During a bombardment of a trench, a young soldier lies very still and prays steadily. He promises God that if he lives, he will tell the world about him. The soldier lives and rebuilds the trench. He never discusses God with anyone.
In war, Hemingway is illustrating, unbelievers turn to God. Any sort of support is helpful at that point. Later, this soldier does not live up to the promises he made because he is in a comfortable enough situation not to need religion as a crutch.
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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