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THE CHAUFFEURS OF MADRID

The Chauffeurs of Madrid holds a prominent place among Hemingway’s stories. The author uses direct descriptions of the characters very seldom (the only exceptions may be "Fifty Grand” and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”). He prefers to give dialogs, to introduce the discourse of the characters, their emotions and views are mainly represented through their actions or reminiscences; what is more, every story abounds with symbols and symbolic images. But this one is somewhat a lapse from the principles. However, this deviation turned out to be an advantage as it delineates four surpassing sketches which are of great interest for readers to know about Spanish nation. Those were four chauffeurs sent to help a correspondent in Madrid and at the front.

The first one, Tomas, is depicted as a very tall, unattractive dwarf with some front teeth missing. This man ‘of the noblest sentiments and the finest intentions’ couldn’t start the car every morning, that is why he was soon sent back, substituted with ‘the bravest chauffeur in the whole department’. After he had left for Valencia with the car and the petrol, he was put into prison. Then they got David, an absolutely brave Anarchist who was actually fascinated with the sound of bombardment and expressed his astonishment with the help of the foulest language in the world. But as a chauffeur he was nothing – he couldn’t drive a car. But the point of the story, as the writer pus it, is Hipolito, a dutiful, brave former soldier who looked more like a piece of granite block. In fact, he represented the best people of that time, he was a specimen of courage, valor and fortitude. "Not romantic”, "not afraid to die”, "as solid as a rock” – these are the epithets endowed to the character. "You can bet on Franco, or Mussolini, or Hitler, if you want. But my money goes on Hipolito”, says Hemingway and he is right like no one else.

(by MissJane)


In many respects, the story "The Chauffeurs of Madrid” resembles "The old man on the bridge”. In both stories Hemingway uses brief, entirely focused exchanges between the narrator and these individuals to sketch their characters and to intensify human drama in which they and the narrator are involved. 

In effect, these two stories form mirror images of each other. Both use the character and the situation of an individual to represent the larger realities of the war and the fate of many others like them.

The story ends with a little lesson in integrity. As the narrator is leaving Madrid, he tries to give Hipolito some money, but the chauffeur refuses. "I don’t want anything from you”, he says, and when the narrator tries to insist on at least giving him something for his family, Hipolito still says no. "Listen, we had a good time, didn’t we?” he asks rhetorically…

(by Luck)


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