In the immortal words of William Tecumseh Sherman, "War is hell," and few wars in history can compare to the raw savagery of World War I . Between the years of 1914 and 1918, an entire generation of men, known as the "lost generation," was ravaged by the brutality of what they had witnessed . Those that were not physically killed in combat, found themselves dead in a metaphoric sense; unable to integrate back into society many spent their time wandering aimlessly, scorned by the very people they were protecting. Ernest Hemingway, himself a veteran of the war, characterizes the experiences of the "lost generation" in his short stories about Nick Adams . Adams is a young American man who goes to serve in Italy, is wounded in combat, and ultimately returns home, a series of events that closely parallel Hemingway's own experiences in the war. Like many of the American soldiers that return, Adams is unsure of what to do with his life, and in the short stories "Big Two-Hearted River," "The End of Something," and "The Three-Day Blow," Hemingway chronicles Nick's attempts at re-adjusting to his old way of life. In these stories Hemingway employs symbolism and diction to illustrate Nick's efforts to reconcile himself to the world. However, the influence of the war is too permanent, and all of Nick's efforts are in vain: for the rest of his life, the experiences of the war will continue to plague him.
[...] Finally, the future of Nick's attempts at reconciliation is revealed in the encounter with the swamp: the swamp, fishing was a tragic adventure. Nick did not want it. He did not want to go down the stream any farther.” The swamp represents the part of his past that he is not able to overcome, a symbol of the challenges of the outside world, challenges that he is not ready to face. If Two-Hearted River” can be seen as Nick's initial attempts at coping with his past, End of Something” can be interpreted as his dejected acceptance of the fact that he will never be able to cope. [...]
[...] His literary debut came with the publication of a collection of short stories, Our in 1925, and was followed by Sun Also Rises” in 1926, and another collection of short stories, Without Women” in 1927. Hemingway continued to publish both novels and short stories, including Farewell to as well as the stories that make up the collection of Nick Adams Stories.” The three short stories that make up the A Soldier Home section of Nick Adams Stories,” Two-Hearted River,” End of Something,” and Three-Day each detail a separate event in Nick's life after his return from the war, and when read together, represent his attempts at reconciling himself and his past: his initial effort at coping with his experiences during the war, his dejected acceptance that they will always affect him, and hit futile hope for peace in the future. [...]
[...] This is further seen in the minute descriptions that Hemingway provides, from the pegging of the tent to the construction of the fishing rod. Here, the reader is able to see the way in which Nick is completely concentrating on his task, blocking out all outside thoughts. However, the peace that Nick is able to achieve in the preparation of his camp is ultimately unraveled by his experience fishing, and his consistent failure at catching trout. Despite the perfect order of the world he has created, Nick loses his first big trout, leaving him feeling little sick, as though it would be better to sit down.” This experience is heightened by his hesitation to meet the challenges that the river offers, specifically the current and the swamp. [...]
[...] The wind blew everything like that away None of it was important now. The wind blew it out of his head. Still he could always go into town Saturday night. In this way, the wind symbolizes his determination to get his life into order: just as the physical wind blows away everything in its path, the figurative wind will blow away all of his problems. However, the realization is ultimately a hollow one, brought about by the alcohol and his desire to move past the horror of his experiences. [...]
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