The Sea Change (Hemingway)

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The Sea Change
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A couple in a Parisian café discussed their relationship, with the man struggling to accept the woman's infidelity with another woman, ultimately telling her to leave.

A man and a woman sat in a café in Paris, both tanned from the summer, looking out of place in the city. The woman, dressed in a tweed suit with short blonde hair, told the man that she couldn't do something he wanted her to do.

The Girl — tanned, blonde with short hair; beautiful, apologetic, sincere.

The man, frustrated, accused her of not wanting to do it.

The Man — tanned, struggling with acceptance; bitter, sarcastic.

They argued, and the man threatened to kill someone, presumably a rival for the woman's affections. The woman tried to calm him down, saying it wouldn't make him happy.

I’ll kill her. Please don’t. It won’t make you happy. Couldn’t you have gotten into something else? Couldn’t you have gotten into some other jam?

The man wished the woman had gotten into a different kind of trouble, but she asked him what he was going to do about it. He didn't know, and she expressed her love for him, but he didn't believe her.

I love you very much. Yes, this proves it. I’m sorry if you don’t understand. I understand. That’s the trouble. I understand.

She apologized and asked if he could forgive her, but he couldn't. They discussed the nature of vice and perversion, and the woman insisted that she would come back to him after she had done whatever it was she needed to do.

The man eventually told her to go, and she left the café without looking back. He went to the bar and told the barman, James, that he was a different man now. He looked in the mirror and saw that he had indeed changed. James and the other patrons at the bar agreed that he looked well, and the man reflected on the strange nature of vice.