Close up, you can see Villalta make a face at the bull and curse it. When the bull would charge, he would swing solidly back. The crowd would roar. When he started to kill it, he and the bull would stare at each other. Then, they would charge at each other. For a minute, they would seem to join and become one entity. Then, Villalta would emerge, standing, as the bull bled and stared at Villalta.
The heroism of bullfighting is extreme, just like in war. Villalta is almost a mythic creature. He and the bull can join together as one because they are so much of the same mind. The two are both out for blood in a violent, masculine way. Even though the bull and Villalta are enemies, they understand each other well because they are both so masculine. According to Hemingway, a man and a woman cannot meld into each other (as seen in previous stories), but two masculine creatures can, even when they are enemies.
Sparknotes' commentary for On the Quai at Smyrna seems to have quite a few historical errors. The commentary states that the narrator is likely talking about the Greek evacuation of Thrace, but the title is On the Quai at Smyrna. Smyrna is a city in modern-day Turkey (now called Izmir). The Christian (mainly Greek and Armenian) part of Smyrna was burned in 1922 after the Turks recaptured the city from the Greeks. Hemingway was actually in Turkey just after the Great Fire to cover the Greco-Turkish War as a correspondent for the Toronto Star.... Read more→
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I think it is difficult to talk about this short story without acknowledging the use of literary minimalism. Several pieces of information are left out of the text but most readers come to the conclusion that Mrs. Elliot is a lesbian. Her marriage to Hubert is one of convenience, and her desire to have a baby is, arguably, to prove that she is not Lesbian (or just so that she can live in the current society without being judged).
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