Mr. Johnson Talks About It at Vevey (Hemingway)

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Mr. Johnson Talks About It at Vevey
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man awaiting a train in a Swiss station café conversed with a waitress and station porters about his impending divorce, but found that talking about it only made him feel worse.

A man named Mr. Johnson found himself in a station café in Vevey, Switzerland, waiting for the Simplon-Orient Express, which was an hour late. He struck up a conversation with a waitress who spoke multiple languages, and they discussed her language skills and her work at the café.

Mr. Johnson — narrator; 35-year-old writer; facing his first divorce; speaks multiple languages; tries to find comfort in conversation.
The Waitress — young woman working at the station café; speaks English, German, and French; polite, professional, and friendly.

Johnson then invited her to join him for a night out, but she declined, citing her duty to her job. Feeling lonely, Johnson decided to share a bottle of champagne with three station porters.

The Porters — three older men working at the station; speak French and German; friendly, curious, and understanding.

He revealed to them that his wife had decided to divorce him, and they discussed the differences in divorce rates between their countries.

My wife has decided to divorce me. It is doubtless a common experience, but I have been upset.

The porters expressed sympathy for Johnson's situation, but the conversation eventually turned to other topics, such as their personal lives and careers. Despite the company and conversation, Johnson found that talking about his impending divorce did not make him feel any better.

Inside the café he had thought that talking about it would blunt it; but it had not blunted it; it had only made him feel nasty.

He decided to leave the café and take a walk in the snow, leaving the porters to finish the champagne.