In Our Time

Ernest Hemingway

Chapter VI

The Battler

A Very Short Story


Nick is propped up against a church wall so that the machine-gun fire cannot hit him. He has been hit in the spine. Rinaldi is lying nearby. He looks at the house across the street, which had almost been destroyed. Two dead Austrians are lying in the shade of that house. More dead lay up the street. The battle was going well, so Nick thought that medics would arrive soon. Nick speaks to Rinaldi, who is having trouble breathing. Nick is pleased with his comment that he and Rinaldi have made a separate peace. "Not patriots," Nick says. Rinaldi does not answer.


At this point, the chapter headings also become about Nick. We do not know, but we can guess that the other chapter headings have been about him as well. After this point the longer stories start involving the war as well. Hemingway leaves these two questions open, perhaps to confuse the reader, perhaps to emphasize the fact that soldiers' experiences are interchangeable. Although not every soldier experiences the same set of events, many soldiers experience the same emotional effects. Therefore, Hemingway might have written entirely in pronouns to show the universality of these reactions.

In this story, Nick thinks about the futility of war. He sees the dead (and dying) bodies, the destroyed houses, and his own useless legs. Then, he tells Rinaldi that they have made a separate peace, one for those that are not patriots. This line indicates that many soldiers do not even feel dedicated to the cause of their country. They do not want to be in the war and would just as soon make peace. Nick's sarcastic tone as he thinks about the war also shows a character development. Before, Nick never became sarcastic and dark. Yet, the war has brought that out in him. He is maturing, but he is also becoming cynical.

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On the Quai at Smyrna

by bhnnad, December 04, 2012

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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