In Our Time

In Our Time Summary and Analysis of Chapter III


This vignette is a first-person narrative set in the garden at Mons. The narrator describes watching a German climb over the wall; they shoot him as he puts his legs over. They then shoot three more.

"The End of Something"

The narrator describes the lumbering town of Hortons Bay. Once all the trees were used up, the town began to decline. It slowly became deserted. The narrator then tells us that just ten years after the start of this decline, only the foundations of the mill remain. Nick and Marjorie are fishing in a rowboat along the shore, and they see these foundations. Nick and Marjorie observe the ruins and discuss the town's past.

The narrator follows their discussion of fishing. It is clear they both love to fish and are very experienced at it. After fishing, they make a fire with driftwood, and Marjorie senses that something is wrong with Nick. They sit on a blanket near the fire, and Marjorie prepares food from a basket. They eat in silence, although Nick claims not to be hungry. Marjorie seems very happy, while something bothers Nick. She complains and tells him not to be in a bad mood.

She continues to ask what the matter is until finally he tells her that their relationship is not fun anymore. He says love is not fun anymore. She takes the boat and leaves, and afterward Nick lies by the fire for a long time. Bill arrives and briefly asks what happened, but Nick tells him to go away.


The Vignette describes a war scene where the narrator and his fellow soldiers are killing Germans. The killing in this scene is chilling in its matter-of-fact manner of narration, especially the last two sentences: "We shot them. They all came just like that." Killing is turned into a routine. The narrator describes the first soldier they shot and killed, and then the last two sentences draw attention to how many individuals are lost in war. It is common to note that soldiers often lose their individuality in the military and especially in war.

"The End of Something" primarily deals with what seems to be the ending stage of the relationship between Marjorie and Nick. As Nick and Marjorie observe the ruins of the lumbering town's mill while they fish for trout together, it seems that the desolation and loss of this old town foreshadow the end of their relationship.

When Nick tells Marjorie that their relationship is no longer any fun, the scene captures Nick's unhappiness contrasted against Marjorie's happiness. Their dialogue reveals numerous problems in their relationship, but while the problems do not seem to actively bother Marjorie, they have a profound effect on Nick. After he tells her the relationship is over, she is the one who gets up and leaves. Nick sits for a long time by himself, and he notably wants even less human contact (despite fishing alone except for Marjorie and spending so much time alone before Bill arrives). He does not even want to talk to Bill.

The scene has a certain understated quality. On the surface there is nothing wrong, but Hemingway leaves many unanswered questions, and these omissions suggest the complex nature of the relationship. Hemingway uses this technique throughout the book to treat war, violence, and personal relationships. He often has more to say about these indirectly, as if by omitting all the important information he suggests that these are things in life that are too complicated by emotions to truly describe in words.