In Another Country by Ernest Hemingway
In Another Country by Ernest Hemingway we have the theme of insecurity, alienation, struggle and connection. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator though many critics do believe that the narrator is Nick Adams. A character found in some of Hemingway’s other stories. What is also interesting about the story is the fact that some of the men proudly wear their medals and yet some don’t. The major being an example. It is as though he doesn’t need the medals to define himself as a soldier. Also Nick’s medals are frowned upon by the other men as they are different. Nick did not receive his medals from combat. This may be important as it somewhat alienates Nick from the other men. Nick and the other men are also determined to get better something that is noticeable by their daily visits to the hospital to use the machines. Even though the major has his doubts as to the effectiveness of the machines. The major also plays an important role in the story as Nick appears to respect him going as far as talking in Italian with the major. Though it is also noticeable that the major can scorn or scold Nick when his mood feels like it. If anything the major may be somewhat aloof when it comes to his engagement with Nick. As one would expect a major to be when Nick is not using the proper Italian grammar when they are speaking.
Hemingway may also be highlighting the amount of free time that patients had on their hands during the war. It is also noticeable that some in the community do not like the officers. It is possible that this dislike is due the fact that those who live in the town see the officers being treated for their wounds while ordinary soldiers aren’t. They are left to fight at the front line and existentially be killed. Whereas an officer has the luxury of return from the front line and can recuperate in a hospital. Which is very much the case for the four men (officers) in the story. You would also suspect that each of the officers would be able to make a connection with one another. However this is not the case in the story. They are all fighting the same enemy but there is no sense of brotherhood among any of the officers. As to why this might be is difficult to say but it could be a case that each man considers himself superior to the other. Which may leave some to feel somewhat insecure. As insecure as they are when it comes to the benefits of the exercise machines.
The daily visits to the hospital are also the only things which appear to pull the four officers together. Though they have more in common with each other than they know. The fact they are injured and reliant on the help of the doctors and nurses in the hospital being one commonality. War has also affected each man differently particularly the Lieutenant of Arditti. He is the most detached of all the officers in the story. Most likely because he has seen too much death. This may be important as sometimes the mental scars of war can be more severe than the physical ones. It is easier to get over a broken leg than it is to forget about the atrocities that you might see during battle. It is also noticeable that none of the men sufficiently bond with each other. They go to a coffee shop but there is no real sense that the men are bonding with each other on a deeper level. This may be important as Hemingway may be suggesting that at the time the story was written very few bonds were made between officers from different countries. They would only see each other for a small time in hospital and their primary concern was to look after themselves. Nick for example doesn’t engage with much conversation with anybody apart from the major and even that can be hostile.
The end of the story is interesting as the reader sees a very a human side of the major. His wife has died and the major has returned to the hospital. The fact that the major begins to look out the window may also be symbolically important too. By doing so he may be settling thoughts in his mind as to his next course of action. The war has taken his hand and his wife but he can get his hand back. What is needed is the drive the major showed when he was on the front-line. That along with using the exercise machines in the hospital. Though it is more likely that the major has lost all heart. In a very small space of time his world has changed and there is very little he can do about it. He can work on his hand and return to the front line. However his drive to live may be gone. For the major the war will be always remembered as something that is sad. Not because of his withered hand but because he lost his wife during the war. If anything the major may feel more wounded by the loss of his wife than by the wounds he received on his hand.