An Alpine Idyll (Hemingway)

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An Alpine Idyll
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two friends returned from a skiing trip and encountered a peasant who had just buried his wife, who died months ago, and learned about his disturbing treatment of her corpse.

Two friends, John and the narrator, came down from a month-long skiing trip in the Silvretta mountains and arrived at a small town called Galtur. They were tired of the sun and the snow and were glad to be back in the valley.

The Narrator — narrator; one of the two friends returning from a skiing trip; tired of the sun and skiing.
John — the narrator's friend; also returning from the skiing trip; missed drinking beer during their time in the mountains.

As they passed the churchyard, they saw a funeral had just ended. They greeted the priest, but he did not respond. At the inn, they drank beer and read their mail. A bearded peasant, who they had seen earlier at the funeral, entered with the sexton.

The Peasant — bearded man in high boots; buried his wife after months of her death; treated her corpse in a disturbing manner.
The Sexton — little man with a mustache; involved in the burial of the peasant's wife; amused by the situation.

The peasant ordered schnapps and red wine, and after paying for the drinks, he left. The innkeeper and the sexton then joined John and the narrator, and the innkeeper began to tell them a story about the peasant.

The Innkeeper — tall, old man; owner of the inn where the friends stayed; disapproving of the peasant's actions.

These peasants are beasts. You wouldn’t believe it. You wouldn’t believe what just happened about that one.

The peasant's wife had died in December, but he could not bring her body to the town for burial until the snow had melted. When the priest saw the woman's face, he was suspicious and questioned the peasant about her death. The peasant explained that after his wife died, he had stored her body in a shed and used her open mouth to hang a lantern while he worked at night.

When she died I made the report to the commune and I put her in the shed across the top of the big wood.

The priest was shocked and asked if the peasant had loved his wife, to which he replied that he did. The innkeeper and the sexton found the story amusing, but also thought that the peasant was a beast for treating his wife's body in such a manner. After the story, John and the narrator decided to order food at the inn.