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On the Quai at Smyrna

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by

Nico B.-W.

on 15 January 2014

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Transcript of On the Quai at Smyrna

On the Quai at Smyrna
Historical context
The great fire of Smyrna
One of world's most richest, cosmopolitan and ethically diverse metropolises
Armenian + Greek + Jewish
End of Greco-Turkish war
Turk soldiers rampage city
-Mass murder
-Pillaging
-City in flames
-Thousands crowd in water
~ 21 International battleships present
~100, 000 perished
Context
LIFE
THEME

Broken Cycles
Circle of life is broken

Birth and Death
Usually, it starts with mother babies growing up adulthood
mother x2
-Babies are sign of BIRTH and LIFE
- Give hope for future
But dead babies= broken cycle


What is the significance of the
women's refusal to give up the babies?
TONE
- 1st story of Hemingway's compilation
"In Our Time"
- Never establishes characters or settings
= confusing
-Readers only given a series of memories and
impressions
- Overall tone of story
Cynical/mocking, deceitful
Narrator has twisted mind
“Great friends we were”
– even though they weren’t friends
“The Greeks were nice chaps too”
– even though they killed their extra animals
“It was all a pleasant business”
– the dying of the women and babies


Why did Hemingway use this tone (cynical/sarcastic) to write this story?
Mustafa Kemal
Babies represent hope, if they give them up, there is no more hope.
SYMBOL
Babies
- Hemingway = dark writer with contradicting ideas
-Bleakness, lack of hope, no future, no life
War, death, terror
BUT
- Symbol of babies as life
THEME
Nationality/Identity
-Story takes place during WWI
- Turks often switched sides
- Identity = important
What is the significance of the lack of identification at the beginning of the story?
-Creates an ambiguous setting
- Adds to lack of personal connection with characters
AMBIGUITY: AS A WRITING STYLES
- war had a strong effect on soldiers emotions and minds
- Hemingway uses ambiguity to demonstrate how the soldiers entered a confusing situation
Shows how war disturbed soldier's peaceful memories of home as well
- First story of compilation attempts to confuse readers as much as the characters are confused
Example:
- "How they screamed every night at midnight"
"They" is very generalized
"One man's death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic" - Stalin
SYMBOL
Baggage Animals
-Hemingway sets mood by introducing story at midnight (darkness)
- Death in darkness
-"They'd always pick out the darkest place in the hold to have them"
- Primal Instincts
War: Mans natural instinct to fight and hung
Procreating: Human's natural tendency to reproduce

-Search light and the shade cast over by the fort

- "We were in the harbor and they were all on the pier and at midnight they started screaming. We used to turn the searchlight on them to quiet them"

• This shows the peoples despair when they are in the dark, signified by the screaming at midnight
• When the light is put on them they become silent, they become hopeful and are thinking of life

What is the significance of “they’d always pick out the darkest place in the hold to have them”?
What is the significance of soldiers using the searchlight?
What is the significance of the baggage animals getting their legs broken?
- Sacrifices of war
- General people of working class who died because of
political disputes
LIGHT AND DARK IMAGERY
Light and Dark Imagery: Parallel to hope and despair
WATER
-Pier, harbor, sea: Death
-Irony: Water normally associate with life
-Reinforces theme of broken cycles
-Many attempt to escape fire of Smyrna by
jumping into water (most drowned)
- Dead babies = water
FIRE
- Main source of destruction
Bomb + shell casings

- Traditionally fire + water = Duality/dichotomy
- In the fire of Smyrna both connote death
Turks = Fire
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