Photographs makes a brief appearance at the end of the story and symbolize meaningless wartime propaganda. While undergoing treatment at a hospital in Milan, Italy, the doctor shows the major photographs of other injuries that the machines have (allegedly) already healed—injuries that are similar to the major’s own withered hand. However, the doctor’s attempt to convince the major that he can make a successful recovery fall flat, reflecting Hemingway’s own scornful view of wartime propaganda. The major politely humors the doctor’s optimism, but remains openly skeptical. The narrator also sees through the doctor’s pretense, as he notes he and the other officers were “the first to use the machines,” and so doubts the photographs’ authenticity. In the last line of the story, after the major’s young wife has died, the narrator says the photographs (now hanging on the wall) “did not make much difference to the major because he only looked out of the window.” Ultimately, the doctor’s efforts to motivate the major fail because they are irrelevant to the root cause of his suffering, a direct critique of misguided wartime propaganda.
Photographs Quotes in In Another Country
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.