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In Our Time | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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In Our Time | Chapter 5 | Summary



The vignette describes the execution by firing squad: "They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning." The narrator adds that the ministers were shot against the wall of a hospital. The day is cold and rainy. One minister is ill and cannot stand up, so he is shot sitting down in a puddle of water.


The vignette leaves much unexplained. Who are the executioners, the mysterious "they" of the first sentence? Of what government were the six ministers a part? This vignette demonstrates the beauty of Hemingway's fragments in In Our Time. Hemingway's dark humor shows through in the description of one minister having been shot while sitting in a puddle. The lack of complete explanation makes the vignette seem like a letter from an unknown world, sparking intrigue. Still, the book's title, In Our Time, makes clear that this world is still the readers' world. In Our Time tells wartime experiences from the perspective of individuals; it gives short fragments of the events of war.

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