A short story which illustrates Hemingway’s code is “In Another Country.” The purpose of this essay is to discuss Hemingway’s approach to the code and the code-hero as it appears in this story. It has been well pointed out that the majority of Hemingway’s true code-heros are older men, non-Americans, professional soldiers or sportsmen or gangsters of some sort.(1) In this story the Italian Major is a code hero of the type most admired by Hemingway, for he fulfills all the requirements of the type. In addition to providing us with an image of the perfect code hero, he serves as an example to the narrator of the story, who through the Major gains an insight into his own life and finds, perhaps, that he has been on the wrong track. This structure, where the narrator is the focus and protagonist of the story, and the code-hero is the teacher of the narrator, occurs frequently in Hemingway’s works. It has been termed the tutor-tyro type of story, in which the tyro is “literally initiated into a comprehension of certain mysteries that had been hidden from him; through the process of initiation, he loses an old self and gains a new one.”(2) The mystery in this case is the code.
“In Another Country” takes place in Italy during the war. The first-person narrator, an American, visits the hospital daily for rehabilitation treatments, and spends the rest of his time with a group of Italians, drinking and talking about the war. At the hospital each day he sees an Italian Major whose hand has been injured, and who is receiving treatments. He was once a fencing champion. All of the Italians and the American says the narrator “felt held together by there being something that had happened that they, the people who disliked us, did not understand.”(3) The Major, whose treatments took place at the machine next to the American, is portrayed as being every bit the professional soldier. He insists that the American learn Italian grammar, with what has been called “considerable dignity and somewhat stuffy rectitude.”(4) Yet the most striking characteristic of the Major is his stoicism, his seeming acceptance of his wound and...
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In Another Country Summary
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“In Another Country” is a short story by Ernest Hemingway which appears in his 1927 collection, Men Without Women, his second volume of stories. His trademark, journalistic style was already evident in this piece by the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author. While the narrator of “In Another Country” is not named, it is commonly accepted that it is Nick Adams, Hemingway’s semi-autobiographical alter-ego. Indeed, the story appears in The Nick Adams Stories, a 1972 posthumous collection that anthologized all twenty-four of the Adams stories and sketches. The story is based on Hemingway’s experience in a hospital in Milan during World War I, and foreshadows many of the themes explored in his 1929 novel, A Farewell to Arms.
It is fall, and a number of soldiers who were wounded in World War I are in Milan, being treated for their injuries at a hospital a short distance from the front. Nick Adams is an American soldier and former athlete whose knee has been injured. He is rehabilitating his knee using a machine. An Italian officer who is older than Nick has an injured hand, a situation made all the more tragic by the fact that he had been a fencing champion. The doctor offers encouragement, but the Italian officer does not have any faith in medicine’s ability to heal him. Nick has developed some friendships at the hospital. Among them are three other Italian officers, one of whom was planning on a career as a lawyer, another one a painter, and a third whose desired path was to be a soldier. They are all decorated war heroes as a result of their service, as is Nick Adams.
The soldier who planned to be a lawyer has been awarded more medals than the others and is respected for it. Another young soldier, also wounded, spends time with Nick and his friends. This man keeps his face covered with a handkerchief, as much of his face was wounded during battle and had to be reconstructed. Nick feels connected to the group of officers as they have all experienced similar things. In addition, their friendship affords them a certain level of comfort and protection because the local people hate the officers and make their feelings known to them. Although they have developed a certain level kinship, there is also a divide between them. The Italian officers keep a certain distance between themselves and Nick, due to their sense that Nick only received a medal because he is an American, while the Italians’ medals were awarded for acts of bravery. This attitude on the part of the Italian officers leads Nick to cultivate his friendship with the young boy with the damaged face.
The boy was wounded before he could prove his mettle in the war. Nick comes to the hospital every day to work with the machines that exercise his leg. While doing so, the officer with the wounded hand teaches him to speak Italian. The officer becomes angry with Nick when Nick tells him that he plans to get married. The Italian officer tells him that men should not marry because, ultimately, they will lose their wives. He later explains to Nick that his own wife had just died and he apologizes for his outburst. After this exchange, whenever the officer comes back to the hospital to receive treatment, he seems distant, and simply stares out of the window.
Loneliness and feelings of emptiness pervade the story. By focusing on the emotional lives of these recovering soldiers, rather than just showing the physical treatments the men are receiving, Hemingway highlights the fact that the wounds these men carry are not merely physical. Nick is in a foreign country, and essentially alone. He is taunted by people on the streets, although his association with the Italian officers reduces people’s hostility towards him. He cannot shake the feeling that he is inferior to the others. There is a sense that, despite the modern machines and the dedicated doctors, the soldiers, and Nick himself, cannot be restored to the way they were before the war, to their former selves. Nick has stayed in Italy and remained with the others to receive treatments that seem to be fruitless; he is frustrated that the machines are not helping him in his recovery. It is implied that Nick is not receiving the treatment that he really needs.
Above all, “In Another Country” demonstrates the literary style that Ernest Hemingway was famous for. In his obituary, The New York Times said: “Ernest Hemingway achieved world-wide fame and influence as a writer by a combination of great emotional power and a highly individual style that could be parodied but never successfully imitated. His lean and sinewy prose; his mastery of a kind of laconic, understated dialogue; his insistent use of repetition, often of a single word, or name–built up and transmitted an inner excitement to thousands of his readers. In his best work, the effect was accumulative; it was as if the creative voltage increased as the pages turned.”