On the Quai

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"On the Quai at Smyrna"

As a collection of stories that take the reader through the confusing and disorienting journey of America soldiers in World War I, the introduction, “On the Quai at Smyrna,” is no exception. Hemmingway begins his introduction without any explanation of who is reminiscing and provides only details to create an image in the reader’s mind. Hemmingway creates no context for which to frame the events, and by doing this, Hemmingway throws the reader into the story, not unlike the soldiers who were thrown into a war. Throughout the introduction Hemmingway creates an image of suffering and despair, however the narrator is never introduced. Using this confusing and disturbing prose as an introduction, Hemmingway sets the reader up for the perplexing and horrible stories that the soldiers are telling throughout In Our Time. “On the Quai at Smyrna” describes a world where gruesome stories are so commonplace that a telling is received with less shock and awe and more indifference. Hemmingway sets up the story by explaining, “he said” (Hemmingway) as a frame. There is no more background given; no other details are displayed to help the reader understand the situation. The reader has to work through what “he said” to find out the setting, the characters, and the entire situation. This use of framing is atypical and causes the reader pause when relating to the protagonist. By structuring the story this way, Hemmingway draws the readers’ attention to the fact that it is not a first person account of the war, but of someone’s retelling. The story is told by the officer, it seems, to someone who has had a similar experience with the war and would understand. The story includes obscure references and specific things of which a reader might not have sense. The anonymous narrator is a British officer at Smyrna and is relaying his stories to possibly an old war friend saying, "You remember the harbor," (Hemmingway) leading the reader to believe these...
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