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Ernest Hemingway's Indian Camp - Analysis

Keywords: indian camp hemingway, indian camp analysis

The Indian camp is generally named one of Hemingway's best & most interesting short stories. It primarily focuses on the partnership between father and son, and on its attendant rites of initiation into the world of adult experience: child birth, lack of innocence and suicide. (Werlock).

The boy, Nick Adams, accompanies his doctor father to the Indian camp in which a pregnant woman has serious issues as she labors to give birth. Dr. Adams ultimately saves her life which of the infant by performing a caesarian section, but, shortly afterwards, the girl husband commits suicide. The storyplot dramatizes what is apparently the young Nick Adams first confrontation with profound personal suffering. This can be reflected in the many questions that he poses to his father, "do women will have such a hard time having babies?" and "do many men kill themselves, Daddy?", the afflictions and torments of life now seem to be clear to Nick for the very first time in his life.

A variety of specific questions arise from this short story, such as, why does the Indian husband kill himself? What is Uncle George's role, and just why does he disappear by the end of the storyplot? How are we supposed to feel toward Dr. Adams? although the story is regularly read as a father-son initiation tale, these sort of questions encourage a reader to look beyond the easy and benevolent idea that Dr. Adams almost surely saved the life of the Indian woman and her baby and focus attention on even more disturbing areas of the storyplot. (Tyler)

The story Indian camp, was crafted with a lot of symbolism and other areas of literature that are so characteristic of Hemingway's, approach and technique of narrating his stories, that is, in an exceedingly simple and clear way but full and rich with hidden meanings. These aspects of the storyplot are what this paper will seek to check out and address, with the expectation that they can come as close as is possible to what other writers have attemptedto imply Hemingway meant when he wrote the short story.

The story through various aspects portrays the notion of initiation, young Nick Adams has been initiated into adulthood. Right from the start of the storyplot, nick and his father, "got in the stern of the boat" and then "crossed over" in one area to some other by use of water. This particular herein represents not just a means of travel but also, the cycle of life from birth to death. moreover, when they are heading back, the writer states, "The sun was coming up over the hills" this too symbolizes a new beginning for young nick who through the experience at the Indian camp, returns home, having passed through another rite of passage. Furthermore, when they arrive at the Indian camp, "the young Indian stopped and blew out his lantern". This literal shift from lightness to darkness represents the figurative separation for nick. He no more is positioned in his safe place.

The description and the meticulous details that Hemmingway has narrated with regards to the journey that they take to arrive at the Indian camp. A journey that was seemingly lengthy and endless. That they had to travel over the river and through the forest overcoming all the obstacles and being blinded by nightfall. This journey will signify the passage an individual takes after birth all the way through to adulthood, commonly referred to as 'the journey of life'.

The Indian woman's screams have been going on for a long time, so long that the men of the village have purposely moved out of earshot; but Dr. Adams tells nick that the screams "are not important"(68) and chooses not to hear them. As a doctor, he adopts this attitude as a professional necessity to be able to perform the trial of performing the procedure without aesthetic. Conversely, it may indicate his callousness to the girl evident pain.

Dr. Adams is coolly professional to the idea of callousness. His jubilant pride in his work soon after the procedure becomes particularly pronounced when the writer writes, "He was feeling exalted and talkative as football players are in the dressing room after a game. " In addition when he addresses Uncle George and says, "That's one for the medical journal, George, " "Performing a Caesarian with a jack-knife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered gut leaders. " Ironically this ends, as soon as he realizes that his indifference to his patients' screams blinded him to the acute emotional suffering of her husband in top of the bunk, suffering that directly led to the man's suicide. Readers' view of DR. Adams may influence just how they interpret the Indians husband's suicide: how come he slit his throat occasions after Dr. Adams has operated and the baby is successfully delivered? Do readers see a connection between the occurrence of Uncle George and the husband's decision to commit suicide? Is Uncle George the father?

We also have to check out uncle George's remarks to Dr. Adams, " oh, you're a great man, fine"(69), this may have been taken either as a seriously remark, designed to congratulate him for the successive delivery or sarcastically intended, in mention of the widely speculated thought that the born child could be his son ?

The short bust of questions from Nick to his father on the importance of life and death leave him with his final thought: "he feels quite sure he'd never die" (70). Nicks reflections on immortality, here in the protective warmth of his father's arms, may represent his last moments of youthful innocence before he falls into such adult experience such as romance and war that are reflected in the latter chapters of 'in our time'.

It is also worth noting the father's cruelty in compelling his son to participate in a bloody, exquisite painful operation, that your boy is too young to see. Prior to the suicide, the evidently overwhelmed young boy elects to avoid watching the operation. Moreover, the fathers' mention of his son as an "interne" indicates his egoistic motivation in compelling his son to witness the messy and painful surgery. He wants to remake his son into his own image

There is also the explicit description that Hemmingway gives while associated with the graphic image of the Indian who commits suicide, "His throat had been cut from ear to ear. The blood had flowed down into a pool where his body sagged the bunk. His head rested on his left arm. The open razor lay, edge up, in the blanket"(69. ), this great detail description is utilized to show the effect that the picture had on Nick, since soon after, he commences a conversation along with his dad, whereby he questions his father about suicides. This leads changes the focus to death as opposed to the birth of a new child. Nick is shocked at the sight of a dead person and through this he learns that indeed life is very easy to cut short. And likewise removes the peaceful image that that they had of the world, a harmless and untouched world.

The birth of the infant and the next death of the Indian husband is an ironic tragic event. Through this happy yet tragic chain of events, the real message of humanity's own mortality is revealed. Life gives way to death and the reverse is also true

Many if not all initiation stories end with a sort of epiphany which usually signals the prime of the maturity procedure for the protagonist, in Indian camps, the story will not follow the traditional orthodox pattern of initiation stories. Nick, Dr. Adams sons will not come to the accepted realization and ending, from his final thought: "he feels quite sure he'd never die" (70). He implies that his maturity process still remains incomplete in the initiation. (Campbell)

Hemingway's' oblique and sparse writing style encourages such open-ended questions, and his ending to the story refuses to select a single clear. This can be reflected in his end statements which leave the reader with an increase of questions than answers to think and pounder about.

Cited sources

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 3, illustrated. " NEW WORLD " Library, 2008.

Hemingway, Earnest. "Indian Camp. " In the entire Short Stories of Earnest Hemingway. The

Finca Vigfa Edition. New York: Charles Scribner's sons, 1987.

Tyler, Lisa. Student companion to Ernest Hemingway. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.

Werlock, James P. The Facts on File companion to the American short story, Volume 2. 2.

Infobase Publishing, 2010.

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