The crowd is shouting and throwing things, first bread, then cushions and wine bottles. The bull becomes exhausted from so much stabbing and lies down. Finally someone kills it. The crowd rushes into the stadium. Someone cuts off the bull's tail. A child steals it. The narrator sees him later at a cafe. He has no remorse.
This passage extends the metaphor of bullfighting as war. The fighters tired out the enemy (the bull) and then killed it. Once it was killed, which symbolizes the other army being defeated, the audience (the civilians) tries to profit from the result as well.
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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