Course Hero Logo

In Our Time | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "In Our Time Study Guide." Course Hero. 5 Oct. 2017. Web. 31 May 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, October 5). In Our Time Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 31, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "In Our Time Study Guide." October 5, 2017. Accessed May 31, 2023.


Course Hero, "In Our Time Study Guide," October 5, 2017, accessed May 31, 2023,

In Our Time | Quotes


That was the only time in my life I got so I dreamed about things.

Narrator, On the Quai at Smyrna

The narrator witnessed the evacuation of refugees after the Greek defeat at Smyrna in the Greco-Turkish war of 1921–1922. He says there were "nice things floating around" in the harbor. These dead bodies reappear in the narrator's dreams, unlike all the other things he saw in war. He calls the dead bodies "nice things," but the dreams are his one admission he found the war horrifying.


He felt quite sure that he would never die.

Narrator, Indian Camp

The narrator uses dramatic irony to illuminate the innocence of youth. Nick feels sure he will never die, but readers know he will die, just like any other human being. The statement also hints Nick might die later in this book.


Scared sick looking at it.

Narrator, Chapter 2

The narrator describes the evacuation of refugees from Adrianople. A woman gives birth by the roadside, hidden behind a blanket held up by a young girl. The form of the sentence does not specify who is "scared sick" or what is the "it" that is scary. Perhaps the girl holding the blanket is frightened; perhaps it is the narrator. The birth scene becomes an unspeakable "it." This style emphasizes the feeling of fear.


We'd jammed an absolutely perfect barricade across the bridge. It was simply priceless.

Narrator, Chapter 4

The barricade is perfect because it is "too heavy to lift and you could shoot through it." It slows the Germans down long enough for the narrator's side to take aim and shoot them. The narrator focuses on the technical perfection of the obstacle rather than what he is doing—killing men.


'It's a symbol,' Bill said. 'Sure,' said Nick, 'but it isn't practical.'

Narrator, The Three-Day Blow

Bill and Nick are talking about a sword that lies between the two lovers in the novel Forest Lovers. The sword is supposed to keep the lovers apart in bed, guaranteeing their chastity. Nick points out the blade's edge would not pose any obstacle to the lovers with the sword lying flat on the bed. Nick's statement shows he isn't interested in the symbolic dimension. He is focused on realism, like Hemingway.


There was always a way out.

Narrator, The Three-Day Blow

Nick has just broken up with Marjorie. Talking to Bill, he feels gloomy and regretful about the decision. Then Bill suggests, "You might get back into it then." Nick is cheered by the thought, not just of getting back together with Marjorie, but of having all his choices remain open forever.


He had never been allowed to drive the family motor car.

Narrator, Soldier's Home

Harold Krebs wasn't allowed to drive his parents' car "before ... [he] went away to war." The contrast between submitting to driving restrictions and killing German soldiers shows how difficult it is for Krebs to fit back into his old life in his hometown.


He did not want any consequences ever again.

Narrator, Soldier's Home

Like Nick in "The Three-Day Blow," Krebs is young and would like his actions to be without consequences. Unlike Nick in that story, Krebs has already seen terrible consequences. Krebs's wish is completely unrealistic, showing the difficulty he has in adapting to post-war life.


In spite of Hungary, he believed altogether in the world revolution.

Narrator, The Revolutionist

The unnamed revolutionist had been subjected to "some bad things" in Hungary. He was perhaps tortured for his political beliefs. However, he remains committed to the cause of world revolution even though he has seen how people can behave. The narrator, an Italian communist observing him, is much less hopeful.


The declaration always set her off again.

Narrator, Mr. and Mrs. Elliot

When Mr. Elliot is courting women, he explains to them he has kept himself chaste. Most women lose interest in Mr. Elliot at that point, but Cornelia finds this idea exciting. The narrator makes Mr. Elliot's vow of chastity sound comical by making it an erotic game that "sets" Cornelia "off."


And the bull charged and Villalta charged and just for a moment they became one.

Narrator, Chapter 12

Combat and blood sports transform their confrontation with death into something beautiful.


Outside was the crowd looking in.

Joe, My Old Man

Joe is just a spectator in the sport of horse racing as he watches his father, the jockey. However, he feels like an insider, proud to be so close to his father. He doesn't realize his father is involved in shady dealings. Ultimately, Joe has also been on the outside looking in.


He felt he had left everything behind. ... It was all back of him.

Narrator, Big Two-Hearted River, Part I

Nick has just arrived in the burnt-out town of Seney, and he is looking at trout in the river. He has been wounded in war, but now he feels it is all behind him. He has left behind not only war but also "the need to think, the need to write, other needs." Like his earlier wish to live without ever making an irrevocable decision, now he wants to live without needs or memories or people. The enormity of what he wants to leave out shows he might still be feeling damaged by his war experiences.


He had made his camp. He was settled. Nothing could touch him.

Narrator, Big Two-Hearted River, Part I

As Nick settles in for his first night on his fishing trip, he reminds himself he has finished all his tasks. He takes pleasure in having completed everything: "There had been this to do [set up camp]. Now it was done." He feels finishing tasks can wall him off from the world. He has no involvement with people or his own needs, just camping tasks to cross off.


Nick did not like to fish with other men on the river. ... They spoiled it.

Narrator, Big Two-Hearted River, Part II

Nick has been considering how some fishermen are careless and touch the fish with their dry hands. This action damages the fish's protective coating, making the fish vulnerable to fungus. Nick thinks of the fungus-infected dead fish he had seen floating in a river on another fishing trip.

He then generalizes his disgust at those men to all men who are not "of your party," as when Nick went fishing with Hopkins and his other friends. After his war experiences, Nick wants to be alone.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about In Our Time? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!