A Simple Enquiry

"A Simple Enquiry" is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway.[1] It was published in 1927 in the collection Men Without Women and is notable for its focus on homosexuality.[2][3]


Three Italian soldiers are snowbound. The senior soldier, the Major, calls a 19-year-old orderly into his room and asks whether he had ever loved a woman. Most critics interpret the ensuing conversation as the major propositioning the orderly. When his questions are rebuffed, he dismisses the orderly from the room with the understanding that he will not press the issue. The major questions whether the orderly was telling the truth.


  • The major
  • Tonani, an adjutant
  • Pinin, the major's orderly


  1. ^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Ernest Hemingway: The Critical Heritage (Psychology Press, 1997), p. 112.
  2. ^ Nolan, Charles J. (1995-03-22). "Hemingway's Complicated "Enquiry" in 'Men without Women.'". Studies in Short Fiction. 32 (2): 217. ISSN 0039-3789.
  3. ^ Hemingway, Ernest (2014-05-22). Men Without Women. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476770178.

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A Simple Enquiry