At first glance unusually normal, at second glance unusually striking, the title "A Very Short Story" reveals Hemingway's perception of a perhaps unforgotten war experience. Man went to war. He met woman. They spent many nights together. They considered marriage. He went home without her. She moved on. He moved on. The end. The story, the relation of events, is indeed short. This is not eternal spiritual love; instead, this is the animalistic, barbaric sexual act- sex and love for the sole purpose and convenience of sex itself. Then it is over.
The story begins on "ONE HOT evening in Padua" (Hemingway, 65), "hot" relating to passionate feelings, and "evening" as the perfect time for an affair. The reader can deduct from the reference to Padua, a city in northeast Italy, that perhaps the character is at war, and in fact, this is confirmed in the fourth paragraph with a reference of an "armistice" (65). The main character himself is referred to as "he", though, knowing the author's biographical history, and presence in the war, "Hemingway" is a presumable substitution. "They" (65), his war buddies, "carried him up onto the roof", they carried him because he was injured, but also, as "the others went down and took the bottles with them", very likely intoxicated. There, he and the female figure, "Luz" meet, she "sat on the bed", and "was cool and fresh in the hot night". Immediately, alcohol, guy and girl, a rather convenient bed, and a "hot" night left alone on the rooftop combine, forming a passionate love affair.
So, who is this Luz? Well, apparently, as she was "on night duty" (65), and she was the one who "prepared him for the operating table", she is a...
... middle of paper ...
...ncoln Park." (66).
Man went to war. He met woman. They spent many nights together. They considered marriage. He went home without her. She moved on. He moved on. The end.
It is a short story, and it is a simple one. Simple attraction of the opposite sexes. Simple sex. Simple break up. Simple recovery. Without the talk of marriage, it resembles any animal mating ritual on the Discovery Channel.
Interesting that the story ends with the onslaught of gonorrhea, as the cycle is continued, and thus, the simple recovery transforms magically to painful consequences. Perhaps, in Hemingway's own life, the simple recovery of losing a mistress after the war transforms and somehow contributes partly to his own suicide many years later.
Hemingway, Ernest. "A Very Short Story." In Our Time. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1925.
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