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In Our Time | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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In Our Time | Chapter 11 | Summary



A crowd of bullfight enthusiasts watches a bullfight. The fight has been long and the torero, or main bullfighter, has performed badly. Therefore, "the bull [is] too tired from so much bad sticking." The bull lies down in the ring. A cuadrilla, or assistant to the torero, kills the bull by stabbing it with a puntillo, or dagger. A child from the crowd cuts off the torero's ponytail and waves it to the cheering crowd. Later, the narrator sees the torero, drunk at a café. "I am not a really a good bullfighter," the torero admits.


The drunken torero is right. He is not a good bullfighter, and the crowd knows it. A good bullfight does not drag on and on. In a good bullfight, the bull does not lie down in the ring. In a good bullfight, the torero kills the bull. In this fight, that task is left to the cuadrilla. Since the crowd is denied the satisfaction of a good kill, they take the next best thing. They cheer at the torero's humiliation. Only the crowd comes out of this story happy. They came to see a defeat, and that is what they watched.

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