On a hot day, the narrator and his company had erected a barricade across a bridge. It was too heavy to lift but perfect to shoot around. The enemies tried to get around it and rush it, with no success. Finally, though, the company got word that their flank had gone, so they had to retreat. They were disappointed.
This story corresponds to Nick Adams's relationship with Marjorie. The idea of this mini-story is that one can never anticipate when a fantastically built structure will become useless. Nick's relationship with Marjorie is similar because Nick seems to love her and the times that they have had together. Yet, something has changed so that he feels that he has to leave her, despite the fun that they have had together.
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).