In Another Country

by

Ernest Hemingway

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Machines Symbol Analysis

Machines Symbol Icon

“In Another Country” takes place during World War I in Italy, where the narrator receives hospital treatment alongside other battle-scarred officers. The narrator describes how they are treated in machines “that were to make so much difference,” his ironic tone revealing the soldiers’ disbelief their injuries can ever be healed. Through their ineffective treatment, the machines represent early 20th-century society’s lack of appropriate methods to heal the officers’ war wounds, both physical and psychological. The machines fail to bend the narrator’s knee, for instance, and flap the major’s shrunken hand about almost comically. The wounded men’s lack of progress chips away at any latent faith in the machines to help them; the narrator notes, “There was a time when none of us believed in the machines, and one day the major said it was all nonsense.” Beyond being ineffective at treating physical injuries, the machines do nothing at all to address the officers’ emotional suffering. The doctor’s insistent faith in the power of the machines feels especially misguided given the soldiers’ clear psychological turmoil. They have become “detached” after experiencing the horrors of battle, and the narrator notes “there was nothing that held us together except that we met every afternoon at the hospital.” It is the communal activity and daily routine that keep the men going, rather than trust in the system, as embodied in the machines, to restore them.

Machines Quotes in In Another Country

The In Another Country quotes below all refer to the symbol of Machines. 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

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:

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:

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:
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Machines Symbol Timeline in In Another Country

The timeline below shows where the symbol Machines 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
...others. They are all very polite to and interested in one another and sit in machines that are meant to make a big difference. (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 he... (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... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
...and want to be a lawyer, painter, and soldier, respectively. After they finish with the machines they walk together to the Café Cova next to the Scala. They can take the... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...time teaching the narrator Italian grammar as they sit next to each other in their machines at the hospital. He compliments the narrator on his Italian. Though the narrator says he... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...very regularly—in fact, he never misses a day even though he doesn’t believe in the machines. At one point none of the men believe in the machines, and the major even... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Loss, War, and Trauma Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
The major calls for an attendant to turn off the machine, which is still bashing his hand around, and he storms out of the room into... (full context)