At two o'clock in the morning, two Hungarians robbed a cigar store. As they were backing their wagon out of the parking lot, Drevitts and Boyle shot the two. When Drevitts realizes that they are dead, he gets nervous. Boyle says that they are crooks and "wops," so no one will care. Drevitts says he fired when he did not know that. Boyle answers that he can tell wops a mile away.
Clearly, the prejudices left over from the war emerge in this story. These two men, who are extremely American, assume that the men they have killed are "wops." "Wop" is a derogative term for an Italian. Therefore, the men are not correct in whom they have killed. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this story, though, is its placement among the other stories. This tale, combined with "Soldier's Home," completely disrupts the flow of the book. Until now, the longer stories have proceeded in roughly chronological order and have all involved Nick Adams. The chapters, then, have all been about some experience in the war. However, in Chapter VIII, the setting of the story seems to be America, where the war was not being fought. Yet, through this chapter and "Soldier's Home," we see that the war comes home with the boys, in "Soldier's Home" through Krebs unhappiness and in Chapter VIII through prejudice.
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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