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In Our Time | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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In Our Time | Chapter 12 | Summary



An unnamed narrator describes the bullfighting style of a torero named Villalta, elaborating on Villalta's skill with the cape and the sword and then the bull's fury: "The bull looking at him straight in front, hating." Bull and matador charge each other, "and just for a moment they became one," says the narrator. The moment ends when "Villalta became one with the bull and then it was over." The bull's legs buckle as it dies.


The vignette describes a moment in which the torero and the toro become one while simultaneously showing their differences. Villalta is described as "standing straight," with his "his legs tight together" and his "his feet firm." The bull's legs "cave" as he dies, and Villalta is victorious over the bull.

Hemingway uses synesthesia in this vignette. Synesthesia refers to receiving sense impressions with a different sense, like hearing colors. As Villalta waves to the crowd, the narrator refers to "the bull roaring blood." Typically a person might hear the bull roaring and see its blood pouring out. The narrator describes the scene so that Villalta perceives the sight of blood as a sound. This synesthesia gives the impression Villalta is in some kind of altered state, high on his victory. His mood is similar to the doctor's in the first story, "Indian Camp." There, Hemingway wrote the doctor felt "exalted and talkative as football players are in the dressing room after a game."

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