Nick Adams is the one character who continually reappears throughout In Our Time. In general he embodies the endless possibility of youth, and he has trouble with the complicated nature of relationships. As a small boy in "Indian Camp," he relies on his father to inform him about the traumatic scene he witnesses, but he still has his own little world where he feels as if he will live forever. In "The End of Something" Nick rejects the safety and comfort of his girlfriend Marjorie, but he feels confusion and sadness from it. This same confusion over a relationship appears in "The Three-Day Blow." In this story his sadness over the end of his relationship disappears when Bill suggests that there is still the danger of him getting back together with her, which also makes Nick feel as if nothing is final or absolute. In "The Battler" Nick is a traveler who is alone in the world. In "Cross-Country Snow," Nick wrestles with fears of fatherhood and aging. When his friend George says, "Maybe we'll never go skiing again," he replies with "We've got to." Yet he also says, "There isn't any good in promising." Nick has grown older here, but he retains some of the youthful optimism of his youth, even if he now understands the uncertainty inherent in the future. In the final two chapters, Nick returns as the sole character. He returns to the land, and Hemingway slows the narrative to show the peace Nick finds in his isolation from society. In this isolation Nick hunts, but he also shows great concern and tenderness towards nature.
Nick Adams's father is also referred to as the doctor. In "Indian Camp" he helps deliver a baby and explains to Nick about childbirth and about death. In "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife" he nearly gets into a fight with several Indians whom he has hired to cut firewood. He controls his anger by returning to his house and cleaning his gun, and his wife shows concern about how he behaved towards Dick Boulton. He leaves the house and goes off with Nick. In "The Three-Day Blow" Nick talks about his father and admits that he has missed a lot in his life.
Krebs is the main character in "Soldier's Home." He struggles in rejoining society after returning from WWI. He wants a smooth life without complications, which means he does not want a job. His mother worries very much about him, and his sisters still see him as a hero, but overall people are not interested in hearing his stories. He does not know how to deal with the women who have grown up since he left for the war. He does not care to make an effort to find a girl, although he would like one. His life attitude is to avoid anything that might have consequences.
Bill is Nick's friend in "The Three-Day Blow." He calls Nick "Wemedge" and urges them to get drunk. Bill thinks that Nick has done an excellent thing by getting rid of Marjorie and avoiding marriage. He clearly values independence.
George is Nick's friend in "Cross-Country Snow." He wonders whether he and Nick will ever go skiing together again.
Hubert Elliot is a poet and scholar who keeps himself pure until he marries. He goes to Europe with his wife Cornelia. His friends eventually leave him for another, younger, richer poet, but he finds happiness in the chateau he rents.
Mrs. Elliot was born to an old Southern family. She works in a Boston tea shop and meets Hubert while working in it. They are friends before they become lovers. She also is a virgin until marriage. She wants desperately to have a baby but never does. After their marriage she cries often, and she ages rapidly. She has trouble traveling by boat. Her friend from the tea shop arrives in Europe at her request and takes over the job of copying Mr. Elliot's manuscripts. She also finds happiness at the Chateau.
Peduzzi is a former soldier in "Out of Season" who earns four lire by gardening. Then he gets drunk and offers his services as a fishing guide. He tends to make a fool of himself thorugh the course of the day, but the young gentleman he works for is generous and gives him money for supplies that he probably will never need.
Luz is a nurse in "A Very Short Story." She falls in love with a soldier who is injured. When he returns to the front she misses him and sends him many letters. They agree to get married once the war is over and he has gotten a job in New York. She will not return to America with him until he has settled. Anyway, she falls in love with an Italian and never hears from the American soldier again.
Marjorie is Nick's girlfriend in "An End of Something." She fishes for trout with him, but she becomes upset when he does not want to be in a relationship with her. According to Bill she tells others that they are engaged.
Helen is briefly mentioned in "Cross-country Snow." She is carrying Nick's baby.
Dick is an Indian who owes Nick's father money. When the doctor hires him to cut firewood for him, he accuses the doctor of stealing.
An overweight Indian who comes along with Dick Boulton.
Dick Boulton's son.
A negro in "The Battler" who takes care of the former prizefighter Ad Francis. He met Ad in jail and enjoys traveling the countryside with him. He is very kind and generous to Nick.
A former prizefighter who has gone crazy from being in too many fights. Initially he is friendly to Nick, but when he asks for a knife and does not receive it, he tries to hurt Nick. Bugs knocks him out just in time. When he was still fighting he married his manager, who many people claimed was his sister, and this caused a public scandal. She left him, although she still sends money.
The American Couple stay in a hotel in "Cat in the Rain." The wife likes the hotel owner, and she seems unhappy with her life. She wishes for a kitty, for her own silverware, and new clothes. She likes the way the hotel owner makes her feel important, something her husband does not do. He tells her to shut up when she annoys him. He lies in bed and reads the entire time.
Young gentleman and his wife
This couple in "Out of Season" is in the middle of a disagreement. The husband calls his wife Tiny. She is clearly unhappy with more than just the fishing expedition, and the gentleman seems resigned to her unhappiness.
Joe is the boy in "My Old Man." He loves his father and remembers the days when he worked as a jockey. He loves horseracing and horses, but his exhilaration for the sport is subdued when his father takes part in a betting scam. When his father dies he is left with nothing.
Joe's father is a jockey in "My Old Man." He loves his son very much and takes his son everywhere with him. He tells him pretty much everything, too. When they leave Italy for Paris things start to go bad, and he eventually makes a lot of money in a betting scam. He uses this money to buy his own horse, but he soon dies in a race when he falls off the horse. He has a reputation as a crook.
Villalta is a strong Matador who skillfully kills a bull in the Chapter XII vignette.
Maera appears in the Chapter XIII and XIV vignettes. He is killed by a bull.
Boyle and Drevitts
Two policemen who crash into two Hungarian thieves and kill them.
In Our Time Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for In Our Time is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Hemingway expands (think the word constellation as in something large) on the main conflicts that all men experience regardless of time and regardless of place. Everyone worries about how they fit into the world (cosmos); this statement is saying...
"Cat In the Rain" examines another strained and unhappy marriage. The American couple stays at a hotel that faces a war monument, and once again it rains. The rain suggests dreariness. The wife looks out the window and sees a cat. She decides to...