Butterfly and the Tank: Hemingway in Spain

An overview of Ernest Hemingway’s short story Butterfly and the Tank.

The paper looks at how in the short story The Butterfly and the Tank, Ernest Hemingway uses a nameless narrator to recount a shooting incident in a bar in Spain, during its civil war in the thirties. The paper analyzes how through the telling of this simple story, Hemingway creates a metaphor for how he saw the Civil War in Spain and how he perceived his participation in the war.
As the story begins, it is cold and wet outside. The narrator is in a bar and while sitting there, a man comes in with a flint gun, which is a harmless water pistol. He is happy and in a teasing mood and wants to lighten the mood of the people in the bar. This is accomplished by him shooting the flint gun at a passing waiter. The narrator is sitting with another American woman and a German at a table. The man shoots the flint gun again at another waiter to feed on the laughter of the group. The more the people in the bar laugh, the more the second waiter gets indignant and repeatedly says You have no right to treat me this way. Then suddenly a group of men in suits get up from the table and take the man with the flint gun out of the bar that they are in and beat him severely.