Peduzzi got very drunk off of the four lira he earned gardening at the hotel. He saw a young man on the path. The young man said he would be ready in about an hour. Peduzzi had three more grappas. The young man found him and asked if his wife should come behind with the rods. Peduzzi said yes. But, he became uncomfortable when she trailed far behind. He told her to catch up but she did not understand. Finally, her husband translated for her and she joined them. They stopped at a liquor store to get Marsala for the trip, but they were closed. They got the alcohol at a restaurant nearby. There, the husband tells his wife that he is sorry she is feeling bad and apologizes for speaking the way he did at lunch.
They all leave the restaurant and Peduzzi decides that he will carry the rods in the open, even though it is illegal to fish. Peduzzi keeps leading them to the fishing hole. He is speaking in both an Italian and a German dialect because he does not know which they understand. The husband asks how long it will take to get there. When Peduzzi says that it will be half an hour, the husband tells his wife to go back to the hotel. She does. Peduzzi is shocked. The men begin to fish, but Peduzzi has forgotten some equipment. They drink a little then go back to town. Peduzzi says they will fish the next day. The husband gives him money for equipment but tells him that he probably cannot come.
Again Hemingway paints a portrait of the distance between a man and a woman. The fact that the reader does not know what the problem is proves to be irrelevant. Hemingway is trying to portray the difficulty with which men and women get along. The wife, here, is silent and sullen, and the man is apologetic for being harsh at lunch. They cannot get past this problem because they are incompatible, not because the problem is a big one. Peduzzi's reaction to the wife leaving also highlights a difference between European and American modes of interaction. Hemingway seems to point out throughout these stories that Americans have more childish relationships than Europeans. Peduzzi's surprise, then, could come from the fact that few Europeans would lose their temper to such a degree.
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).