Posted in Short Stories

“The Gambler, The Nun and The Radio”

Another Hemingway short story!  In this one, a Mr. Frazer is in the hospital with a broken leg.  We don’t get a lot of information about Mr. Frazer although he seems to be a writer.

During his stay, he encounters a professional, but unsuccessful, gambler, Cayutano Ruiz, in the hospital after being shot by someone he took for $38.  Several of Ruiz’s friends visit him  and a conversation ensues with Mr. Frazer about religion. According to one of the friends, religion is the opium of the people (he couldn’t remember from whom he had heard this).  Mr. Frazer, to himself, decides that there are many aspects of life that could be considered “opium”.  He comes up with his own list.

Mr. Frazer enjoys the hospital’s radio (my guess is this story takes place before television) to listen to music, baseball and football.  As the hospital is in Montana, the radio picks up more stations as the local ones sign off for the night.

Speaking of religion, a nun nurses both Mr. Frazer and Ruiz.  Sister Cecilia comes with her own quirks and eccentricities.  She enjoys listening to baseball with Mr. Frazer but has to repeatedly run to the chapel to pray when the game’s action gets tense:

The world series nearly finished me.  When the Athletics were at bat I was praying right out loud:  ‘Oh, Lord, direct their batting eyes!  Oh, Lord, may he hit one!  Oh, Lord, may he hit safely!’  Then when they filled the bases in the third game, you remember,  it was too much for me.  ‘Oh, Lord, may he hit it out of the lot!  Oh, Lord, may he drive it clean over the fence!’  Then you know when the Cardinals would come to bat it was simply dreadful.  ‘Oh, Lord, may they not see it!  Oh, Lord, don’t let them even catch a glimpse of it!’

She doesn’t see how anyone could enjoy football, until she discovers Notre Dame.


5 thoughts on ““The Gambler, The Nun and The Radio”

  1. Hi Dale,
    This story sounds like it had more humor in it than the Hemingway stories that I have read. I’m thinking I may have a mini-project related to him next year. Not sure what form it will take, though.
    P.S. off topic- are you still going to re-ead Johnny Tremain this month? I bought a digital copy and was thinking about encouraging others from “our generation” who read my blog toplay along, or at least pick a nostalgic read of their own.

    1. I found it more humorous than a lot of his stories. Although “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” was funny in a rather dark way. Yes, I’m looking forward to reading Johnny Tremain! I am finishing up Armageddon in Retrospect hopefully by tomorrow. I was going to read The Fault In Our Stars, a YA novel that I’ve seen all over the place by Indianapolis author, John Green. I should finish it by this coming weekend. If there is a date that we can start JT sometime on Sept. 10 or after, let me know. It would be great if there were others who could join us!

      1. Jay, after thinking about it, perhaps I’m taking this read-along thing too literally. Do we just say this month we’re reading Johnny Tremain – kind of like a book club – and then post about it?

  2. Hi uzma! While I’m not a literary expert by any means, I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of Hemingway. There are certain themes that end up in Hemingway’s stories. He tends to see life as being meaningless – this comes out in the way Ruiz loses in gambling to the point of ending up in the hospital, for $38, This comes off a little more humorous in this story than his other ones.

    Whatever meaning he does find in life tends to be in whatever the individual themselves can get out of it. He enjoyed sports – the more extreme the better. My guess is baseball would have been low on his enjoyment list – it isn’t as “do or die” as football may have seemed to him. But even football wouldn’t have compared to bullfighting or Safari hunting – for Hemingway.

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