the narrator. However, the narrator does stay close to the young soldier who was wounded during his first day in action.
The narrator then explains that the major does not believe in bravery and the stories of the three soldiers from Milan. He does not shy ( ne tranh) away from the narrator regardless of his medals and ribbons and their history. Instead, the major ( thieu ta) gives the narrator Italian grammar lessons while they talk during rehabilitation. While the major never misses a day of rehabilitation, it is obvious that he does not believe it will do any good.
During one of the days, the major is particularly agitated ( boi roi), says that the machines are simply nonsense, and scolds the narrator for not learning his grammar. He calls the narrator "a stupid, impossible disgrace." The major asks the narrator what he will do when the war is over. The narrator explains that he wants to return to the United States and to get married. The major says that it is foolish to get married because that is just placing himself in a position to lose. The major then orders an attendant to unhook ( mo khuy ao) him from the machine and goes to get a massage. When he returns, he apologizes to the narrator saying that he just lost his wife - she had come down with pneumonia ( viem phoi) and had only been sick a few days. No one had expected her to die. The major then leaves and does not return for rehabilitation for three days. When he does return, he has a black band around his sleeve ( tay ao). The doctor has placed framed photographs of injuries before and after using the machines on the walls around the room. Those in front of the major's machine are pictures of hands like the major's that have been completely restored. The narrator marvels ( tu hoi) at how the doctor gets these pictures because they are supposed to be the first people to use them. It does not matter to the major, however, because all he does is look out the window anyway.