Narrator and point of view

The short story “A Very Short Story” by Ernest Hemingway is told by a third-person narrator.

The story is told mostly from the soldier’s perspective. For instance, we know how he feels about the conflict between him and Luz, but we do not how she feels about it: “When they had to say good-bye, in the station at Milan, they kissed good-bye, but were not finished with the quarrel. He felt sick about saying good-bye like that” (ll. 20-22). 

However, the story also offers information which the soldier has no way of knowing, which proves that the narrator is omniscient. One example is the information that Luz “had never known Italians before” (l. 25) sleeping with the major. It is worth noting at this point that despite the narrative briefly shifting to Luz’s point of view, we get no insight into her thoughts and feelings beyond what she writes in the letter to the soldier. We can only guess at the reason why she cheats on the soldier or why she decides to choose the major over him.

The narrator, although omniscient, deliberately withholds some information from the reader. For instance, we do not know the soldier’s reaction upon reading the letter from Luz. However, since he does not answer her letter, we can guess that he feels hurt and heartbroken. This is also implied by his brief relationship with the sales girl. (ll. 30-32).



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