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An initiation story for both Ernest Hemingway and Nick Adams

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  1. Historical and biographical approach
  2. Structuralist approach

In this essay, I am going to study Ernest Hemingway's short story Indian Camp published in 1924 by using first the historical and biographical approach and then the structuralist approach. In this story, we follow Nick Adams and his father, a doctor, who is called at an Indian camp to help a pregnant women. He has to proceed to a caesarean and Nick assists him during the whole operation. Both mother and child survive but at the end the doctor discovers that the Indian newly father has committed suicide. The plot is quite minimalist: it is a one night story. The style is telegraphic and uncluttered, always precise. It gives to show without telling things directly.

[...] The responses his father gives him are very short: Not very many, Nick Hardly ever as if he himself did not know the answers. He also appears helpless in front of his child because he could not have prevented him from the bloody events he has witnessed this night. There is a new relative order, a better one because Nick seems to be more confident about his life now and more precisely about his death as the last sentence proves : In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die. [...]


[...] It is a moment of revelation and truth because everyone finally understood why he had been so still and quiet during the whole surgery. There is also a shift of perspective because everyone (including the reader) thought he was just passive, or even asleep, not dead Actually the focus is not on the mother, who does not understand what has just happened, but on Nick's reaction who have seen the dead man directly. The Indian's throat was cut from ear to ear when the doctor removed the blanket from his head. [...]


[...] The first one invites to compare Ernest Hemingway to Nick Adams and shows that they have much in common. Indeed their father are both doctors, they have apprehension about women giving birth to a child and they both will have to face the horrors of the war which will affect them a lot. Also, Hemingway's father is still alive when the short story is written, but he committed suicide a few years later. This tragic event will influence Hemingway's work and contribute to his morbid obsession with suicide. [...]

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