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In Our Time | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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Course Hero. "In Our Time Study Guide." October 5, 2017. Accessed May 30, 2023.


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In Our Time | Out of Season | Summary



A drunken day laborer named Peduzzi takes a married couple fishing. They walk through town, heading for the fishing spot Peduzzi knows about. The wife at first walks behind them with the fishing rods to conceal the fact they are all going fishing because they don't have a fishing license. Peduzzi insists they stop at a place called "the Concordia" and buy marsala wine.

At the Concordia, the husband apologizes to the wife about an argument they had. "I'm sorry you feel so rotten, Tiny," the husband says. Peduzzi boasts they will not get in trouble for fishing. "Everybody in this town likes me," he assures them. He talks on and on, sometimes in an Italian dialect, sometimes in a German one.

The couple is not having fun. The wife berates the husband for sticking to this stupid idea of a fishing trip. "Of course you haven't got the guts to just go back," she says. In Italian, Peduzzi says it will be a half an hour until they reach the fishing spot, but the wife has had enough and leaves. Moments later, Peduzzi and the husband arrive at the spot. Peduzzi had meant the spot was good for a half hour of fishing, not a half hour away.

They have no lead weights for the fishing lines, so the husband says they can't go fishing in that case. Peduzzi is dismayed. The husband promises they will fish tomorrow at seven in the morning. The husband brings out the wine, and they drink together, brightening Peduzzi's mood: "He drank it all. The sun shone while he drank. It was wonderful. This was a great day, after all."

Peduzzi promises a great day of fishing and a feast. He asks for five lire for food and supplies, but the husband gives him four. Peduzzi thinks he could live this way from now on, getting money from tourists rather than laboring in a garden. "Life was opening out," Peduzzi thinks.

As they head back to town, the husband starts backpedaling on his promise to go fishing the next day. "I may not be going," he says, "very probably not." He promises to leave word at the hotel.


It is hard to imagine this middle-class couple acting this way in the United States. At home, they would probably not trot along behind a drunkard, doing whatever he says. However, they are in a foreign country, and their attitude is "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." This attitude makes them passive. They carry on with the fishing outing even though neither of them enjoys it. As the wife points out, the husband "[hasn't] got the guts to just go back."

The couple is clearly not enjoying their day. Perhaps they are not enjoying Italy, or being married. The husband uses an affectionate nickname, but he gives a kind of non-apology apology: "I'm sorry you feel so rotten, Tiny." They are trying to make up while still carrying on the argument.

Peduzzi and the husband's social roles are reversed. The man from the lowest social class is in charge. The narrator comments on the way this restructuring goes to Peduzzi's head. When Peduzzi thanks the husband for giving him money, his says it "in the tone of one member of the Carleton Club accepting the Morning Post from another."

Peduzzi thinks this situation will last. With a drunk person's optimism, he thinks "life was opening out." He thinks he can sponge off tourists for a living. The husband, however, reasserts his independence. When he says he will "leave word at the hotel," the word will clearly be "no."

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