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In Our Time | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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In Our Time | Chapter 13 | Summary



The first-person narrator hears music coming from down the street. He looks in that direction and sees Luis, drunk and dancing in the street. Maera decides the narrator should go get Luis.

The narrator tries to persuade Luis to stop dancing and calm down. "For Christ's sake you've got bulls this afternoon," he says. Luis crouches, waiting for the music to start. When it starts again, he dances like crazy. The narrator grabs him, but Luis says, "Oh leave me alone. You're not my father."

Maera asks who will kill Luis's bull after he "gets a cogida." (Cogida is a bullfighting term. It means the bull tosses the bullfighter into the air with its horns.) The narrator answers Maera: "We, I suppose." Then Maera starts babbling a bit: "We kills the savages' bulls ... We kill them. We kill them all right. Yes. Yes."


As in "Cross-Country Snow," this vignette contrasts freedom with responsibility. Luis wants to be free to drink and dance in the streets. However, he has responsibilities as a matador. Maera upholds the responsibilities of the bullfight as does Luis. Somewhat vengefully, Maera imagines Luis dead. Already they are burdened with the responsibility of dragging Luis out of the gutter and into the ring. Soon they might be burdened with having to kill Luis's bulls for him. At some level, Luis also feels a sense of responsibility, which he shows in what he says to Maera: "Oh leave me alone. You're not my father." Only someone who feels he is not acting like an adult can say this. Like a child, Luis is not yet in charge of himself.

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