The moonlight was not enough. The nights were made of darkness and fear. A palpable fear, so strong it could have paralyzed the most powerful of men. His nights were not made to rest, anymore. For they were covered with different shades of black. And that soldier knew that if he shut his eyes in the dark, his soul would go out of his body. He was certain of that. So, if there was not some light around, he was going to stay awake. Thinking. Nothing more dangerous than a human being immersed in terror and left alone, thinking. The past stepped in as a haze of blurred images, forgotten names and one regret or two. Prayers were said over and over. And when he could not remember them, he recited every form of living thing he knew. And then cities and streets.
...and when I could not remember anything at all any more I would just listen. And I do not remember a night on which you could not hear things. If I could have a light I was not afraid to sleep, because I knew my soul would only go out of me if it were dark.
Until he found himself in broad daylight, when it was safe to sleep. If the ground was also safe.
In this short story (my last one), Hemingway openly leads the path towards the character's mind, and we are restless witnesses of his struggle and the way he found to deal with his fear. A fear created by war and that was portrayed as the inability to sleep in the dark. The best way the soldier found to keep his soul within him.
As stated above, this is one of the most psychologically deep stories I have read during these past few days. There is not just one line that barely allows you to understand the characters, but... everything. So you can imagine my surprise. Sure, the story is written with Hemingway's renowned minimalistic style, but Iceberg City does not feel so silently cold anymore. In fact—and concerning most of his stories—emotions often disrupt this seemingly descriptive atmosphere with the strength of a loud storm. Through a word, a line, a paragraph. It takes time. The most precious thing we have. But it is there, beneath all triviality, all ordinary descriptions, actions. Beneath every detail that illustrates the surroundings, the contrast between man and nature. And the complement they represent to each other.