Analyzing The story of The Butterfly and the Tank

The Butterfly and the Tank By Ernest Hemingway

Analyzed by

Plot overview

It was the second winter of shelling in the siege of Madrid. The story starts with a writer who decides to take a break from the rain falling by stooping into Chicotes’ café.
The place was crowded and tables were full; full of smoke, singing, men in uniform and leather coat smell.
The writer sat with a German who knows before and also with a couple of people he doesn't know or recognize. And even his job requires him to know about all sorts of people; he didn't bother himself to know them that time.
The singing was aloud that your speech cannot be heard. While sitting, the girl that the writer describes as a pretty terrible has took a drink on his account. Meanwhile, the writer has wished if he didn’t step by and if he had gone to the hotel rather than sitting and not feeling anything special,.
The conversations were simple and out of importance, and the writer felt board and he intended to have a last drink and leave after. But a sudden action happened; a civilian man (Pedro) started to squirt one of the waiters with a flit gun. Everyone laughed, but the waiter didn’t; and he told him that he have no right to do what he did, but Pedro continue his doing on other waiters. Pedro’s squirting became a protest. So, three men in uniform took Pedro outside and hit him badly, and they went back again inside the Café.
At first Pedro was squirting on waiters, but after being hit he started to squirt in a random directions that anyone can be a target for the flit gun.
As a reaction, the men stand up and started to gather around him but with real guns and Pedro starts to struggle wildly. After that; a shot went off and Pedro was killed.
The police came to investigate the accident and after they finished; they found that Pedro have put Colonia inside the flit gun and what he did wasn’t more than a gaiety and pleasure he wanted to fill in people’s hearts and make a lovely atmosphere.
Pedro was a fighter but a pain in his chest forced him to set from his duty so he made anew duty which is making people happy. The story has been explained in a lovely way; by saying that the pain of Pedro’s chest has gathered with gaiety. In another word: His gaiety came in contact with the seriousness of the war as a Butterfly united with a Tank.


1- The writer

He is the only character who stayed until the end of the story. He’s working in censorship office. And although his nature as a writer is curious in knowing all the human beings kind, he didn’t felt so that time at Chicotes’. He seems as a negative person and he value his life very much and this is obvious when he went to hide after hearing the gun shot and his negative also appeared when he didn’t do anything for the dead man. And in that case he also shows how cold-heart and cruel he is by not even thinking of anything except himself and we can refer that to the reflection of the war on human being. Another thing about him that he is a social person and he likes to share things with others like when he shares the idea of writing the story  about what happened in Chicotes’ . He also doesn’t take things for granted like when he firstly didn’t accept the proposal name of the story he wants to write.

2- The German man

He’s a thin, white-faced and Adam’s apple man who works in censorship also as the writer. He lacks morals; like when he took the cigarette from the writer’s hand and asked if he mind after having it. He wasn’t a liked person, he was a gossiper and gossip was the best thing he do and because of that he’s consider as a fortune of information which is about anyone and in anywhere, and he encouraged to write the story  and saw it a good idea.

3- The pretty terrible girl

As from her name, she’s not a beautiful girl. She represents her personality as a forceful looking girl and she has boldness like when she took a drink in account of the writer. She works on the radio and she also has a nurse training. She is trying to have a contact with the writer. We can add to this that she is fearless girl and a furious one like when she wanted to know what’s happening around despite that the situation is vehement “when Pedro has been shot”. She also seems a kind-heart person when she intends to help Pedro; not knowing the he’s dead.


4- The three men in uniform

They have sense of nobility and chivalry that they didn’t accept what Pedro was doing because in somehow it went to the ridge of it and it cannot be tolerate anymore. They saw that they must do something as it’s their duty, so they took Pedro outside and hit him. Here we need to understand that no matter the intention is; it’s not acceptable to hit a man before talking to him first.

5- The flit gun man (Pedro)

When we read about him at the beginning we can judge that he’s a rude and lacks moral attitudes, but later on we realize that he was trying to make sense of humor by no intention to hurt people. He wanted to make them happy and please them as the people are suffering from the effects of the war. He was married and his work was a cabinet maker. Poor Pedro was a worrier a man who has a pain in his chest that didn’t let him continue in fighting. And if we want to analyze what he did we can say he felt that if his duty in the army has failed then he should not accept that everything is finished so he put a duty for himself which is pleasing people and make them happy, but unfortunately it was the opposite and led to his killed. Pedro has been represented as a butterfly because the joy and gaited that he represent, and that gaited has joined with the seriousness of the war. Then we have a Butterfly united with a Tank and become one part.

6- Waiters

They are very nice people who serve in a good way. Moreover, they are very respectful and dignify, and this is shown when they use words to enforce (Pedro) to stop rather than using violence. Another thing about them that we can consider them as a witness in showing the war effect on people, because their job on a café that anyone and in anytime can be in. So they have experience in how to deal with people.

7- The Chicotes’ manager

He’s a dignified man. His relationship with everybody is a good one. He has a great horizon. It seems that he likes people and like chatting with them as he did with the writer. He spoke to the writer and passes him information about the dead man (Pedro) and also encouraged him to write about the accident as a story and also suggesting name for the story and insisting on it which is “The Butterfly and the Tank”


1-    How intention can be understood: No one understood Pedro’s intention and that led to his killed.

2-   War’s reflection on the general mood and atmosphere.

3-   Prizes of the fate: It’s shown by having the writer a story to write about, and this can be seen in most of our life’s situation.


1 The flit gun: Gun means war, but in our case gun means gaiety because it has Colonia in it. The flit gun must be a rude thing to be use, but later on it means a reflection to life and tries to make people happy and drag them from their bad mood which caused by war.

2- The war itself and what does it carry with from sadness, haters and ugliness.

3- Luck and how can it change situations.

4- Cruelty of the world and it’s doughtiness of human beings intentions.

5- Mystery: Like the mystery of the killer. Like in wars everything is mystery and vague.


1-  The drink: represents joy and worm, it can be an escape from reality that they are facing because the war. So it’s their only way to happiness is to have it in the fake way by drinking.

2- Leather jackets: the smell of it is something dominant above everything else. It can represent the uneasy life which they are struggling in.

3- Radio: It represents an odd picture in the writer’s mind and the people who work in it consider as freaks. It can be because the radio is the only media that gives people information especially about war and what’s happening in it at that time.

4- Singing: it’s represented as storms that keep changing from one level to another.



The reason for choosing this story is that it’s a very interesting and very impressive story.  It has also many lessons to learn. And it’s directly addresses the mind.  And one of the lessons we should learn from it that our good deed sometimes cannot be a good one for others so we should be careful when we do anything in order not to unfair to ourselves and others and in order not to live in regret for the rest of our life.





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Comment by Afgy on August 18, 2014 at 14:14
Thanks stranger for stopping by ^^ , and thanks for your opinion brother

Comment by Stranger in the night on August 17, 2014 at 15:19

thats why i chosen technical profession, cuz dealing with numbers is easier than dealing with ton of letters:)

but good job, analyze is not less impressive than story itself!

Comment by Afgy on July 12, 2014 at 21:32

Kai sure not the story :) The analyse Yes More than once 

What I can say it's a story :) 

Comment by Kai © on July 12, 2014 at 16:48

what a long blog , have you ever read it after finished it ?

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