In Another Country

by

Ernest Hemingway

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The Narrator Character Analysis

An American soldier injured in World War I, the unnamed narrator—widely accepted to be Hemingway’s autobiographical alter ego Nick Adams—is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Milan. Before the war he used to play football, but no longer can due to his leg injury. He spends every afternoon at the hospital in the machines that are meant to heal him and the other officers seeking treatment, although he doubts their effectiveness. While at the hospital he also learns Italian grammar from the major, but worries about sounding foolish when he cannot get it right. Though largely isolated from the foreign environment surrounding him, the narrator does manage to befriend four other military officers his own age who are also seeking treatment at the hospital. The narrator has earned a medal for his contribution to the war, though the other boys have earned their medals for more daring acts, causing him to feel insecure about his own courage. Though they drift apart, the narrator remains friends with the boy with no nose who was injured only an hour into his first battle, as he feels more comfortable with someone else who has also not proven their bravery.

The Narrator Quotes in In Another Country

The In Another Country quotes below are all either spoken by The Narrator or refer to The Narrator. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Isolation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of In Another Country published in 1987.
In Another Country Quotes

In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more.

Related Characters: The Narrator
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

Beyond the old hospital were the new brick pavilions, and there we met every afternoon and were all very polite and interested in what was the matter and sat in the machines that were to make so much difference.

Related Characters: The Narrator
Related Symbols: Machines
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

We walked the short way through the communist quarter because we were four together. The people hated us because we were officers, and from a wineshop some one would call out, “A basso gli ufficiali!” as we passed.

Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

He had lived a very long time with death and was a little detached. We were all a little detached, and there was nothing that held us together except that we met every afternoon at the hospital.

Related Symbols: Medals
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] we felt held together by there being something that had happened that they, the people who disliked us, did not understand.

Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

I was a friend, but I was never really one of them after they had read the citations, because it had been different with them and they had done very different things to get their medals.

Related Symbols: Medals
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

The three with the medals were like hunting-hawks; and I was not a hawk, although I might seem a hawk to those who had never hunted; they, the three, knew better and so we drifted apart.

Related Symbols: Medals
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

The major came very regularly to the hospital. I do not think he ever missed a day, although I am sure he did not believe in the machines. There was a time when none of us believed in the machines, and one day the major said it was all nonsense.

Related Characters: The Narrator, The Major
Related Symbols: Machines
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

If he is to lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that. He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose.

Related Characters: The Major (speaker), The Narrator
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

He looked straight past me and out through the window. Then he began to cry. "I am utterly unable to resign myself,” he said and choked. And then crying, his head up looking at nothing, carrying himself straight and soldierly, with tears on both his cheeks and biting his lips, he walked past the machines and out the door.

Related Characters: The Major (speaker), The Narrator
Related Symbols: Machines
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

When he came back, there were large framed photographs around the wall, of all sorts of wounds before and after they had been cured by the machines. In front of the machine the major used were three photographs of hands like his that were completely restored. I do not know where the doctor got them. I always understood we were the first to use the machines. The photographs did not make much difference to the major because he only looked out of the window.

Related Characters: The Narrator, The Major, The Doctor
Related Symbols: Machines, Photographs
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire In Another Country LitChart as a printable PDF.
In Another Country PDF

The Narrator Character Timeline in In Another Country

The timeline below shows where the character The Narrator appears in In Another Country. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
In Another Country
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
The war is happening nearby, but the (unnamed) narrator does “not go to it anymore.” The fall in Milan is cold. The dark comes... (full context)
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
The narrator makes his way to the hospital every afternoon. There are various ways to go, but... (full context)
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
The doctor comes up to the narrator’s machine. He asks him what he did before the war, and what kind of sports... (full context)
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
In the machine next to the narrator is the major, whose hand has shrunk to the size of a baby’s. The major... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Three boys the same age as the narrator also go to the hospital every day to receive treatment. They are all from Milan,... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
...front line, having come straight from the military academy. They eventually do the reconstruction, the narrator, looking back years later, recalls, but it never looks quite right. Later the boy, who... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...though. It’s warm and comfortable, and the girls are patriotic. They are still patriotic, the narrator believes. (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
At first the other boys are polite about the narrator’s medals and ask what he did to earn them. He shows them the papers, which,... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Sometimes, after drinking cocktails at the café, the narrator imagines himself doing all the same things the other men did to earn their medals.... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
The major does not believe in bravery. He spends a lot of time teaching the narrator Italian grammar as they sit next to each other in their machines at the hospital.... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...major says the machines are an idiotic idea like any theory, then turns on the narrator, calling him a “stupid impossible disgrace” because he cannot learn his grammar. He then calls... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
The major asks the narrator what he plans to do when he returns home after the war, if it finishes.... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...hand around, and he storms out of the room into the massage treatment room. The narrator hears him ask the doctor if he can use the telephone. Later, the major returns... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
The doctor explains to the narrator that the major’s wife was very young, and he had delayed marrying her until his... (full context)