They hit the white horse, and it stands up. The picador pulls himself into the saddle. Though the horse's guts are hanging out, he canters forward as the rider kicks him. The rider is ready with his lance out, anxious to charge the bull. Blood flows from between the horse's front legs. The bull does not know whether to charge or not.
This story is a gruesome glimpse into bullfighting. This sport, with its blood and gore, has somewhat replaced the fighting in the war. Indeed, this blurb can be seen as a metaphor for the war. The men in charge of the war, like generals and leaders of nations, rode safely like the picadors. The soldiers, then, had to act as the horse, beaten, dying, and still charging forward.
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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