Example Of Essay On How Does Hemmingway’s “The Killer” And “Indian Camp” Deal With The Theme Of Death?
The subject matter and style of Hemingway's writing represent the conventional American writing style. Hemmingway wrote a number of stories that included the common themes of as his men and women characters face death and different emotional turmoil. His characters are vulnerable, but they are not defined by this vulnerability. In his early writings, Hemingway presented himself through his character Nick Adams, a youthful child, who follows his father to an American Indian camp to deliver a baby boy. Similarly, Nick watches two killers who have been hired to kill a boxer. Throughout these stories the readers sees the way Hemingway’s characters deal with the theme of death. Hemingway’s “The Killer” and “Indian Camp” use the literary devices of contrast, dialogue and rich imagery to bring out the way individuals perceive death.
Hemmingway uses his personal experiences to bring out the universal theme of death. Nick Adams gives the reflection on death from a child’s perspective. The child-like account of these experiences contradicts the complex nature of the adult world. Nick experiences these factors and displays shock at the way that individuals deal with death and the emotional pain that comes with childbirth in “Indian Camp.” Similarly, “The Killers” show Nick's child-like initiation into the adult world as he attempts to understand the evil that exists in the world. "Indian Camp" and “The Killer” contain a number of contrasting and contradictory ideas. One can blame Nick’s father for these misconceptions in “Indian Camp” as he shows no emotions to the Indian woman’s pain and subjects Nick to the emotional trauma that he experiences. Although, the father saves the lives of the mother and her child, he fails to help the husband to overcome his emotional distress. Through this experience, Nick is thrown into a world that includes the mysteries of death and life.
Nick’s attempt to understand the sufferings of individuals suggests that the theme of loss is common in one’s daily life. Clearly, Hemingway presents this idea through the way the characters suffer through their physical illnesses. The contrast of the joy the Indian woman experiences with the birth of her child does not last long as her husband commits suicide. In fact, the river symbolizes the calm and serenity that contrasts the audio imagery of the screams of the Indian woman. The young Nick is confused as he does not understand the logics that surround the happy birth and the sadness or death that comes shortly. Hemingway gives no indication at the start of the story that would lead the readers to believe that there would be much anguish. Again, Hemingway adds contrast as Nick rows back with his father and questions him on the absence of his uncle George to the possibility of death, but he holds on to the idea that he would not die. His childish outlook on death happening to others is similar to the interpretations that the older Nick presents to the readers.
Interestingly, the older Nick cannot understand the way Ole accepts death even though he warns him that there were two killers seeking to kill him. His choice of words is direct and the reader leans early that Nick’s quick escape from the impending death is different from the idealistic defiance of the childlike Nick. For both the characters of Nick, the readers see that the experience of death in any form is different. Nonetheless Hemmingway uses the dialogue of the two Nicks to show that adults are callous in their treatment of death. The cold and impersonal way that Hemingway presents death in “The Killers” give Nick the feeling that he must prevent these deaths. He speaks of his need to do what is right in a simple language that leaves the readers wondering whether he is making the right choice. His actions are different from those of the other characters who speak openly about the lack of enthusiasm to become involved in the mystery of death.
Hemingway shows that every experience in life is different. In both stories, Nick learns that the world is different than it appears at a first glance. The well-dressed killers in “The Killers” do not physically display their intentions and the pregnant woman in “Indian Camp” does not show the signs that labor can be extremely difficult. But, through the use of imagery and the dialogue between the characters, Nick learns that the world is not always as it appears as what he perceives at a first glance turns out to be different. Nonetheless, the readers learn of the separate choices that Nick makes as he attempts to understand people and the way they act. Hemingway proves that a writer’s style results from motivated choices (Da Silva, p.233) that come to the forefront to show his skill with words. Hemingway deliberately uses selected words and structures to bring out the anxious resignation as his character face the reality of predictable defeat and suffering.
Conversely, Hemingway divides the world of the father, George, and Nick through the structure of his narrative and the frequent breaks in the sentences. In dividing these sentences, Hemingway manages to share the neutral parts of the information. The pauses between the sentences add clarity to the fact that Nick is ignorant to the purpose of his journey in “Indian Camp,” but the structure of the face-paced language in “The Killers” show that Nick is nervous because he learns of the impending death. The repetition of the sounds and the structure shows that Nick is ignorant of the world in which he lives. Hemingway writes: “Nick and his father got in the stern of the boat and the Indians shoved it off and one of them got in to row” (IC, 83), and then: “Uncle George sat in the stern of the camp rowboat. The young Indian shoved the camp boat off and got in to row Uncle George” (IC, 83). Clearly, there is the idea that Nick blindly sees and relates the events as they happen before his eyes and he does not see the complications of childbirth until he hears the woman’s cries.
In concluding, Hemingway’s “The Killers” and “Indian Camp” look at the way one perceives the impact of evil in the society. His narrative style is apparent as he forces the readers to make assumptions based on the limited references he makes to his personal views on evil and death in the society. In “The Killers” and “Indian Camp” the reader sees the callousness of individual as they experience pain and physical distress. But, it is the reaction of his narrator to these episodes that reveals the difference in the way individuals deal with the ills of the society. In “Indian Camp” Nick defies death and promises never to face death. His stance against death is in direct contrast to Nick in “The Killers” who runs away from the impending murder of Ole. Still, both stories show that individuals often question the unknown in an effort to find answers. Clearly, it is Hemingway’s ability to intrigue and mystify his readers that creates the separate views of the way individuals deal with the evil that exists in the society.
Da Silva, Luciany Margarida Hemingway's "The Killers" In Portuguese UFSC Viewed at:
March 1, 2015
Forest, Eleonore Laine (2007) “Indian Camp” – A Story in Disguise” Special Issue: Ernest
Hemingway, Journal of the Short Story in English, Vol. 49 Autumn 2007 Viewed at
Accessed March 1, 2015