Ernest Hemingway Short Stories

Here is a selection of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories. I will continue to add to this page as I read more.

If you’re interested in a collection, The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway is the one to go with. It has all of his previously published stories as well as seven new to this edition.

The stories are arranged in alphabetical order of the first word of the title, excluding “A”, “An”, or “The”.

After the Storm 

The narrator gets into a physical altercation. He’s being choked. He manages to pull his knife and cut his way out. He leaves to avoid any repercussions. He takes a skiff out to sea. There’s been a storm, which has wrecked a cruise ship. He decides to plunder its riches.

Read “After the Storm”

An Alpine Idyll 

Nick and John  have come down the mountain after a ski trip. They pass a peasant’s funeral on their way into town. They stayed skiing too long. The sun spoiled the snow during the day. They stop at an inn for a drink, and to catch up on their mail. They hear the story of the funeral.

Read “An Alpine Idyll”

Banal Story

A man eats oranges; more significant events occur in other parts of the world. He reads from The Forum, a magazine for intellectuals.

Read “Banal Story”

The Battler

Nick recovers after being thrown off a train. He has a sore eye, some scrapes and a torn pant leg. While following the track on foot to the next town, he sees a fire off to the side. He approaches it cautiously. He steps into the firelight and greets the man sitting beside it.

“Nick waited behind the tree and watched. The man looked to be alone. He was sitting there with his head in his hands looking at the fire. Nick stepped out and walked into the firelight.”

Big Two-Hearted River 

Nick Adams is back in Seney after experiencing something that has damaged him psychologically. He finds the outside soothing. He spends time at a river, fishing, and camps out.

Cat in the Rain

An American couple is on vacation in Italy. The wife looks out the window at the rain and sees a cat huddled under a table. She wants to go down and take it in out of the rain.

Read “Cat in the Rain”

A Clean Well-Lighted Place 

An old man sits alone in a café and drinks, as is his custom. Two waiters talk about the man’s life and wish he would go home.

Read “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

Cross-Country Snow

Nick and George are skiing in Switzerland. When the lift reaches its peak, Nick jumps out; George is already on the slopes. They get stopped by some soft snow. They talk about skiing. At the end of the trail they walk to an inn for a drink.

A Day’s Wait 

A young boy has a temperature of a hundred and two. The doctor leaves three different pills and a schedule for taking them. His father attends to him while he stays in bed.

“I sat at the foot of the bed and read to myself while I waited for it to be time to give another capsule. It would have been natural for him to go to sleep, but when I looked up he was looking at the foot of the bed, looking very strangely.”

Read “A Day’s Wait”

The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife 

The doctor hires some local Indian men to cut up a stray log for him. They argue when one of the men says the log is stolen.

Read “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife”

The End of Something

Nick and Marjorie row along the shore where the lumber mill used to be. They head across the bay. They’re fishing for trout but not getting any bites. They go ashore and continue fishing from there.

Read “The End of Something”

Fathers and Sons

Nick Adams drives home after a hunting trip with his son. He remembers his time hunting as a boy. His father had extraordinary eyesight. He was well versed on fishing and shooting but not on intimate matters. Nick remembers his boyhood hunting friends, Billy and Trudy.

Read “Fathers and Sons”

Fifty Grand

Jack Brennan, the welterweight champion, is preparing for a bout against Jimmy Walcott. Jack’s training is off, and his mindset isn’t right. His trainer, Jerry Doyle, tries to be positive but he has to admit that Jack doesn’t look like he should.

Read “Fifty Grand”

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

Doc Fischer and Doctor Wilcox sit in a hospital’s reception room. They relate an interesting case to the narrator. Yesterday, an anxious boy of sixteen entered the hospital. He wanted to be castrated on account of his lustful urges. Fischer and Wilcox refused and sent him away still agitated.

“I had been there when he came in. He was a boy about sixteen. He came in with no hat on and was very excited and frightened but determined.”

Read “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen”

Hills Like White Elephants

At a train station, a man and woman have a casual conversation which transitions into something serious. It’s not explicitly stated what they’re talking about.

Read “Hills Like White Elephants”

Homage to Switzerland

The story is divided into three parts. Each one begins with a man in a Swiss town waiting for a train. The waitress tells him its an hour late. He orders coffee and talks to the waitress. From there circumstances diverge.

Read “Homage to Switzerland”

In Another Country 

The narrator, a young man, is getting physical rehabilitation for a leg wound received at the front in WW I. Four other young men are also getting therapy. They hang out together after their sessions at the Café Cova.

Read “In Another Country”

Indian Camp

Nick, his father, and Uncle George board a rowboat. They’re going to the Indian camp, where a woman is sick. On the other side of the bay, they follow a trail to a shanty. Inside is a young Indian woman who’s been in labor for two days.

“She screamed just as Nick and the two Indians followed his father and Uncle George into the shanty.”

The Killers

Two hit men, Max and Al, enter a diner to get some food and to wait for their target to arrive. They’re looking for a boxer, Ole Andreson, whom their employer has a grudge against.

Read “The Killers”

The Light of the World

Two young men are passing through town. They stop at a bar for a drink and then encounter a motley group at a train station. Two of the women there, prostitutes, argue about a boxer they once knew.

Read “The Light of the World”

The Mother of a Queen

The narrator relates an incident with a man, Paco. His mother’s burial plot was paid for five years; he receives a notice that it’s expired. The narrator tells him he’ll take care of it. Paco insists he’ll handle it. A second and third notice soon arrives. On top of this, Paco owes the narrator a significant sum of money.

Read “The Mother of a Queen”

Mr. and Mrs. Elliot

The Elliot’s try to have a baby. Hubert is a poet with lots of money. He kept himself pure until marriage. He’s surprised that so many women don’t seem to care if men have been through the gutter. We’re told how they came together and what their life is like.

My Old Man 

The narrator tells the story of being with his father in Italy and France when he worked as a jockey. His father had an argument with some people after winning a race in Italy. In France he eventually buys his own horse to train and ride.

This is the third story in the preview of 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.

A Natural History of the Dead

The narrator furnishes the reader with some facts about the war-dead. He talks about the preponderance of male casualties, the fate of mules, the decomposition of bodies, how people die, and other related things.

“Most of those mules that I saw dead were along mountain roads or lying at the foot of steep declivities whence they had been pushed to rid the road of their encumbrance.”

Read “A Natural History of the Dead”

Old Man at the Bridge 

During the Spanish Civil War, an old man sits on the roadside, exhausted and discouraged.  Everyone is fleeing from the advancing fascist army.

This is the fourth story in the preview of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway(92% into the preview)

On the Quai at Smyrna

Refugees wait at the docks to be evacuated. Inexplicably, they scream at midnight. Conditions are unsettling and tragic.

Read “On the Quai at Smyrna”

One Reader Writes

A woman writes to an advice columnist about her husband. He returned from his military service with some kind of malady and she isn’t sure what to do.

Read “One Reader Writes”

Out of Season

A young American couple are staying in an Italian village. They hire a local, Perduzzi, to take them fishing. He has been drinking and wants money to buy more. The wife is concerned about being followed by the authorities.

The Revolutionist

A communist revolutionary travels by train in Italy in 1919. He has suffered for his cause. He’s shy, quiet and has no money. He’s looked at many pictures and bought reproductions of the ones he likes. He’s assisted by fellow comrades.

The Sea Change

A man and woman have a disagreement over something. She’s holding out. He doesn’t know what to do. She says she loves him, but that doesn’t make him any happier.

‘”Couldn’t you have gotten into something else? Couldn’t you have gotten into some other jam?”

“It seems not,” the girl said. “What are you going to do about it?”‘

Read “The Sea Change”

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber 

The Macomber’s are an American couple on an African safari. They have a guide, Wilson, a professional hunter, who will lead their outing. It is revealed that Francis had an embarrassing incident in an earlier hunt.

This is the first story in the preview of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway.

Soldier’s Home 

Krebs comes home after the First World War and keeps to himself. His mother wants him to do something with his life and meet people.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro 

On the African savannah, a man’s leg is rotting with gangrene. His wife tries to comfort and encourage him. As he waits for death, he thinks about his life.

This is the third story in the preview of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway(62% into the preview)

The Three-Day Blow

Nick walks through an orchard to a cottage at the top of a hill. He meets up with Bill. They drink and talk about the wind, reading, baseball and their fathers. Then the conversation turns to something that Nick has recently dealt with.

This is the second story in the preview of 50 Great Short Stories(Pg. 16)

The Undefeated

Manuel goes to Retana’s office. He knocks but it takes a while to get an answer. Manuel is looking for work. Retana is reluctant to offer him anything. Manuel has only done one bullfight in the last year. He just got out of the hospital after a serious leg injury.

Read “The Undefeated”

A Very Short Story

A soldier recuperates from an injury in the hospital. He and a nurse, Luz, fall in love and want to be married. He goes back to the front. After the armistice they make plans.

Read “A Very Short Story”

A Way You’ll Never Be

Nick Adams was wounded in battle and is shell-shocked. He rides a bicycle to his old Captain’s encampment. On the way he passes numerous war-dead and military debris. He’s able to recreate the main action of the battle.

“Their coats had been opened too and their pockets were out, and they showed, by their positions, the manner and the skill of the attack. The hot weather had swollen them all alike regardless of nationality.”

Read “A Way You’ll Never Be”