In Another Country
What we do and observe everyday determines us as people. Our reactions, and expressions of our thoughts allow those around us to perceive who we are. Ernest Hemingway shows in the short novel In Another Country the various types of lives people lead, and the issues the face day to day. In this piece Hemingway presents his reader with a variety of characters ranging from the optimistic doctor to Signor Maggiore hardened by war and death. Ernest Hemingway s method of characterization is a simple system, presenting a few of the characters inner thoughts, and their reactions to their everyday occurrences.
One character Hemingway gives insight to early on in the story is the doctor at the hospital who runs the rehabilitation for the injured soldiers. A quote that best exemplifies the doctor s overall characterization throughout the novel is seen when he is speaking to the main character, That will all pass. You are a fortunate young man. You will play football again like a champion. (Hemingway, Ernest, In Another Country, New York: Macmillan publishing, 1974, p. 8) In this excerpt the doctor is telling the main character that his maimed leg will someday be fully rehabilitated. The machines for rehabilitation the doctor operates are mysterious none of the soldiers are sure of the effects they have, but the doctor speaks with great confidence in them. In this quote the doctor expresses his compassion towards the soldiers injuries, and his apologetic nature is also witnessed. He feels such pity for the soldiers that he will seemingly say anything to give them hope reassuring the main character that he will not only play football again, but will play like a
champion . The Machines positive effects are questioned because they have never been tested, and the doctor tells the soldiers that they are working because he wishes so gravely the he can help them. Saying that he will cure them even if he does not know. Hemingway characterizes the doctor greatly in this simplistic quote, showing him as an optimist who is very caring but not entirely honest with his patients.
A character on the opposite end of the spectrum from the doctor is Signor Maggiore, a man Hemingway characterizes in a different manner but with the same method. This hardened major from the Italian infantry has an injured hand that flaps up and down on a machine. A piece of dialogue that shows the characterization of the major is, You have confidence? No, said the major. (Hemingway, P.8) The main character is speaking to the major about if he thinks the machine will help rehabilitate his maimed hand. Signor Maggiore responds with the grim simplistic answer no . This shows that the major is used to painful rejections from war, and not receiving the best chances in life. He is not trusting in the doctor s words, and is much more of a pessimist than an optimist. The war has hardened him in an irreversible manner. Also his ranking of major gives the impression of an older wiser figure in this short novel. Hemingway utilizes his simplistic skill of characterization by telling his reader a great deal about Signor Maggiore through the singular answer of no .
Along with the quote previously given a reaction Signor Maggiore has towards his wife s death gives great insight into this character. One particular day on the machines the main character and the major begin discussing his plans for marriage when
he returns to the states. The major becomes very angry with him telling him he cannot marry because it is not right to put yourself in a position to lose something valuable, such as a wife. Signor Maggiore then apologizes for his irrational anger, and says it was because he has just received news of his wife s untimely death. The main character expresses his sympathetic feelings for him in this quote, Oh – - – I said, feeling sick for him I am so sorry. He stood there biting his lower lip. It is very difficult, he said. I cannot resign myself. (Hemingway, p.12) When Signor Maggiore expresses where his true feelings of anger are derived from he cries, but when he cries he tries to hold it back. The major acts ashamed to cry it is considered a sign of weakness to him. Something a weak soldier would do in battle that is afraid of death. The major s deep love for his wife is also seen. Living in war as he did he became accustomed to loss and the grief that comes with it, and getting past it. When his wife dies although it strikes a chord in him so deep that he cannot help but show his sadness and mourning. Also when the major says he cannot resign he is speaking of not leaving the war. He does not wish to leave now because he feels he has nothing else to live for. Ernest Hemingway s brilliance in characterization is shown here. He shows how deep love can penetrate the hardest soul through the simple reaction of lashing out on a fellow man, and how it can put the toughest war veteran into a mess of emotion.
Another character more balanced between Signor Maggiore and the doctor is the main character. He is a young man surrounded by figures from all different backgrounds much different than his own, and is unsure of himself. In this extract the main character
reflects on thoughts of his life, I would have never have done such things, and I was very much afraid to die, and often lay in bed at night by myself, afraid to die and wondering how I would be when I went back to the front again. (Hemingway, 10) Here the main character thinks to himself he has not conquered any such great feat in his life, and is somewhat jealous of those around him. Who have done more and received their injuries in battle, while the main character received his in an accident. His life is empty to him, and he is afraid to go back to the front because he does not want to die a man who has never done anything worthy of being called an accomplishment. Hemingway presents his reader with a main character full of worry and fear all seen in this quote. The author also shows the main character is troubled with inner thoughts, not expressing them to anyone throughout In Another Country.
Ernest Hemingway s skillful methods of characterization that are decisive and simple add greatly to In Another Country. This short novel is touching presenting an array of characters with diverse emotions, and reactions to each other. Hemingway s basic system of characterization places emphasis on the reader inferring who the characters are, and makes them think deeper into his work. This short piece of literature is heartfelt from experience, and gives one a greater respect for those who fight and die for something noble.