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In Our Time | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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In Our Time | Plot Summary



The Quai at Smyrna

An unnamed narrator relates the anecdotes told by an officer or soldier dealing with civilians on the dock in Smyrna, Greece, during a war with Turkey. The civilians gathered on the dock are about to depart as refugees. The officer discusses what he saw civilians do in this emergency situation.

Chapter 1

A former corporal recalls a drunken military march toward Champagne, France. The merry drunkenness contrasts with the danger of being close to the war front.

Indian Camp

A boy named Nick and his father travel in a rowboat to a nearby "Indian camp." The father, a doctor, surgically helps a Native American woman deliver a baby after two days in labor. They then discover the father of her baby has cut his own throat and is dead.

Chapter 2

A narrator describes the evacuation of the city of Adrianople, near Turkey's borders with Greece and Bulgaria. The road is thronged with refugees fleeing war.

The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife

Some logs have washed ashore on the lakefront property of Nick's father, who hires some Native Americans to cut the timber. One of the Native Americans, Dick Boulton, chides Nick's father for stealing the logs, and Nick's father loses his temper.

Chapter 3

An officer or soldier describes shooting German soldiers as they climb over a garden wall.

The End of Something

Nick and Marjorie go canoeing near Hortons Bay, a former lumber town. Nick declares himself dissatisfied and breaks up with Marjorie. She canoes away alone. Nick's friend Bill emerges from the woods and talks to Nick.

Chapter 4

An officer or soldier describes "an absolutely perfect barricade," an iron gate his forces put on a bridge. The barricade has slowed the Germans down, and the open ironwork allows the man's forces to shoot the Germans through it.

The Three-Day Blow

Nick and Bill decide to get drunk at Bill's house. Bill congratulates Nick on getting rid of Marjorie, but Nick feels regretful. Nick considers possibly getting Marjorie back, which cheers him up.

Chapter 5

An unnamed narrator describes how "they shot the six cabinet ministers at half past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital." One of the ministers cannot stand up. In the end, he is shot seated.

The Battler

A brakeman tosses Nick off a train Nick had hitched a ride on. Along the tracks, Nick comes upon two hobos. One of them, an ex-boxer named Adolph, gets angry at Nick and threatens to beat him. The other hobo knocks Adolph unconscious to protect Nick.

Chapter 6

Nick has been wounded in battle and is awaiting evacuation. He talks to another wounded man named Rinaldi.

A Very Short Story

An unnamed wounded soldier recovers in a hospital in Padua, Italy. He has a love affair with a nurse named Luz.

Chapter 7

An unnamed soldier in a trench prays to Jesus during a battle. He survives but breaks his promise to Jesus.

Soldier's Home

A young veteran named Harold Krebs has trouble adjusting to peacetime life in Oklahoma. He finds his small town confining.

Chapter 8

In an American city, two policemen, Drevitts and Boyle, encounter two Hungarian men committing theft. Boyle shoots them dead while Drevitts objects. Boyle justifies his act by saying the two men were "wops."

The Revolutionist

Supported by fellow communists, a Hungarian communist travels to Switzerland via Italy without a train ticket or money. In Italy he spends a few days in the company of an older, more cynical communist. The Hungarian remains enthusiastic despite the cynicism but is jailed in Switzerland.

Chapter 9

Three matadors fight in a bullfight in Spain. The first two are incompetent, and the bulls gore them. The third matador has to kill his own bull and the bulls of the other two.

Mr. and Mrs. Elliot

An awkward young man marries a virginal middle-aged woman. They set sail for Europe, where they acquire a third member of their household, a girlfriend of the woman.

Chapter 10

In a bullfight, the picador's, or lancer's, horse has been gored. The horse's entrails hang out of the wound, but the men in the ring hit the horse, forcing it to canter.

Cat in the Rain

At a seaside resort in Italy, a husband and wife have a grumpy day indoors while it rains. The wife glimpses a cat in the rain and goes outside to retrieve it. She doesn't find the cat, but later on a hotel maid brings it to her.

Chapter 11

At a bullfight, the bullfighter performs badly, putting the crowd in an ugly mood. His fight is long and boring. Things pick up for the crowd when a boy cuts off the bullfighter's pigtail and waves it around. The humiliated bullfighter slinks away and gets drunk.

Out of Season

A drunken day-laborer in Italy takes a husband and wife on an illegal, unlicensed fishing trip. Along the way he has the couple stop to buy him wine. The wife leaves in disgust, and after drinking some wine, the husband also leaves.

Chapter 12

The narrator describes the bullfight by a matador named Villalta. Matador and bull become one in their fierce combat; Villalta is victorious.

Cross-Country Snow

Nick Adams and an old friend, George, ski in Europe. George wishes they could ski-bum all over Europe. Nick's wife is pregnant, and they plan to return to the United States for the birth. The two friends contemplate freedom and responsibility.

Chapter 13

A matador named Luis does some day-drinking and ends up dancing in the street. His fellow matadors, Maera and another, try to get him to stop. They complain they will have to kill his bull when the bull tosses him around on its horns.

My Old Man

Joe is proud of "my old man," his father, a jockey who rides racehorses in Italy. After winning big on a fixed race, the father moves himself and Joe to Paris. In Paris Joe's father is killed in a steeplechase, and a spectator remarks he had it coming after being such a cheater.

Chapter 14

The bullfighter Maera is gored. A doctor is called away from where he has been treating injured horses. Maera's perceptions become distorted as he dies of his wounds.

Big Two-Hearted River, Part I

Nick Adams returns from the war. He gets off the train at the town of Seney, which has burned down completely. Nick sets off for a fishing trip, glad to be back from war.

Chapter 15

A man named Sam Cardinella is executed by hanging. The affair is ugly and messy. Sam loses control of his bowels, and the guards decide to strap him into a chair for the hanging. A priest offers some words of comfort.

Big Two-Hearted River, Part II

Nick wakes up at his fishing camp, just as happy as he was the day before. He goes fishing and catches two trout. He goes to sleep contented.


A first-person narrator describes a meeting with the King of Greece. There has been a coup and the king is under house arrest, but he is in good spirits and jokes about hoping not to be shot.

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