Group Title: theme of individuation in the short stories of Ernest Hemingway
Title: The Theme of individuation in the short stories of Ernest Hemingway
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: The Theme of individuation in the short stories of Ernest Hemingway
Physical Description: vi, 222, 1 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: DeFalco, Joseph Michael, 1931-
Publication Date: 1961
Copyright Date: 1961
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D)--University of Florida, 1961.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 220-221.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00097980
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000561617
oclc - 13549905
notis - ACY7551


This item has the following downloads:

PDF ( 8 MBs ) ( PDF )

Full Text





June, 1961



The existence of architectonic forms in literary creations

presupposes a base point from which the artist proceeds in order to

actuate his aesthetic formulations. This point would presumably lie

in the realm of the conceptual and would correspond to some degree with

the artist' s intent. Hemingway' s entire literary edifice rests on his

openly avowed desire to translate factual data into fictive configura-

tions which in turn re-create the essence of true-life experience.

In effect he set for himself the task of capturing reality in a repre-

sentative art form. The establishment of a referent implies much more

than mere intent on the artist's part, for if he has fully committed

himself to the inherent possibilities of his choice then he has at the

same time selected the governing agency of his artistic productions.

The problem then would remain of selecting the most suitable means by

which the ends of this agency would best be served.

In his short stories Hemingway structures the content upon the

theme of individuation. His central characters constantly face contin-

gent forces in life. Their attempts to reconcile the irrationality of

these intrusions form the underlying motivation for action. Reconciling

the seemingly irreconcilable demands feats of heroic magnitude at the

individual level, Some of Hemingway's heroes fail, some succeed; others

assimilate the irrational elements and emerge as a different kind of hero,

For the latter, assimilation amounts to crucifixion, and several of

Hemingwayr a heroes follow the pattern of the crucified-god motif.

Those who manage to face the irrational forces and who compromise with

them become the "adjusted" ones. Those who cannot compromise or over-

come these forces become moral cowards and are depicted as the alien-

ated and isolated ones.

Anl examination of Hemingway's short stories in the light of

Carl Gustav Jung's psychoanalytic procedures reveals suggestive realms

in Hemingway s fiction hitherto submerged under the epithets of natural-

ism and realism. Hemingway' s artistry goes far beyond such generaliza-

tions, and only a close examination of individual stories reveals its

true range. In the short stories Hemingway has attempted to catalogue

the progress of contemporary man in his strivings to somehow come to

terms with a world which he cannot truly understand. Sometimes the

focus is upon individual and local conflicts, but always the imagina-

tive manipulations of symbolic materials project such conflicts beyond

the immediate. To examine the interworkings of Hemingway's stories is

to comprehend the complete mastery which Hemingway holds over his

material .

In this study I have drawn more on the works of Jung as inform-

ing agents than as rigid guides to force Hemingway's artistry into the

mold of psychoanalysis. Jungian patterns of motifs and psychological

insights offer rich possibilities for literary interpretation, and I

have drawn upon them when needed. Joseph Campbellrs work has provided

illuminating insights, many of which could not be documented since

they were peripheral rather than direct. Professor William Bysshe Stein's

articles and some personal discussion were helpful. Professor Edwin

M. Mioseley, with whom I studied as an undergraduate, contributed much

to my early and lasting insights into Hemingway's fiction.

The careful guidance and sympathy given me by my committee

chairman, Professor Harry R. Warfel, needs to be acknowledged in other

ways; without his critical acumen and kindly advice this study would

have been impossible. I wish also to thank Professor Charles W. Morris,

who not only served as a committee member but also guided me through

my investigations of Jung. Professor David Stryker, Professor Stephen

F. Fogel, and Professor John A. Penrod served as members of my committee

and gave me their time and advice when I most needed it. Others who may

go unacknowledged here also have my gratitude.



PREFACE ........... ... ......... iii


I. INTRODUCTION ........ .......... .. 1


III. THRESHOLD EXPERIENCES . ... .. ... . .. 67

IV, THE WJAR AND AFPER .. .. .. .. .. .. 103

V. THE MARRIAGE GROUP .................. 155

VI. THE HE1%NGWAY HERO .. .. . .... ... .. 185

BIBLIOGRAPHY ......................... 220

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .. .. .... .. .. .. .. .. 222



In any work of fiction the artist must solve the problem of

selecting an adequate framework upon which to exploit his thematic

design. The choice may be fortunate or unfortunate, depending upon

the degree of skill of the particular artist. It may be an obvious,

mechanical device, with the primary function of furthering the literal

development of surface action, or it may serve a more meaningful pur-

pose as an actual, integral part of the theme itself. This latter

function is certainly the one to be desired, for this important element

in the over-all unity of any work is a major contributing factor to its

artistic success.

Ultimately, of course, if the artistic integrity of a work has

been adequately sustained, it is impossible to separate the internal

architectonic forms from the thematic design itself. Both are mutually

supporting and interpenetrative, taking their vitality one from another

in such a manner that any attempt at isolation of one results in the

diminished significance of its complement. Moreover, due regard to the

coequality of the two as fictive ingredients may lead to a more coherent

understanding of the whole as an artistic totality. Immanuel Kant in

Critique of Pure Reason cites form and idea as the body and soul of an

artistic composition. The analogy holds also in this instance, for

neither framework nor theme is complete within itself. The sublimation

of mode and idea, of form and theme, is finally the test of the true

worth of the artistry involved in any imaginative work.

A work of fiction as an imaginative dramatization of ideas

must confonn to the implications of its nature. In America the products

of fictional endeavor are numerous, but only in a few is the union and

harmony of the mechanical and the conceptual apparent. Melville's

MoyDc, Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and RTain's The Adventures

of Huckleberry Finn are among the works of the past that have exhibited

such an artistry, and they are among America's greatest literary


Close examination of the works of these three authors demon-

strates that each was a master in creating the mode of expression best

suited to project his themes. Nothing is gained, for instance, in

viewing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a simple story of a boy

on a raft floating down a river, for this surface examination overlooks

the important fact that Twain carefully structured his story on the

journey artifice and that Huck's development as a moral and ethical

agent is an inherent part of a universal pattern. It would be equally

inconsequential to designate Mb i as a story solely about whale

hunting or The Scarlet Letter as a description of life in early Puritan

Boston. Both of these novels are considerably more, and what makes

them more than simple stories is the artistry employed in evolving a

framework which adequately serves as the vehicle for conveying a theme.

Each of these novels has a framework that is much more than

surface outline or simple plot structure. In The Adventures of Huckle-

berry Finn such an outline might take cognizance of the episodic struc-

ture, but it would surely miss the correlative mythological and psycho-

logical journey that projects the local into the universal. These

suggestive realms not immediately apparent on the surface of any work

give it thematic depth and project what otherwise might be a superficial

whim or ideal of an author into the sphere of the primordial conflicts

of all men. The ability of an author to so mold his framework that the

reader is constantly subjected to forces beyond the mere transitory

nuances of surface conflict inevitably determines the degree of imme-

diacy in a work of art. It is this quality that is apprehended by

successive generations and makes for permanence in the form.

All art strives for permanence in some fashion, and the degree

of its success is in no small measure due to the artist's ability to

penetrate beyond surface reality into the realm of the universal.

As many efforts to achieve the true in art have been made as there have

been great artists; yet only those authors who have approached success

in this matter have escaped obscurity. Theories of art and aesthetics

are plentiful; since the time of Plato and Aristotle theorists have

striven to characterize the essential elements in a work of art that

explain its ability to transcend the world of the personal and finite

into that of the transpersonal and infinite. Whether or not any sys-

tematic theory has adequately met the challenge of the formidable

nature of aesthetic theory is of no real consequence, however, when

dealing with an individual artist and the body of his work. Each

creative artist has his own private sensitivity and mode of dealing

with his material, and each seeks to answer questions about certain

basic problems of all mankind according to his own peculiar outlook.

The focus upon an individual artist's method of dealing with these

problems and on the problems themselves leads to an understanding of

a work beyond mere elementary impression. The degree of insight at

this level determines the reader's critical apprehension of a work as

a unique achievement and, in rare cases, as an artistic success.

Although many artists have written about their craft, only a

few have approached a systematic crystallization of their ideas and

attitudes. Creative artists are generally interested primarily in

that order of creativity which produces ideas in dramatic form rather

than articulation of these ideas as pure intellectual expression.

With few exceptions major writers have addressed themselves to the

subject of their craft at least fragmentarily both in and out of their

fictional compositions. Many times their commentaries are illuminat-

ing in relation to their own art and to art in general, and always

these expressions merit serious consideration.

In the works of Ernest Hemingway both the overt and implied

statements about art and aesthetic theory are fragmentary. As a

guide to the understanding of certain basic aesthetic techniques and

aims in the fiction, these revelations are not of less significance

because they are not systematized. On the contrary, a full under-

standing of Hemingway' s artistry may come about by an examination of

his fictional achievement in the light of his direct statements about

his art and its meaning. A focus on an artist's intent is not the sole

approach to an understanding of his work, for some authors have created

much that is beyond their own ken. Yet when the artist who has created

the works at hand states a conscious intent, his theorizing reveals the

major emphasis of his thought. It is from this perspective that a view

of some of Hemingway's attitudes toward his work should be approached.

Because of a certain penchant in the Hemingway personality a

difficulty arises in attempting to screen the serious from the ironic

in his statements about his craft. These utterances are hidden in a

wide variety of interviews that have been printed since he first

received public recognition. A number of recurring expressions and

attitudes merit serious consideration. His most important dicta are

in his two early non-fiction works, Death in the Afternoon and Green

Hills of Africa. Since these books take as their subjects bullfight-

ing and big game hunting, respectively, it is not to be expected that

any direct and systematic analysis of the artistic method is attempted

in them; yet it is apparent that the attitudes of Hemingway the bull-

fight aficionado and Hemingway the hunting enthusiast are never far

removed from those of Hemingway the author and aesthetician.

In both of the non-fiction works, using the analogy of a good

bullfighter or hunter as an ideal, Hemingway describes the attitudes

of a good writer. In this way he suggests that the prime target of

every writer ought to be the achievement of that degree of permanence

of which his art is capable. For Hemingway this victory can come only

to the writers of "classics." In the discussion of such writers he

reveals his own strivings and suggests the direction his own art was

to point: "A new classic does not bear any resemblance to the classics

that have preceded it. It can steal from anything that it is better

than, anything that is not classic, all classics do that. Some writers

are born only to help another writer to write one sentence. But it

cannot derive from or resemble a previous classic."1 Aside from the

obvious charge brought by Hemingway's detractors that such passages are

meant to remove some of the stigma from the attacks Gertrude Stein had

made for his borrowings from contemporaries, there is discernible here

an indication that a writer must have the same interest and intensity

of purpose that marks the great bullfighter and hunter. This opinion

is of significance, for such commentaries directly point to Hemingway's

conscious pursuit of a literary ideal.

A further reflection of this quest is exhibited in a passage

in which Hemingway discusses his own reaction to the works of Turgenev.

Describing the feeling of having been physically present in the real

and fictional places in the novels, Hemingway suggests that if one can

achieve such effects in art he will have realized perhaps the greatest

of all human desires--a kind of personal immortality: "A country,

finally, erodes and the dust blows away, the people all die and none

of them were of any importance permanently, except those who practised

IErnest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa (New York: Charles
Scribnerrs Sons, 1955), p. 21.

the arts. .. A thousand years makes economics silly and a work of

art endures forever."

In Death in the Afternoon, the earlier of the two non-fiction

works, Hemingway specifically reveals the origin of his purpose and

the apprenticeship that led to the final accomplishments of the later

works. In such direct accounts his early tendency toward seeking

"truth" in fiction is revealed: "I was trying to write then and I

found the greatest difficulty, aside from knowing truly what you

really felt, rather than what you were supposed to feel, and had been

taught to feel, was to put down what really happened in action; what

the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced."5

Although such articulations were responsible for the now shop-worn

commentaries about "the way it was," Hemingway is sincere and gives

serious importance to the necessity of translating the totality of real

life events into art. Always he emphasizes the need to capture the

essence of the varied complexities that go to make up real-life exper-

iences. These statements of purpose when fully examined reveal the

raison d'etre of Hemingway's art as well as his calculated goal of

experimentation with fictional techniques whereby the artistic reflec-

tion would legitimately shape the real life experiences into the mold

of art. Art for Hemingway is not a mere copy of life; rather, almost

2Ibid., p. 109.

3Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon (New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1954), p. 2.

in the sense of what Sidney demanded, it is that which seeks to incor-

porate those elements from experience that are "truer .. than any-

thing factual can be.4

The qualities than can be extracted from real life and united

with fictional forms are, for Hemingway, the basis of the aesthetic

posture of art as opposed to mere writing. Once the writer has found

the secret of creating in this fashion he will have approached the goal

that Hemingway indicates he had set for himself: finding "the real

thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion and which

would be as valid in a year or in ten years or, with luck and if you

stated it purely enough, alwiays."5 That is, permanence in art can be

achieved through such an aesthetic if the artist is "serious enough

and has luck" and can get beyond a flat, three dimensional imitation

of actuality into the sphere of the "fourth and fifth dimension" of

a pure art form,6

Such piecemeal commentaries scattered throughout his non-fic-

tional works illustrate Hemingway' s fundamental concern with an

aesthetic theory. They further illustrate his desire to free himself

from conventional techniques and forge a new and vibrant artistry in

his chosen craft. How well he succeeded may be seen only in an exam-

ination of some of the actual techniques he selected to attain his goal,

H~emingway, "Introduction, M~en at War (New York: Berkcley
Publishing Corp., 1958), p. 7.

5Hiemingway, Deathl4~ inthfternoon, p. 2.

6Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa, pp. 26-27.

In the attempt to get at the "truth" of real life experience

and to attain the ideal of writing a "classic" that he initially posed

for himself, Hemingway began in his early volumes of short stories to

describe the adventures of a boy on the threshold of manhood. As

Philip Young and Carlos Baker have pointed out in their studies,' half

of the stories of In Our Time (1925), the first short story collection,

are devoted to the development of Nick Adams. They are arranged chron-

ologically, moving from Nick's boyhood to his young manhood, and all

of these stories are thematically related. Several more stories about

the same character appear in the next two collections, Men Without

Women (1927) and Winner Take Nothing (1953). Of imnortance to the

whole of Hemingway's fiction is this early focus on a young hero, for,

if Philip Young is correct, this hero is to become the prototype

"Hemingway Hero" who later will have essentially the same background

that Nick has had through his childhood, adolescence, and young manhood.

More important than a mere similarity of background in the successive

protagonists is the resemblance they bear to each other psychologically,

since all are victims of the same plight that is the mark of twentieth-

century man and of all men of all thmes. Some become involved in war,

suffer wounds, and are forced to reconcile the psychological disturb-

ances created by these hurts. Others are forced to come to terms with

Philip Young, Ernest Hemingway, University of Minnesota
Pamphlets on American Writ~er-s~, No. 1 (Minneapolis University of
Minnesota Press, 1959), pp. 4 ff. Carlos Baker, Hemingway: the
Writer as Artist (Princeton: Princeton Universit r~e~sf~s, 156
pp. 127 ff. See also Philip Young, Ernest Hemingway (New York:
Rinehart and Co., Inc., 1952).

the reality of the traumata created by the pressures of a hostile

environment .

In Death in the Afternoon Hemingway refers to himself as a

naturalist of the kind that Thoreau was in his observations of nature.

The comparison is a good one, for both differ from the scientific

observer who focuses upon the botanical or zoological significance of

the external and material substances of the world. In his fiction,

Hemingway examines the effect upon the inner being of the traumata that

modern man has experienced in the world. This attempt to get beyond

surface manifestations alone and deal with more basic, primal contexts

led Hemingway to apply certain distinct, psychologically symbolic tech-

niques in his fiction. When these work for him, the entire tone and

texture of his prose comes to a close approximation of the "classic"

he has always tried to write.

At the outset, Hemingway gives N~ick Adams and the other protag-

onists a unique sensibility and an introspective or self-questioning

habit of mind. This technique is not a simple device of characteriza-

tion intended solely to illuminate the character's inner feelings;

rather, it is more expansive and is parallel to the questioning attitude

that heroes have exhibited in literature since Homer first shaped the

epic form. Homer forged into two epic works the whole Greek thought

and culture, and just as his heroes in their victories and defeats

represented the needs and drives and experiences of that culture, so

Hiemingway has for the twentieth century attempted to expand the sig-

nificance of the experiences of his protagonists into a range far

exceeding local and subjective considerations of ordinary fictional

conflict. In short, he has tried to write "classics" by capturing the

tone and tensions of his own culture.

As his organizing principle, Hemingway chose to depict a series

of heroes who get progressively older and experience both literally

and psychologically what all men of the twentieth century have experi-

enced over a period of almost fifty years. When these heroes seem

unusually introspective, and when the themes seem too narrow and local,

Hemingway may have failed as a craftsman, but he has not lost sight of

his ideals. Even in those works where he has been criticized most for

organizational failures, one step further in an over-all plan has been

developed. It is this plan to progressively view man's relationship to

his culture, to the other men in that culture, and ultimately to the

cosmos that Hemingway carefully develops throughout his short stories;

this pattern reveals some of the most significant features of his

thought .

In the short stories focusing on Nick Adams and in the other

short stories of the three collections, inner attitudes are external-

ized by means of symbolic reflection. These symbolizations manifest

themselves in a variety of conventional ways, but they also appear in

certain unique and quite unexpected combinations, Sometimes characters

represent particular attitudes, or episodes point up certain conflicts,

or it may be that a sequence of images is repeated a sufficient number

of times to create symbolic formations; many times there is a major,

controlling symbol from which all of the details take their meaning.

One of the most important symbolizations takes the form of a ritual-

ization of a familiar activity, thereby objectifying the intense strug-

gle of the characters in their attempt to find a solution to their inner

turmoil. In this way Hemingway maintains a studied control over his

material, and it is this careful control that forms a contrast to the

content. Ordered artistry is always juxtaposed to the chaos in which

most of the central characters find themselves.

In the development of Nick Adams as the leading protagonist

in the early short stories, Hemingway utilizes one of his most signif-

icant symbolic devices to project his themes. This is the ;journey

artifice, and in one sense all of Hemingway' s works employ some aspect

of this motif. The Hemingway hero may never bear much literal resem-

blance to Odysseus as a classical. hero, but his encounters with the

bitter but always illuminating experiences of life, and his journey

through life itself, are parallel to the classical journey motif.

Hemingway's use of this framework enables the thematic conflicts in

the stories to ramify beyond the immediate literal level of individual

and sociological considerations into the sphere of the primordial,

psychological conflicts of every man.

The intense inner conflicts of the Hemingway protagonist many

times are revealed directly by means of correlative mythological or

psychological symbols which parallel the surface action. It is here

that anyr study of the process of symbolization and its manifold asso-

ciative connotations should begin. Further, by examining Hemingway' s

symnbolism, the development of the hero and the accompanying, implied

theme of individuation may be seen from a perspective hitherto unin-


Most of the psychological and mythological symbolism that may

be analyzed in Hemingway's fiction can be associated with the journey

artifice. As a device it is as old as mankind. Evidence for this

motif has been found by anthropologists in the most primitive cultures,

and its use in the early epic formula is based on verbal and experien-

tial data that precedes man's ability to even articulate his problems.

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell gives a clear ac-

count of its sources and appearances. He describes the various phases

of the heroic journey as a traditional monomyth.

In the essential myth there are generally three dominant move-

ments which are cyclic in pattern. They are the departure of the hero,

the initiation, and the return from his heroic adventure. It cannot

be dogmatically stated that all heroes in fiction will follow the precise

and stereotyped pattern of the heroic journey down to the last detail;

yet they all do follow some aspect of at least one of the categories

described by Campbell. All of the stages need not be present, nor is

it the nature of the journey to discourage those who would take it.

Many works illustrate the initial refusal of the call to adventure, while

others depict protagonists who cannot overcome the obstacles inherent in

the initiatory rites of their culture. There are also accounts of those

BJoseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Bollingen,
XVII (New York: Pantheon Books, 1953).

heroes who have undertaken the journey and surmounted all obstacles

but who refuse to return to society with the light gained as a result

of the adventure. Whenever the hero does proceed through all the stages,

a more coherent and complete design is effected on the narrative level.

But what is more important is that as it attests to a unity of thematic

purpose on the underlying psychological and mythic level it also depicts

the fulfillment of the process of individuation.

It is, of course, difficult if not impossible to ascertain just

how much of Hemingwayi s use of the journey artifice and other manifes-

tations of psychological and mythological symbolism is conscious or

unconscious. Certain assumptions may be made as to the sources of this

material, no matter what its level of conscious utilization. Principally,

as a modern man living in the twentieth century, Hemingway would have

available all of the materials from the traditional sources of the culture.

This cultural inheritance alone can account for his knowledge of the

journey pattern. Whether he adapted it consciously or intuitively, he

almost certainly observed it in his reading.

As Campbell's description of the heroic journey as a monomyth

indicates, the motif has a variety of sources in the literatures of

many nations both ancient and modern. The Fisher King and Grail myths

provide some of the earliest sources for these patterns. In From Ritual

to Romance, Jesse Weston cites an example of the quest motif in one of

the early Fisher King stories, Sone de Nansait "To sum up the result

of the analysis .. that the story postulates a close connection be-

tween the vitality of a certain King, and the prosperity of his kingdom;

the forces of the ruler being weakened or destroyed, by wound, sickness,

old age, or death, the land becomes Waste, and the task of the hero is

that of restoration."9 Here the basic aspects of the artifice may be

seen, but the significance of the myth cannot be said to lie simply on

the surface of the story structure; rather, these myths are part of the

universal psychic patterns of all mankind. Carl G. Jung has discussed

this at length, and in a discussion of the poet's employment of myth,

he says: "It is to be expected of the poet that he will resort to

mythology in order to give his experience its most fitting expression.

.The primordial experience is the source of his creativeness;

it cannot be fathomed, and therefore requires mythological imagery to

give it form."1

Many more examples of hero myths can be found than those in

the early Grail and Fisher King stories. Greek and Roman literature

abounds with them and supplies some outstanding citations. For example,

Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece represents an illuminating

illustration of the traditional journey. The many trials and obstacles

Jason is forced to overcome closely parallel the initiation rites that

the Grail heroes must perform in their quest, Moreover, in the Theseus

story the escape from the Labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur furnishes

"Jessie L. Weston, From Ritual to Romance (New York: Peter
Smith, 1941), p. 21.

1Carl Gustav Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, trans.
W. S. Dell and Cary F. Bayne-s (New Yf~ork: Harcort, Bra and Co.,
Inc., 1948), p. 189.

a classic basis for the description of all subsequent symbolic journeys.

From this myth emerge the important images of the Labyrinth, the psychic

chaos from which all men must escape in order to obtain self-hood, and

the Minotaur, the psychic monster or other self which must be defeated

within the confines of a labyrinthian unconscious world.

Vergil' s hero, Aeneas, must take his ritual journey into the

underworld. There he must cross the threshold of the river of the

dead and pass by the ogre figure of the three-headed watchdog, Cerberus,

in order to talk with the ghost of his father. The boon for the hero

is the revelation of future events and an insight into methods of avoid-

ing pain in the world. He returns from the underworld and crosses the

return threshold of the "ivory gate," thus having symbolically attained

self-hood. In the Divine Comedy of Dante, the journey is similar to

that in the Aeneid. Dante must also cross the threshold of life and

pursue his quest through the underworld with Vergil as his guide. This

situation presents another figure to be found in the traditional jour-

ney, the classic guide. This all-important personage either leads the

hero or points the way toward the quest. Usually the guide has some

special aptitude for this function, such as having completed his own

journey, as Vergil has symbolically taken such a journey before Dante,

A further characteristic of the guide is his supernatural power, whether

given by some deity, as in the case of Vergil in the Divine Comedy, or

given by Satan, as in the case of Mephistopheles in the Faust legends.

The richest and most influential source of myth available to

all artists in Western culture is the Bible. Here there is an abundance

of allegorical and symbolical stories of heroic .journeys, from the

Noah story in Genesis, through the great exodus of the Hebrew nation

led by Moses, into the New Testament with the Christ story, and ending

with the mystic crossing from the conscious world into the visionary

world by St. John the Divine. All of these stories contain the essen-

tial elements of the symbolic journey, and they all contain the same

thematic patterns that occur in other myths of the hero.

These recurring patterns occur in many ancient and modern works,

and their complex meanings are often difficult to interpret. The most

enlightening comments in this connection have come from Jung, and his

is one of the major influences on that branch of literary criticism

which has emphasized the use of psychological, mythological, and

anthropological materials. In order to understand such an approach,

however, it is necessary first to consider several basic points of

Jungian theory, Only in this way do some of the seeming paradoxes

associated with the study of myth patterns and the comparative technique

itself become clear.

First of all, for Jung the "totality of all psychological pro-

cesses" of man is incorporated into what he terms the "psyche." Within

the psyche two spheres interact but have opposite properties. These

spheres are the "conscious" and the "unconscious." The first of these

for Jung is the activity which maintains the relation of the psychic

contents to the ego--that part of the psychic structure which confronts

the world. It is from these levels of consciousness that individuality

arises, and the essence of the process is adaptation. Immediately

below the conscious, in a figurative sense, lies the sphere of the

unconscious, which in turn is divided into two levels. The pesoa

unconscious contains the contents of the conscious which have been

forgotten or repressed but which can be raised to consciousness at any

time. The collective unconscious, whose contents relate to universality,

contains the elements that are not specific for the individual ego nor

resultant from personal acquisition.

Since the unconscious plays an important role in the structure

of the psyche, and, as Jung has said, since it acts in a compensatory

and complementary way with the conscious, it is primarily to this area

that one must turn to grasp the major portion of Jungian theory. Of

particular importance to the understanding of this role of the collec-

tive unconscious is Jung's concept of the archetype. The archetypes

are also of major concern to the comparative technique, for here the

basic patterns of images recurring throughout all literature may be


By wray of definition Jung states that "the human mind possesses

general and typical modes of functioning which correspond to the bio-

logical 'pattern of behavior.' These pre-existent patterns--the

archetypes--can easily produce in the most widely differing individ-

uals ideas or combinations of ideas that are practically identical,

and for whose origin no individual experience can be made responsible.,1

1Jung, Symbols of Transformation: an Analysis of the Prelude
to a Case at Schizophrenia, trans. R.F.C. Hull, The Collected Works of
C. G. Jung, No. 5 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1956), p. 177.

Being at one with humanity, the artist has then a common source

from which to draw his material. Jung further implies that the fictive

process is partly the drawing upon this material and combining it in

such a fashion that it becomes a coherent whole. In many ways this is

analogous to Freud's concept of "secondary elaboration" in relation

to dreamers. In that process, after condensation and displacement have

taken place, the dreamer tends to fill in the missing details from the

fragments of recalled dream images, thus giving the dream a logical

coherency.12 Similarly, for Jung, the artist does not actually create

material, for archetypal constructs are rarely altered; rather, in his

role of "camnbiner" the artist may be said to achieve new and unique

combinations, and it is this achievement that at least partially meas-

ures the extent of his creative ability.

Since these archetypal structures are the source of the artist's

materials, a brief view of their nature has some importance. First,

according to Jung, the language of the unconscious is a "picture lan-

guage," and the archetypes appear in a symbolized picture form. These

symbols, however, are not signs nor allegories; "they are images of

contents, which for the most part transcend consciousness."1 h

problem of interpretation then arises. Since the archetype owes its

existence to primal experience, and since the motives of archetypal

12See Erich Fromm, The Forgotten Lia~gnguag: Intodutio
to the Understanding of Dreams, Fairy Tales and Myths JNew York:
CUrove Press, inc., 1961), pp. 4/ 1.

1Jung, Synbols of Transformation, p. 77.

images are the same in all cultures, then it is through the myths of

these cultures that they can be understood. Actually, the number is

really small, since they correspond to the possibilities of typical

fundamental experiences of all men.

On this score, Jung says, "we are now in a position to establish

certain laws, or at any rate rules, which make dream interpretation

rather more certain. Thus we kn~ow that dreams generally compensate the

conscious situation, or supply what is lacking in it. This .. also

applies to myths. Furthermore, investigation of the products of the

unconscious yields recognizable traces of archetypal structures which

coincide with the myth-motifs, among them certain types which deserve

the name of dominants.,,14 Some of these dominants are: anima, animus,

wise old man, witch, shadow, and earth-mother. A knlowledge of these

types, Jung relates, facilitates myth interpretation by providing points

of orientation hitherto unknown.

Another facet of Jungian theory which is of major concern here

is the concept of individuation or self-realization. For Jung individ-

uation is the goal of all psychological and biological development.

This concept is of primary significance in its application to litera-

ture, and to Hemingway' s works in particular, for it is toward the

goal of individuation that the whole of the heroic cycle is pointed.

Every external conflict in which the Hemingway hero is found is in some

way related to the goal of wholeness, be it conscious or unconscious,

14bid., p. 390.

and the inability of most of the heroes to get beyond one or more of

the phases of the symbolic journey toward self-realization in a large

measure accounts for the mood of pessimism and the themes of alienation

that dominates many of the stories. With such an orientation one is

able to see the significance of many of the activities in which the hero

engages in order to dispel some of the pressures aroused by the environ-

ment in which he finds himself.

Any journey toward individuation is long and dangerous, accord-

ing to Jung, for it implies a direct encounter with unconscious forces.

Jung feels that modern man in Wlestern culture is little prepared for

such an arduous task and that precisely at this point the symptoms of

the plight of the contemporary world may be most clearly viewed. For

him, a decided "split" has occurred between man's conscious and uncon-

scious, causing an inner "war" to rage in normal men. The effects of

this split, he says, are apparent throughout society, and, as two world

wars attest, the danger of the unconscious and irrational getting the

upper hand is everpresent. The ideal is to effect a balance between

the conscious and unconscious, and this ideal is only likely to come

about through some transformative process: in this case, individuation.

Reconciliation of opposing forces is of great import in the

process of self-realization, since only in this way can harmony be

achieved and a dangerous imbalance avoided. Reconciliation, according

to Jung, can only be effected by assimilating the unconscious contents

to the conscious. The way, however, is not easy; ever present is the

danger of total disintegration and alienation rather than the desired

integration. Nevertheless, the individual willing to commit himself

may gain great rewards, for the whole of the experience will result in

an enlargement of the personality and will secure freedom from the

suggestive power of unconscious images.

The interaction of the contents of the unconscious and the

conscious is effected by symbols. They link and reconcile the seemingly

irreconcilable contradictions of the two opposites. These symbols fur-

ther mark the progress of the individuation process, and they are based

on definite and discernible archetypes. Their specific character will

vary and will take shape from the particular conscious situation of the

individual. They may be positive or negative, they may attract or

repel, but they always impose themselves in such a way that the indi-

vidual is forced to deal with them. After a certain stage has been

reached, uniting symnbols appear to point the way toward eventual inte-

gration of the self. These latter are the symbols which point toward

the center of the psyche, the self, and they often appear as figures

of gods, indestructible substances, or as abstract, geometrical designs.

Turning again to the relationship between the creative artist

and the collective unconscious, Jung has said of the artist's powers

to penetrate this realm of the irrational, "Yet, even in our midst,

the poet now and then catches sight of the figures that people the

night-world--the spirits, demons and gods. He kn~ows that a purposive-

ness out-reaching human ends is the life-giving secret for man..

In short, he sees something of that psychic world that strikes terror

into the heart of the savage and the barbarian."15

If the artist is such an individual who can view the "night-

world, and if his mode of expressing the primordial experience "re-

quires mythological imagery to give it form, "l6 then one might define

the peculiarities of myrth that make this possible in much the same

way as Susanne Langer has done: "Myth .. is a recognition of

natural conflicts, of hurran desire frustrated by non-human powers,

hostile oppression, or contrary desires; it is a story of the birth,

passion, and defeat by death which is man's common fate. Its ultimate

end is not wishful distortion of the world, but serious envisagement

of its fundamental truths; moral orientation, not escape."17l If in some

measure we accept the hypothesis upon which Langer's definition is

based, then it may be postulated that the artist, through the use of

image and symbol, couches these natural conflicts in the language of

myth and symbol on the underlying psychological level of his work.

All works of art have at least two broad areas of interpretation

and movement: the surface level, or outward movement with the literal

development of plot, and the psychological level or inner movement,

incorporating imagery and symbol as its primary means of expression.

In Hemingway's works the employment of the journey artifice provides

1Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p. 189.

1See fn. 10.

17Susanne K. Langer, Philosophy in a New Key: a Study in the
Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art (New York: Hentor Books, 194)
p. 45


an outstanding example of these two movements. In his use of the

artifice one may discern the employment of a surface narrative tech-

nique as his simple, mechanical method of furthering plot development,

but one may just as surely discover that the content of the works,

the more meaningful revelation, is far below the surface and lies in

the realm of symbolic allusion. This level points the way to signif-

icant thematic interpretation. From this perspective Hemingway' s

ability to fuse content with form demonstrates the high artistry of

his fiction.



Throughout Hemingway' s fiction there is a vital concern with

the roles that people are expected to play in the central drama of life.

This concern manifests itself in the short stories which deal with the

hero as a young boy. Principally it operates in what may be termed as

an expectancy versus fulfillment complex. That is, individuals have

certain notions derived from many sources about the way particularly

Important personages associated with their lives ought to act and what

they ought to be. Sometimes individuals measure up to the roles ex-

pected of them; most of the time they do not and can not. Hemingway' s

young characters are particularly sensitive at this point. When cer-

tain important personages fail to fulfill the expected role, the result

is an intense inner conflict within the young character, and the reso-

lution of this conflict provides the dynamics of the adjustment process

in the journey toward maturity.

In real-life situations the pattern of development is such that

the result of insight may be disillusionment. This mood may be tempor-

ary or it may be permanent, depending upon the particular circumstances

of the individual involved. For those who remain fixed at this point,

the goal of self-discovery is thwarted before the development has sub-

stantially begun. For those who glimpse the disillusionment implied

by a learning situation and elect to avoid it by reverting to a state

of infantile illusion where such knowledge Is unknown, the end result

is either fixation at that level or postponement of the inevitable. The

complexities of the world and the nature of experience rarely allow the

sensitive individual to remain secluded in infantilism for long, however,

and willingly or unwillingly the individual is eventually thrust into

the world of experience and forced to deal with it. If the individual

is willing to accept the lessons of experience and adapt himself to

contingencies over which he has little control, he can ultimately arrive

at the apotheosis of the journey through experience and achieve the

goal of individuation. If he cannot accept reality as it exists and

remains fixed at some lesser level, he becomes a victim of his own

disorientation and alienation from the processes of life around him.

The development of an individual begins in the nursery, where

he receives his earliest impressions of an external world. At this

stage he receives a lasting impression of the central figures who are

to care for him and guide him through the helpless stage into eventual

maturity. These figures are the mother and father, and the early im-

pressions of them within certain limitations reflect the extent of an

individual's experience with two basic archetypal constructs. These

are in their broader sense the mother and father images, and it is the

vital experience with them that an individual carries throughout life.

On one level an individual thereafter seeks to collate and adjust to

his initial experience in the cradle all future encounters with the

personifications of these mother and father archetypes--girl friend,

mistress, wife, on the one hand, and wise old man, healer, and hero

figures of all varieties on the other.1

One can only guess the extent of Hemingway's knowledge and

interest in analytical psychology as a discipline, but a study of his

treatment of a young boy as the central character in a number of his

short stories illustrates that underlying his artistry there is a per-

ceptive understanding of the machinations of the human mind. Taking

a character at an early age, he depicts his first insights into the

world of experience. Many times these insights are not pleasant for

the character, and many times he refuses to accept as real what he has

viewed. At other times the character will make some minor adjustment

to the experience which may not seem apparent on the literal level.

At any event, throughout the sequence of short stories treating the young

hero, Hemingway constellates the primal conflicts which all men through

all ages have experienced. As such, these stories illustrate Hemingway's

concern with and exploration of the elemental question: "What is the

nature of man's relationship to the cosmos?"

When Hemingway gave the hero of so many of his early stories

the name of "Nick Adams," he was doing more than designating a simple

appellation to stand for a character. Rather, he intentionally used

a charactonym as a conscious device to illustrate what the character

himself would reveal throughout every story in which he appeared.

1Here I follow Jung in a general way. With some difference
in terms, I believe most Freudians would find this compatible with
Freudian theory.

Yet the employment of such a device is not as simple and surface as it

may seem at first glance, for Hemingway is too much of the artist to

resort to the use of an unsophisticated allegoric device in its most

obvious form. Once viewed in relation to the thematic content of the

stories, the naming of the hero may be seen as full-blown character

taken to its furthest implication.

The surname is particularly appropriate inasmuch as Nick Adams

is in a very real sense an Adam Secundus. He is not in any literal

sense the progenitor of a whole race, but he does typify a whole race

of contemporary men who have encountered irrational elements in their

environment and have been forced to deal with them in one way or

another. In the stories in which Nick is depicted as a young boy,

he is the innocent, sine macula peccati, akin to the first Adam before

the Fall. But as in the biblical story, the state of innocence is

short-lived, and the serpent here too enters the "garden," In this

case, however, the entry is not a blatant caricature of the forces of

evil; it is the subtle coming of awareness of the incalculable events

that disturb the natural order of things, of the caprice in that dis-

turbance, and, what is more important, it is a coming of awareness of

the irrational forces that operate within the self.

Hemingway directly reinforces the implications of the name

"Adam" as incorporating the forces of evil and the chthonic by giving

his hero a first name that might easily be associated with "Old Nick"

or Satan, the archetype of evil. Having thus named his character,

Hemingway in one stroke characterizes the inherited tendencies of

all men. The tension created by the implications of the association of

these names is in itself archetypal in its suggestion of the eternal

struggle between the forces of good and evil. But evil comes in many

guises to the hero in the Hemingway stories, and it goes by many names,

be it a wound--literal or psychological--terror in the night, death, or

anything else; always, however, it is inescapable and unpredictable.

In many ways, it is this that the Hemingway hero must learn throughout

the stories, and the tension created by the struggle with opposing forces

provides the underlying dynamics for the learning process.

Experience itself may be one of the guises of contingent evil.

Just as surely as partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge pre-

cipitated the fall from grace of the first Adam, so for the innocent

the initial encounter with elements foreign to the womb-like existence

in the shelter of home and mother is the first stage of a long and

dangerous journey from which there can be no retreat without catastroph-

ic consequences. It may in some instances appear to the individual in-

volved that retreat or simple negation of the implications of the first

exposure to the apparent disparate experience is possible, but once ex-

posed the individual is automatically committed to the journey through

life by his own nature. To deny this is to postpone the inevitable

necessity of coming to terms with the totality of life processes and to

remain in the realm of infantile phantasy.

In the short story "Indian Camp," the first of the "Nick" stor-

ies of In Our Time, Hemingway illustrates the compelling tendency to

revert to the state of naive innocence once the first contact with

forces outside the protected environment has been made. Here Nick is

a young boy who accompanies his father, a doctor, to an Indian village

in northern Michigan where an Indian woman is to have a baby. Along

with Nick and his father is Uncle George, who, significantly, as may

be seen later, speaks only twice in the entire story. The outcome of

the story is that the doctor must deliver the baby by a Caesarian oper-

ation with a jack-kn~ife and without any anesthetic. The woman's husband

lies in a bunk overhead the whole while, suffering from a severe ax

wound. Apparently unable to tolerate the woman's screams, the husband

sometime during the delivery cuts his throat with a razor.

The surface plot of this story is of little consequence in

itself, however, for the major focus is upon Nick's reaction to the

events. The essential theme of the story and its emphasis upon Nick

becomes clearer when examined in light of the initiatory motif around

which the story is constructed, for it is only in this way that a

seemingly slight interlude with a bizarre ending is revealed as having

more than situational import. In this story Hemingway establishes a

controlling symbol, the Indian camp itself. Here as well as in other

stories the camp is suggestive of the dark side of life, the intrusive

and irrational. element that imposes itself upon the secure and rational

faculties where order and light prevail. For Nick, whose own home is

across the lake, the night journey to the camp has all the possibil-

ities of a learning experience. But he must be prepared to accept the

knowledge it can give him. As it turns out, Nick is incapable of accept-

ing the implications of the events he has witnessed and the initial

preview of the realities of the world is abortive.

Hemingway prepares the reader for the encounter with the dark

forces by employing details of setting suggestive of the mysterious and

other-worldly: "The two boats started off in the dark. Nick heard the

oarlocks of the other boat quite a way ahead of them in the mist. Th1e

Indians rowed with quick choppy strokes. Nick lay back with his father's

arm around him. It was cold on the water. The Indian who was rowing

them was working very hard, but the other boat moved further ahead in

the mist all the time."2] The classical parallel is too obvious to over-

look, for the two Indians function in a Charon-like fashion in trans-

porting Nick, his father, and his uncle from their ownl sophisticated

and civilized world of the white man into the dark and primitive world

of the camp. Hemingway also invokes a conscious contrast in his use of

another classical device, the guide figure. Here, the father takes

Nick along to the camp, and he protectively has his arm around Nick.

In the passage that follows, it is to his father that Nick directs the

meaningful question, another traditional device of the journey artifice:

"Wihere are we going, Dad?" The answer his father gives is indicative

of the protective parental mantle that refuses to allow the child to

directly face certain adult terrors. Rather than tell Mick outright,

the father-guide here attempts to diminish the import of the comingevent:

"Over to the Indian camp. There is an Indian lady very sick" (p. 91) .

2Hemingway, The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1954)i~i-i~7, p 9. it heexepin of "'Two Tales
of Darkness," all future references will be from this edition and will
be cited in the text.

The father as guide figure for the son is to this point of the

story a portrait of a natural and harmonious relationship, and these

two characters remain the central focus of the story. Yet Hemingway

has imposed the figures of the two Indians and Uncle George almost in

thumbnail sketch, and their function is important in the symbolic equa-

tion that is the basic form of the story. In crossing the lake to the

dark side, the Indians control the movement. Uncle George is the shadow

figure of the true guide, although Nick does not recognize this. Uncle

George is in the lead boat in the initial crossing, and smokes a cigar

and gives cigars to the two Indians, reminiscent of the smoking ritual

and symbolizing unity and harmony with the forces represented by the

Indians. Uncle George later becomes emotional over the events during

the delivery, thus signaling his further involvement. Moreover, Uncle

George's telling comment points up the ineptitude of the father as the

man of science and the representative of the rational and civilized

world in his dealings with those dark forces that lie outside his prov-

ince. This commentary occurs after the operation when, as the narrator

relates, the doctor "was feeling exalted and talkative as football

players are in the dressing room after a game." The doctor then com-

ments: "iThatis one for the medical journal, George,' he said. 'Doing

a Caesarian with a jack-knife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered

gut leaders."' With telling irony, Uncle George reveals all the inad-

equacies of the doctor in his naive attempt to impose order in a world

of disorder. He tells the doctor, "'Oh, you're a great man, all right'"

(p. 94) .

That the father as a man has not h'unself come to terms with the

irrational and uncontrollable forces at work is made obvious by his re-

action to the suicide of the Indian husband. Wh~en the delivery of the

child apparently is going well, the father--in the guise of doctor-

scientist--gives Nick a step by step account of its progress. At one

point he even tells Nick that the screams of the woman are not impor-

tant. The irony of such a statement becomes clear with the later sui-

cide because of the screams. Wrhen the doctor discovers the death of

the Indian, his control of the situation is lost and he is left with

"all his post-operative exhilaration gone." He tells Nick, "rit was

an awful mess to put you through" (p. 94). In this way the studied

control of the father as doctor and rational man disintegrates, and all

that is left is father as fallible man. In effect, the father has been

stripped of his own protective mask, the doctor-scientist persona, and

he is forced to deal with the situation as a man with an unmasked ego.

Hemingway has further imposed a significant aspect of the theme

of individuation. That is, the hero is constantly forced to adjust in

some manner to the prime manifestations of the irrational: pain and

death in the world. The two father figures here, the doctor and the

"wounded" Indian, are in apposition to each other, but each reacts in

a different way. Both are equally ineffectual, however, a fact which

illustrates their denial of that role. The Indian as a primitive has

no effective method of dealing with the terror created by the scream-

ing wife. On the other hand, as long as Nick's father is in the role

of doctor and performs the rituals assigned to the healer, he assumes

he can cope with and control the forces of life and death. When the

Indian denies his role and function as father by his suicide, the doc-

tor's role as healer is at the same time put in a ridiculous light.

Thus Hemingway illustrates the absurdity of man, in any guise, in his

attempt to control those things which are not in his power.

The figure of Uncle George as a foil to the doctor is further

exhibited in relation to the guise of the father as healer and man of

science. During the delivery when the doctor apparently has the situa-

tion under complete control, Uncle George is bitten by the woman while

trying to hold her down. His response, "'Damn squaw bitch,'" an emo-

tional and uncontrolled one, signifies his ability to respond naturally

to pain. The doctor, in that role, affects an air of detachment in

direct opposition to the responses of the uncle. With the suicide later,

the obvious point of the unreality of such a pose is made.

With the failure of the father to sustain the expected role,

Nick himself reverts to a role of infantile dependence. At the end of

the story, when Nick and his father row back to the other side of the

lake alone and Nick questions his father about the implications of the

events of the night, the regression is pointed up by the fact that N~ick

addresses his father as "Daddy" instead of "Dad" as he had at the begin-

ning. The most telling revelation of the abortive nature of the whole

learning situation comes when Nick asks, "'Is dying hard, Daddy? "

Having witnessed the bizarre events at the camp, the question reflects

Nick's complete inability to grasp the significance of his exposure to

pain and death. Further, by slipping back into the role of the

inexperienced one, Nick thus effects a reconstruction of the father.

Both the denial of the experience--or admission of his insensitivity

to it--and the attempt to recreate the father as man into the infantile

father-imago likeness are sublimated at this point.

Nick' s refusal to accept the terrors of pain and death, and the

father's inability to cope with them, is revealed in an ironic light in

the conclusion: "In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern

of the boat with his father rowing, he [Nick] felt quite sure that he

would never die" (p.95). But Nick has been exposed to some of the pri-

mal terrors of human experience, and his "feeling" is depicted as illu-

sory and child-like in the romantic reaction to the experience he has

undergone. The irony enters in the portrait of the young Nick "sitting

in the stern, implying that he is in control of the boat--events; yet

it is the father who rows, and he has already proven ineffectual for

such a role. The details of setting further point up the irony, for

"the sun was coming up over the hills." In contrast with the events of

the night the sun may seem to dispel darkn~ess, but at the same time it

also foreshadows the coming of night again. Nick's feeling is not a very

strong indicator of coming events.

In "The Doctor and the Doctoris Wife," the second of the "Nick"

stories of In Our Time, the controlling symbol is once again that of

the Indian camp. Here, however, instead of a journey to the camp and

all of the psychological implications of such a journey, representatives

of the camp are summoned across the lake to participate in the sophis-

ticated and civilized world of Nick and his father. Again the locale is

northern Michigan, and the fact that it is the edge of a wildernesss

gives the setting a significance beyond mere backdrop. In this border

zone area, symbolically a meeting place of two opposing forces, Nick

as the young inexperienced one will undergo the initiatory rites which

will eventually project him into the role of young manhood. This site

is the ground of home and parental protection, and here the eventual

severance from this influence must be won. These functions are not

separate and distinct, for on the journey toward individuation the

encounter with the dark powers can only come after complete detachment

from all of the infantile regressive tendencies has been accomplished.

Nick as yet is unequipped to undertake the complete journey to-

ward individuation, but the repeated experience with stark reality and

the cumulative effects of such experience eventually project him into

the greater effort. "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," whose title

reveals the surface conflict, posits the two diverging axes of the

archetypal nursery drama. The central conflict of the story reveals

a further step in the learning process that Nick undergoes in this

sequence of stories.

The story narrates a short altercation that takes place between

Nick's father and Dick Boulton, a halfbreed from the Indian camp, over

whether or not some beech logs washed ashore from a log boom are to be

regarded as stolen, as Boulton contends, or as driftwood, as Nick's

father assumes. The moral question has some importance, although

Hemingway gives it a secondary place in the story. No one knows whether

the steamer crew will ever return to claim the logs. After Boulton,

his son, and another Indian leave without cutting the logs for the

doctor, the original purpose for which they had come, the doctor with

some restraint tells his wife of the argument and then leaves to go hunt-

ing with Nick.

Dick Boulton as a halfbreed symbolically incorporates the feat-

ures and powers of both the white man and the Indian, the light and the

dark, the knlown and the unknown. In effect he is a border zone figure

and has available knowledge that is denied those who are committed to

one or the other of the opposing regions. As such, in this story he is

a herald figure who by precipitating the destruction of the father fig-

ure is sounding the call to adventure for Nick. The adventure in this

instance may be no more than Nick' s slow movement from childhood to

adolescence, but at any event it is the call to take the first step

toward the greater journey--the journey into self-hood.

The ringing irony of Boulton's function in the story is that it

is the doctor himself who summons this figure from out of the dark land

of the Indian camp. In this way the doctor contributes to his own down-

fall in the eyes of his son. Further, Hemingway intensifies the irony

of the situation by interposing the moral question of whether or not the

logs are stolen. The doctor, as a representative of the society of

which Nick will become a part, and as a supporter of the ethical code

to which that society adheres, is defeated on a question of moral im-

port by a representative of a supposed lower and more primitive level

of culture. Thus not only is the father figure denigrated in Nlick's

eyes but also the very moral framework of his entire society is under-


The argument scene with Boulton is not the central focus of the

story, although it does serve as the catalyst for the ensuing albeit

inapparent nursery drama. This drama as such implies the triadic con-

flict of the child versus both parents in his desire to free himself

from parental domination and achieve autonomy. Hemingway depicts the

effects of this conflict in the second major scene of the story in an

exchange between the doctor and his wife, and in the final scene in an

exchange between the doctor and Nick.

In the second scene Hemingway emphasizes the conflict and points

up the breech between the two parents by injecting an additional irony.

The father as doctor, scientist, or representative of the rational order

of things is juxtaposed to the mother, who is a Christian Scientist.

The irony in the utter divergence of thought between the two is brought

into sharp focus when the doctor returns to the house and tersely tells

his wife that he has had a row with Boulton.

'Oh,' said his wife. 'I hope you didn't lose your temper, Henry.'
'No,' said the doctor.
'Remember, that he who ruleth his spirit is greater than he
that taketh a city,' said his wife. She was a Christian Scientist.
Her Bible, her copy of Science and Health and her Quarterly were on
a table beside her bed in the darkened room.
Her husband did not answer. He was sitting on his bed now,
cleaning a shotgun. He pushed the magazine full of the heavy
yellow shells and pumped them out again. They were scattered
on the bed. (pp. 101-102)

Other than the obvious irony of a physician's wife belonging to a

religious sect which denies the necessity of his professional function,

there are several other levels of consideration here. Th~e reason for

the mother's lying in a darkened room in broad daylight is not given,

but the implication is that she is ill, a fact which further heightens

the surface irony. Iv1ether or not this is the case, however, the detail

serves to illustrate that she is ineffectual in her role as wife and

mother and even as a social entity. As mother-preserver and protectress

of the innocent, she is portrayed here symbolically as languishing in

the womb-like province of her darkened room. As such, she is at once

the fatal or terrible mother figure who would lure her son back to the

womb to be smothered by her protective nature. Thus she would destroy

any possibility of the son ever reaching the goal of self-realization.

In classical literature this feature of the mother archetype is often

depicted by the sirens who lure sailors from their natural course. The

results are identical with the psychological implications for those who

succumb to the call: death upon the rocks. The potion of the mother

here which, like Circe, would turn her men into swine is the opiate of

her romantic refusal to accept the realities of life. When the doctor

tells her he believes Boulton started the argument in order to avoid

paying a past bill, she responds unrealistically, "'Dear, I don't think,

I really don't think any one would really do a thing like that'" (p. 102).

The lure of this wooing mother figure provides one axis--escape to the

womb--of the underlying conflict inherent in the nursery drama.

Hemingway distinctly delineates the abode of the mother and

the region of the father by drawing attention to the psychological

schism with particular literal details as well as symbolic allusion.

After the conversation between the mother and father in which it is

obvious that they are at odds, the narrator relates: "The doctor went

out on the porch. The screen door slammed behind him. He heard his

wife catch her breath when the door slammed. 'Sorry,' he said, outside

her window with the blinds drawn. 'It's all right dear,' she said"

(pp. 102-105). The flat, inexpressive quality implied by the tone of

the dialogue suggests in itself that all is not "all right" between the

doctor and his wife; secondly, the fact that the doctor is "outside her

window with the blinds drawn" symbolically illustrates the alienation of

the father from the womb and the consequent reflection back to the mother-

son-father triadic conflict. Thus the divergent axis of the function

of the father in the drama is illustrated. As guide for the son, the

role of the father is to provide the impetus for the son's projection

beyond the protective presence of the womb into the journey which, in

essence, must emulate that which the father himself has taken.

Nick' s involvement in this interlude is first apparent when

the mother tells the doctor, "'If you see Nick, dear, will you tell

him his mother wants to see him (p. 105). The fact that Hemingway

has her refer to herself in the third person immediately reflects a

peculiarity in her personality, quite literally, as well as a more

serious psychological aberration. In effect, thinking of herself as

a separate entity from the "I" which is speaking accomplishes a deper-

sonalization of her own ego which is illustrative of her complete separ-

ation from the world of reality. It further suggests a desire to

divorce herself from the role of mother, and, on the psychological

level, allows her to reconcile the role of siren-mother to that which

she is conscious of being assigned by the culture of which she is a

part. Thus her role of mother as preserver and protectress and mother

as mistress and siren is made evident by the suggestive imagery and

dialogue. Nick's task is to escape from the temptress who threatens

his development into maturity. He does this. At the end of the story

with his denial of the mother, she becomes the image of frustration and

unrelatedness, wasting away in isolation and solitude. Hemingway thus

correlates her role as temptress-mother with her religious affiliation,

neither of which are depicted as valid for the hero in his epic struggle.

For Nick, standing on the threshold of adolescence and as yet

unable to make any significant break from parental domination, the

possibilities of reconciling what he has witnessed are small. Yet in

the final scene, he does come to terms with the situation. Finding Nick

sitting under a tree, reading--an escape--the father tells him: "'Your

mother wants you to come and see her."' But Nick rejects, "'I want to

go with you,'" and takes the first step by denying escape through mother

while at the same time attempting to reconstruct the father image.

There is a tinge of irony here, though, for in the exchange that follows

Nick is at once deferential, "Daddy," and at the same time commanding:

"'I know where there's black squirrels, Daddy,' Nick said, 'All1 right,'

said his father. 'Let's go there"n (p. 103). In this way Hemingway

illustrates the effect of the total experience upon Nick, for in a sense

Nick has usurped the function of the father in his attempt to recon-

struct him. Now it is Nick who is to be the guide, and significantly

it is to the woods that they are to go. Symbolically, the journey is

toward experience, not retreat to the womb of mother, and this is in

effect a completion of the symbolic equation posited at the beginning

of the story with Boulton sounding the call of adventure for Nick.

The woods are illustrative of the dark qualities represented by the

Indian herald figure, and it is into the woods that Nick is to lead

the fallible father figure in order to restore him.

These early stories preface to a considerable extent many of

the activities in which the hero of the Hemingway stories engages.

In the guise of Nick Adams--the new Adam--and others, the hero must

learn to adjust to the operation of contingent evil in the universe,

to reconcile that evil, and eventually to create for himself a new

moral center in harmony with his own innermost drives. As both of

these early stories illustrate, the tremendous task of discovery, self-

discovery, finally requires the loss of all former attachments that

indicate infantile dependence and a progressive discovery of some aspect

of the self. In effect, the hero must divest himself of all former

ideals along with his former self. Wh~at must follow is the creation of

a new self, and the Hemingway hero learns the difficulty of this task,

as all former heroes in literature have learned before him.

In "Indian Camp" and in "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife,"

Nick is depicted as a young boy on the threshold of adolescence, and

his actions and responses are unemotive and childlike. He reacts rather

than acts in a given situation, and his initiatory experiences are

almost a via negative. Again, this is typical of the young innocent

about to begin the greater journey, but that journey is one that re-

quires a positive commitment to an essentially moral purpose, and it is

toward this end that Nick must move. In the third story of the Nick

sequence--and it is evident that there is a sequence--the title serves

as a rubric to the surface plot as well as to the underlying psycholog-

ical level of the story. "The End of Something" not only indicates

that this is to be a story of termination, but it also poses a question

as to the nature of the "Something."

The story is about Nick and a girl friend, Marjorie, and relates

the events of a night fishing trip the two have taken. Nick has appar-

ently planned in advance that this is to be the finale of their romantic

interlude, for after preparing for the nights fishing and making camp

he tells Marjorie that "It isn't fun anymore." Marjiorie leaves him,

terminating the affair, and Nick's friend Bill arrives as part of the

pre-arranged plan. The story closes with a tinge of irony, for Nick

evidently feels bad about the whole episode.

'Did she go all right?' Bill said.
r Yes, a Nick said, lying, his face on the blanket.
'Have a scene?'
'No, there wasn t anyr scene.'
rHow do you feel?'
Oh, go away, Bill i Go away for a while. '
Bill selected a sandwich from the lunch basket and walked
over to have a look at the rods. (p. 111)

In the final portion of this story it becomes clear that a

definite progression has been accomplished in the development of Nick

Adams from child to adolescent, for with the exhibition of his inner

feelings he has at the same time revealed his sensibility. No longer

is he girded in the armor of protective infantile illusion and detach-

ment; now he takes a positive course of action, and it is he alone who

must bear the brunt of its consequences. What is equally important,

the course of action he has elected to follow is one that will

ultimately alienate him from all external aid. The "Something" that

has come to an end is at one level his belief in the efficacy of roman-

tic illusion, for Hemingway has in this story evolved a symbolic equation

in which the whole of the landscape, the ma-jor characters, and the over-

riding symbol of darkness all point to the termination of an old habit

of mind.

The pattern which Hemingway chose to depict Nick' s emotive

display of sensibility as a step toward learning is in itself a sig-

nificant illustration of his artistry. Initially he prefaces the

actual story involving Nick with a correlative parable of exploitation

and waste that, in an emblematic fashion, foreshadows the whole of the

coming story. In order to properly view the relationship of this par-

able with the story itself, it is necessary to quote it in its entirety.

In the old days Hortons Bay was a lumbering town. No one who
lived in it was out of sound of the big saws in the mill by the
lake. Then one year there were no more logs to make lumber. The
lumber schooners came into the bay and were loaded with the out
of the mill that stood stacked in the yard. All the piles of
lumber were carried away. The big mill building had all its ma-
chinery that was removable taken out and hoisted on board one of
the schooners by the men who had worked in the mill. The schooner
moved out of the bay toward the open lake carrying the two great
saws, the travelling carriage that hurled the logs against the
revolving, circular saws and all the rollers, wheels, belts and iron
piled on a hull-deep load of lumber. Its open hold covered writh
canvas and lashed tight, the sails of the schooner filled and it
moved out into the open lake, carrying with it everything that had
made the mill a mill and Hortons Bay a town. (p. 107)

This initial vignette prefigures Nick's coming separation from Marjorie.

The exception is that as a man Nick cannot so easily escape the conse-

quences of his acts as could the lumber company. To be noted is the

use of the traditional story-of-the-land device both as emblem and as

a simple method of establishing the mood of the story. The device has

a further importance in relation to the body of Hemingway' s fiction,

for in its more refined form it appears many times, notably in the open-

ing chapter of A Farewell to Arms where it is more precisely interpolated

with the ensuing action.

As the story unfolds, the significance of the appended parable

and its relation to the dominant motif of the cycle of existence becomes

apparent. We are told that "ten years later there was nothing of the

mill left except broken white limestone of its foundations showing through

the swampy second growth as Nick and Marjorie rowed along the shore"

(p. 107). The image of "second growth" is repeated throughout the story

and as a collective image it manifests a symbolic reflection of the

pair of young lovers. They too are second growth, as it were, and as

such they are participants in the great cycle of existence. As the

emblent of the story indicates, the cycle implies a death and waste in

the existing order of things before a renewal may occur. Nick's coming

of awareness is equated with the loss of the mill. That is, the taking

away of the vital machinery that "made the mill a mill," symbolizes

Mick' s loss of belief in the ordered machinations of his childish uni-

verse. The loss he is to suffer is parallel to the loss of the town.

What will remain will be only the marks upon his sensibility, as the

only sign of the mill and town that remain are the marks upon the

countryside .

Marjorie is unaware of the awakening of consciousness in Nick.

As they pass points in the landscape which to her are indicative of the

romance of life, Nick views them in the light of his newly found sensi-

bility. She sees the remnants of the mill as "'our old ruin,'" or later,

"IIt seems more like a castle.'" Nick either gives a matter of fact

reply or does not answer to these emotionally toned words. Again, when

Nick tells her, "'It isn't fun anymore,"' Marjorie still clings to the

illusion: "'Isn't love any fun?s" Nick's response seemingly reflects

an adolescent inability to articulate his inner feelings, but the irony

of the term "fun" is apparent. Nick as child-initiate is ego-centered

and it is from this too which he must dissociate himself in order to

participate in the activities of an adult world. In the conclusion,

when Nick displays his hurt over the separation from Marjorie, he at

the same time indicates the lesson the experience has taught him: it

isnat any fun without Marjorie either. Hemingway so constructs the

plot that the conclusion reflects back to the correlative parable in

the introduction. That is, Nick cannot neatly pack everything up and

sail off onto the lake as the schooner had done, for the experience

has left an emotional scar not easily healed.

Thle awakening of Nick' s sensibility in this story and his

learning that emotional attachments are not easily severed foreshadows

the thin-skinned sensitivity to hurt that the later heroes exhibit.

Every myth of the hero begins with these calls to adventure, be they

a precise herald figure, vague yearnings within the individual, or

simply an emotional crisis. Regardless of the mode in which this call

manifests itself, however, the pre-journey conditions are present and

provide the apparent motivation for the hero figure. Always behind the

surface circumstance there lies the inward sphere of the hero' s con-

sciousness where a moral conflict must stir, and the outward circum-

stances serve as a catalyst to activate the hero's desire for the quest.

In these early stories, when the young Nick is emotionally disturbed

by his treatment of another individual, the first stirring arise within

him of a moral sense.

"The Three Day Blow" is the fourth in the sequence, and it

considerably expands the characterization of Nick. At the same time it

illustrates a backwash in Nick' s development as the hero in quest of

self realization. In this story Hemingway depicts a boastful, adolescent

Nick. By his actions and attitudes, Nick denies the importance of the

initiation into the evils of the world encountered in "Indian Camp," the

destruction of the father figure that occurs in "The Doctor and the

Doctor's Wife," and finally the insight gained into the cycle of exist-

ence in "The End of Something." The story may be said to be in a very

real sense a story of recapitulation. It is not only a direct comple-

ment to "The End of Something," but also it refers in the attitudes

expressed by Nick to the earlier stories.

Th~is story is complementary to "The End of Something" in that

it takes place not long after the events depicted in the earlier story

and illustrates Nick's reaction to those events. Essentially it is an

adjustment story and relates Nick's coming to Bill's cabin, their talk

of baseball, literature, and Nick's affair with Marjorie. At the con-

clusion, having first decided to get drunk, then having decided not to

get drunk, they go out to find Bill's father and to hunt. The surface

line of action is obviously scant, but that is of little significance.

What is important is th^e revelation of Nick's attitudes toward the

experiences he has encountered and toward life in general.

At the psychological level something quite di'ferent is ex-

pressed from what at first glance seems obvious at the literal level.

Nick here engages in a fantasy of infantile regression and escape within

that regression. This tendency is not unusual in any journey toward

discovery of the self, for the implications of experience with the

forces beyond the control of the individual are terrifying. No one

obviously would choose to destroy himself--an act which is what the

discovery of the self implies--unless under the severest provocation.

Thus it is that all heroes who set out on this journey have at some

point faltered on the way, and Nick Adams is no exception.

In the opening of the story, Hemingway resorts to an express-

ionistic device in order to externalize the inner attitudes of his

central character. It is autumn, the fruit has been picked, and the

wind is blowing through bare trees. Nick picks up a fallen apple

"shiny in the brown grass from the rain." Next he views the idyllic

scene into which he is to retreat: "The road came out of the orchard

on the top of the bill. There was the cottage, the porch bare, smoke

combig from the chimney. In back was the garage, the chicken coop and

the second growth timber like a hedge against the woods behind." Still,

reflected against this idyll there are signs and portents of nature

which point to something other than a retreat for N~ick from his inner

disturbance over the Marjorie affair: "The big trees swayed far over

in the wind as he watched. It was the first of the autumn storms"

(p 1).Nature itself indicates that severance, though it may be

transient--as are the seasons of nature--it is also cyclic. For Nick

this implies that the episode with Marjorie is only one of many coming

hurts that as a man and part of this cycle he will have to undergo.

What is more important to the underlying psychological level

of Nick's development is his turning to a number of escape mechaninsts

to compensate for his inner frustration or guilt feeling created by his

severance from Marjorie. With Bill he indulges in "sophisticated" adult

talk of baseball, literature, the quality of the liquor which they

drink in abundance, and finally the affair with Marjorie. Throughout

this exchange it is always apparent that Nick has progressed to a

level of maturity beyond Bill. Nick has experienced an emotional hurt,

and he exhibits the knowledge he has gained because of it. When they

are discussing a book called Forest Lovers, an obviously romantically

sentimental piece, Bill suggests that it is a good book. Nick, on the

other hand, in a passage reminiscent of Huck' s attitude toward Tom

Sawyer's pirate books in The Adventuresof Hckleberry Finn evinces a

more realistic attitude:

'What else you got I haven't read?' Nick asked.
'Did you ever read the Forest Lovers?'
'Yup. That's the one where they go to bed every night with
the naked sword between them.'
'That's a good book, Wemedge.'
'It's a swell book. What I couldn't ever understand was
what good the sword would do. It would have to stay edge up
all the time because if it went over flat you could roll right
over it and it wouldn't make any trouble.'
It' sa symbol, Bill said.
'Sure,r said Nick, 'but it isn't practical.' (p. 118)

Bill's reference to Nick as "Wemedge" reflects the typical adolescent

posture in its attempt to appear "sophisticated," Rather than depict-

ing poise, however, it pointedly illustrates an adolescent habit of

mind. Nick's "practical" bent, on the other hand, portrays an awakened

mode of thought.

The pivotal point in the narrative comes when the conversation

turns to Marjorie.

'All of a sudden it was over,' Nick said. 'I oughtn't to
talk about it.'
'You aren't,' Bill said. 'I talked about it and now Irm through,
We won't ever speak about it again. You don't want to think about
it. You might get back into it again.'
Nick had not thought about that. It had seemed so absolute.
Thnat was a thought. That made him feel better.
'Sure,' he said. 'There's always that danger.
He felt happy now. There was not anything that was irrevocable.
He might go into town Saturday night. Today was Thursday,
tThere's always the chance,' he said. (p. 124)

Here Hemingway concisely telescopes the optimism that a youghful hero

may hold. To deny the positive insight that a vital experience has

provided is in effect to regress. When Nick thinks that "nothing was

finished" and that "nothing was ever lost," he reverts to the infantile

and illusory attitudes expressed in "Indian Camp," where he felt he

could "live forever." This is not adjustment to the experience--a nec-

essary step toward development; it is rather a denial of the implications

of that experience. Poised on the threshold of illumination, Nick takes

a step backward. He is not capable of crossing the threshold into more

vital experiences as yet.

Having sidestepped the too dangerous movement forward in his

own development toward maturity, Nick further exhibits the regressive

tendencies invoked at the moment of crisis. He and Bill feel "swell,"

and they decide to seek the comfort of adolescent excitement by going

out to hunt. They are not to go alone, however, for they are going to

seek Bill's father, who is already out hunting. Nick in effect seeks

the security of a surrogate father-hero--Bill' s father--and once again

turns to the comfort and security of the protective parental mantle.

Hemingway supports this type of interpretation by so imposing

details of external nature that it is obvious they are complementary

to the central theme of the story. Nick's denial that anything can be

undone--"Yiou can go home again," to distort Wolfe's phrase--is a denial

of the lesson nature teaches. Although the changes of external nature

are cyclic and seem to indicate that spring is not far behind winter,

still to not realize that these are small cycles in the midst of a

greater cosmic cycle of things where change is the very essence is to

misinterpret. Nick here too is guilty, for in the end of the story he

is poised at the peak of his infantile optimism: "None of it was im-

portant now. The wind blew it out of his head. Still he could always

go into town Saturday night. It was a good thing to have in reserve"

(p. 125) .

Hemingway apparently was keenly aware of and much interested

in the inability of youth to accept the reality of a given situation.

In all of these early stories, even though an external narrator relates

the events, it is the youthful Mick's sensibility that is always the

central focus. This was no doubt a conscious focus on Hemingwayrs part

in the construction of the stories, for the tone that dominates these

narratives if not sympathetic is at least not one of condemnation.

The stories deal with a segment of real-life experiences, and the expo-

sure to the variety of forces which operate in the world and over which

man has no control point to an appreciable concern over the relationship

of all men to an external world not of their making. The fact that

many of the stories are complementary to each other, as in the Nick

sequence, illustrates not so much Hemingwayis principal concern with

one generic hero as it does with his intense concern to explore the

various psychological implications of the first, almost primal exper-

iences wsith life.

In the short story, "Ten Indians," which appeared in a later

volume than did the early Nick stories, Hemingway again returns to the

theme that youthful hurts are transient events in the eyes of those who

experience them. The story, a complement to nThe End of Something," in

a sense, has Nick receive the shock of a forced separation from his

girl friend. Thne treatment here is somewhat different, for the whole

story is a study in comic irony. At the outset Mick is returning in a

wagon with some neighbors frcom town, where they have been to a Fourth

of July celebration. En route they have seen nine drunken Indians

lying beside the road. After arriving home, Nick is told by his

father that while walking near the Indian camp he saw Nick's girl,

Prudence Mitchell, an Indian girl, "threshing around" with another boy.

The effect that this has upon Nick is the point of the story.

The comic play of the "Ten Indians" in the title is apparent.

Prudence is the tenth Indian, and the irony evolves from the ride home

with the derogatory remarks made by one of the boys about Indians.

Nick is also teased about the girl, and "felt happy and hollow inside

himself to be teased about Prudence Mitchell." Further irony is

apparent in the girl' s name, for she is anything but prudent. Also,

her name is no more suggestive of her race than of her character.

That it is the Fourth of July, Independence Day, being celebrated adds

additional irony to the ending, for it is Nick's day of independence,

although a freedom of an unwanted sort comes to him.

The tone of this tale makes it impossible to interpret the

"hurt" Nick receives from the affair in any fashion other than that

it is bathetic. Hemingway pushes this bathos to the limit when in the

end Nick lies in bed and reflects: "'My heart's broken,s he thought.

LIf I feel this way my heart must be broken"' (p. 336). Yet in spite

of the treatment, Hemingway still has a more serious point to make than

a mere parody of infantile suffering. In the very next passage, the

tone shifts and the story concludes on a note of seriousness.

After a while he heard his father blow out the lamp and go
into his own room. He heard a wind come up in the trees outside
and felt it come in cool through the screen. He lay for a long time
with his face in the pillow, and after a while he forgot to think
about Prudence and finally he went to sleep. When he awoke in
the night he heard the wind in the hemlock trees outside the
cottage and the waves on the lake coming in on the shore, and he
went back to sleep. In the morning there was a big wind blowing
and the waves were running high up on the beach and he was awake
a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken.
(p. 336)

Again, in this final passage, we see Hemingway resorting to images of

nature in order to formulate by symbolic means a correlative in nature

for the transformative or adaptive process taking place in his central

character. Here too, as in "The Three Day Blow," a purificatory wind

signals the cleansing and passing away of old hurts. Yet here too it

is still part of a "storm," and the waves "running high" on the beach

signal a coming psychological storm as well as a natural one. If Nick

has the illusion that he has passed the crisis and that hurt has passed

out of his life forever, he is belied in the final lines. Invoking an

echo of the comic irony sustained throughout the piece, Hemingway

leaves no doubt of the transitory extent of Nick's "adaptation;" and

when Nick is "awake a long time before he remembered that his heart

was broken," he reflects a childish denial of the efficacy of the ex-

perience as a step towards maturation.

Quite important in this story as well as in the early Nick

stories is the relationship between Nick and his father. Here it is

the father who directly confronts the hero with the bitter realities

of the adult or mature world. Functioning in this fashion, the father

performs his natural duty as guide for the infantile son who has been

living in a world of childish romance. In that world everything is

comic, in the broader sense of the term, but in the adult world one

cannot escape from the hurts that are to come, The tenth Indian in

this case is the one who is to force home the consciousness of a dark

world of uncertainty.

Nick' s father in this story performs a further function which

heightens the ambiguity of the role of the guide figure. He ministers

to Nick's needs--feeds him--in a motherly fashion, but he also delivers

the hurt. Thus Hemingwray establishes one more facet of the complex

of father images that appear throughout the short stories. This father

function is not unexpected, for in treating the themes of initiation and

individuation the father figure is of central importance. In the tra-

dition that has its roots in the nursery drama, the father figure is

both helpful and dangerous. His prupose is to help the hero on in his

journey into maturation, while at the same time prohibiting him frorm

regressing into the nursery state. Once the process of maturation has

begun it cannot be retarded for long, as illustrated in "Wiine of Wyo-

ming." There the son of Fantan, a Frenchman, worries about looking

his age, for then he will have to pay for an adult ticket to the movie

theater: "sWhen I go to the show I crouch down like this and try to

look smallr" (p. 453). He is equally worried about gaining his manhood,

and this is illustrated by his wish to hunt alone. Yet he still reads

childish adventure books, signaling his inability to as yet complete

the process of maturation: "'sI want to go in all by myself and shoot

all by myself. Next year I can do it.' He went over in a corner and

sat down to read a book. I had picked it up when we came into the

kitchen to sit after supper. It was a library book--Frank on a Gun-

boat" (p. 456).

In another of the later short stories, "A Day's W'ait,"

Hemingway depicts the father-son relationship in the coming-of-age

cycle. The tour de force on which the plot hinges amply illustrates

the suddenness of adaptation to the trauma of reality. The boy in this

case has the name Schatz, and although seemingly made of sterner stuff

he could still be a Nick Adams in his coming to awareness. In this

instance, the boy is slightly ill with a fever, and, due to a confusion

of the terms Fahrenheit and centigrade, he believes he is to die with

a temperature of a hundred and two. For a full day he lives with this

in mind, and the point of the story concerns itself with his reaction

to this misconception.

In his belief that he is going to die, Schatz undergoes a

complete transformation from child to adult. Hemingway illustrates this

by an ironic reversal of roles. In the opening of the story and before

Schatz finds out about his temperature, he resists going to bed in

typical child-like fashion before finally submitting to the authority

of his father. After he feels he is dying, however, he assumes the

authoritarian role. Wuhen his father tries to read from a book of

pirate stories, Schatz's normal fare, the boy does not listen. When

the father tells him to go to sleep, Schatz says, "Ild rather stay

awake." Finally Schatz tells his father to leave the room, "'If it's

going to bother you."' When the father goes hunting for a cavey of

quail, Hemingway does not depict him as an older person; rather the

father is portrayed more as a young boy thrilling to the adventure of

the hunt. When the father returns to the house after the hunt Schatz

forbids him to come into the room: "'You can't come in,' he said.

'You mustn't get what I have"' (pp. 457-458).

The return to the normal role of child comes for Schatz when

he finds out his error. The adult pose immediately drops and he

reverts to his normal responses. Hemingway illustrates the change in

this manner: "But his gaze at the foot of the bed relaxed slowly.

The hold over himself relaxed too, finally, and the next day it was

very slack and he cried very easily at little things that were of no

importance" (p. 439).

The adjustment of Schatz to the inevitable and his heroic poise

signals a different reaction to experience from that illustrated in the

early Nick stories. Here, too, there is the regressive tendency, but

it comes only after a victory over the inner forces of the self. It

may be pointed out that this story is a later one and that Hemingway

himself might have changed his own attitudes somewhat. Whatever the

cause, a new dimension has been added to the story of the development

of the Hemingway hero: personal inadequacies may be overcome in the

face of pain and death.

In "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," Hemingway provides a con-

trasting view of Schatz's heroism. A young boy on the threshold of

puberty asks the doctor to castrate him because of "the way he gets."

The doctor cannot convince him that what is happening is part of a

natural process. The boy gives his reasons: "'It is wrong,' said the

boy. 'It's a sin against purity. It's a sin against our Lord and

Saviour'" (p. 304). When the doctor absolutely refuses to castrate

him, the boy leaves and mutilates himself with a razor. The refusal to

accept the stage of puberty at which he has arrived is the extreme of

the via negative. But the analogy of sexual maturity with all of the

processes of life and the eventual facing of death is made. The point

is, all of Hemingway's boy-heroes do not accept contingencies as

Schatz does in nA Day's Wait."

The early stirring of sexuality also furnish the material for

Hemingwayls only story which focuses upon the sensibility of a female

character. In "Up in Michigan," the central character is a young girl

who is introduced to the sexual act. The first stirring within her

of sexuality reveal the difficulties encountered on the threshold of

adulthood and precipitate her first sense of aloneness and isolation.

Her girlish notions of romance are reduced to a mere animal experience:

her first introduction into the nature of reality. After they have

made love, her lover falls asleep in a drunken stupor. The narrative

cites her reactions: "Liz leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

He was still asleep. She lifted his head and shook it. He rolled his

head and swallowed. Liz started to cry. She walked over to the edge

of the dock and looked down to the water. There was a mist coming up

from the bay. She was cold and miserable and everything felt gone"

(p. 85).

A still different facet of the coming of age theme is illus-

trated in "My Old Man." Here the plot is concerned with adjustment

in the father-son relationship and, in an echo of "The Doctor and the

Doctor's Wife," pivots on a question of moral import. In this story,

however, even more so than in the earlier one, the outcome is steeped

in pathetic irony and leaves the hero on the plane of development

from which there can be no return. One of the few places in which

the young hero articulates his own plight, there is evident a fur-

thering of the theme of individuation beyond all of the stories

involving the boy-hero.

The story is told in the first person with a boy, Joe, as

narrator. By using this point of view, Hemingway is better able to

exhibit the inner attitudes of the central character and reveal the

pathos of the final learning situation. Further, the story is told in

retrospect, which accounts for the tough, almost bitter tone of the

piece. Such a tone intensifies the underlying conflicts of the story

by illustrating the eventual attitude derived from the experiences.

Thus Hemingway achieves a verisimilitude on two levels which enables

him to project a moral beyond the isolated circumstances of a local

situation in an individual story.

The opening lines foreshadow the coming disillusionment of

the young boy with the father-hero. By the use of suggestive details,

Hemingway coalesces the attitudes of the boy as narrator and the boy

as participant in the action: "I guess looking at it, now, my old man

was cut out for a fat guy, one of those regular little roly fat guys

you see around, but he sure never got that way, except a little toward

the last, and then it wasn't his fault, he was riding over the jumps

only and he could afford to carry plenty of weight then" (p. 191).

The reference to the father by means of the familiar, almost

pejorative expression "my old man" is indicative of a denigration of

the father that has occurred since the time of the events of the story,

and it is a reflection of the atmosphere in which the events have oc-

curred as well. The reference to the father's physical characteristics,

his tendency to become fat, further alludes to his moral stature as

depicted later in the story. The opening phrase, "I guess looking at

it now," reveals the narrator's reluctance to admit the failure of the

father and the consequent disillusionment, even though it is in retro-

spect that he is viewing the experience. This is not surprising. The

narrators age is not given, but the assumption may be made that he is

not yet of an age or level of development at which he is capable of

reconciling the implications of such an admission.

The father in the story is a jockey in Europe, and the narrative

reflects his stage-by-stage moral disintegration. This is paralleled

on the literal level by his progressive inability to perform in his

occupation. The structure of the story is such that the one becomes

the symbolic equivalent of the other. Within the dramatic time of the

story, there is an early foreshadowing of what is to come. The father

must constantly run in a rubber suit in order to keep trim for riding,

and he tells his son it "'is hell keeping it down.'" As the father

begins to lose ground, physically and morally, he articulates his own

plight in a metaphorical fashion: "' This course rides itself. It' s

the pace, you're going at, that makes riding the jumps dangerous, Joe.

WJe ain't going any pace here, and they ain't really bad jumps either.

But it's the pace always--not the jurmps--that makes the trouble"'

(p. 195).

The significance of the notion that it is the "pace" that

ultimately defeats a man should not be understressed, for it is one

which recurs in a myriad of ways in much of Hemingwayls fiction. It

is important, too, in any treatment of the underlying attitudes of the

central characters in their quest for some sort of moral orientation

in an unpredictable universe. In another short story called "A Pursuit

Race," for example, Hemingway more precisely employs the metaphorical

connotations of this notion, using it as a controlling device for the

whole story. There the central character is the "advance-man" for a

burlesque show, significantly enough, and must always stay ahead of

the show. When he can no longer stand the "pace," symbolically the

regimen of life, he allows the show to catch him and retreats to a

womb-like existence of dope, liquor, and lying in his bed completely

covered by a sheet. This act, of course, perfectly characterizes the

negative way, and the same impulse to escape from life is manifested

in a variety of ways by a host of other Hemingway characters.

The problem posed in "My Old Man" is of a similar order. The

jockey-father is engaged in a "pursuit race" of his own, for he must

keep ahead of the ominous "fat" which heralds old age and the subsequent

loss of his means of existence. As he slowly loses ground, he cannot

simply accept his impending fate. In a fashion reminiscent of "A Pur-

suit Race," where the central character tells his employer: "'You're

called 'Sliding Billy.' That's because you can slide. I'm just called

Billy. That's because I never could slide at all (pp. 353-354),

the father does not "slide" (adjust); rather, he seeks to postpone

the inevitable by involving himself in fixed races. It is this,

finally, that destroys him as a hero figure for the son.

For a young boy the approach to the realities of existence is

of tremendous consequence; and the destruction of the infantile father-

image is an ultimate necessity for his own progress. Hemingway depicts

this destruction by the use of an underlying irony which summarily

illustrates the tremendous void between infantile illusion and the

harsh world of reality. The process begins early in the narrative

when Joe hears another man call his father a "son of a bitch." Until

this time Joe has thought of his father as a strong figure who could

face any kind of difficulty. Now he begins to find something wrong.

"My old man sat there and sort of smiled at me, but his face was white

and he looked sick as hell and I was scared and felt sick inside because

I kn~ew something had happened and I didn't see how anybody could call

my old man a son of a bitch, and get away with it. My old man opened

up the Sprsa and studied the handicaps for a while and then he said,

'You got to take a lot of things in this world, Joe'" (p. 194).

What Joe has witnessed is fear in his father, and what becomes

apparent later is that the father has become involved in something

illegal and must leave the town. After leaving, their life is never

the same. The father no longer can find work and he resorts to open

illegality. It is not that the boy resents the illegal aspect of his

father's livelihood but that the father has broken the trust placed

in him as a hero in his profession. This altered status begins to come

clear when Joess father bets on a fixed race. Having been present when

the jockey told his father what horse would win, Joe still does not

totally grasp the implications of the situation. Rather, he romantically

involves himself in the outcome of the race by attaching himself emotion-

ally to the horse that is being ridden by the jockey whno gave the tip.

As expected, the horse loses. But, still taken with the thrill of the

race, the boy naively asks his father, "'Wasn't it a swell race, Dad?'"

The father, not realizing the extent of the childish involvement, an-

swers, "'George Gardner's a swell jockey, all right,' he said. 'It

sure took a great jock to keep that Kzar horse from winning' (p. 200).

The boyr s reaction to this revelation is one of forced adjustment

mingled with rationalization. He cannot at this point blame his

father, for that would be to admit the fallibility of the father figure.

The result of such an admission would be an alienation from him and the

resultant loss of the protection of the parental mantle. He does not

reconstruct the father here, as Nick did in an earlier story; rather,

he substitutes a surrogate figure and places the blame there. This

substitution is the occasion of the final irony and pathos of the story.

Of course I knew it was funny all the time. But my old man saying
that right out like that sure took the kick all out of it for me
and I didn't get the real kick back again ever, even when they
posted the numbers upon the board and the bell rang to pay off
and we saw that Kircubbin paid 67.50 for 10. All round people were
saying, 'Poor Kzar! Poor Kzar!r And I thought, I wish I were a
jockey and could have rode him instead of that son of a bitch.
And that was funny, thinking of George Gardner as a son of a
bitch because lId always liked him and besides he'd given us the
winner, but I guess that's what he is, all right. (p. 200)

When Joe can finally condemn the jockey for what he has done,

he has at the same time unknowingly applied the same imprecation to

his own father. George has not done anything that the father had not

already done in Milan. Moreover, the fact that Joe can make a moral

judgment at this point implies that he is on the verge of severing

himself from the father, anyway. For a brief interval in the story

the boy and the father come together after this, but once the father

had been destroyed or defeated he is no longer effective in that role.

In the final portion of the story the father dies. Ironically, he has

died on his own horse trying to win a race legitimately. If the tem-

porary restoration of the father has caused the boy to slip back into

the role of innocent at the knee of the father-protector, the regres-

sion is short-lived. And in the end the ultimate irony is that the

boy is left with a surrogate father in whom he has no faith.

The father substitute in this case is the same George Gardner

that Joe has condemned for pulling the horse in the fixed race. After

the death of his father, Joe overhears two men talking about the father

in such a way as to force him to focus on the pathos of a boy who has

lost the illusions of boyhood:

.'Well, Butler got his, all right.r
The other guy said, 'I don't give a good goddam if he did,
the crook. He had it coming to him on the stuff he's pulled.s
'Irll say he had,' said the other gury, and he tore the bunch
of tickets in two.
And George Gardner looked at me to see if I'd heard and I had
all right and he said, 'Don't you listen to what those bums said,
Joe. Your old man was one swell guy.'
But I don't kn~ow. Seems like when they get started they donry
leave a guy nothing. (p. 205)

This final telling insight into his own plight raises this boy-hero to

a level beyond that which any of the previous boy-heroes have been able

to achieve .

The recurrent appearance of the father figure at an important

juncture in the life of the Hemingway protagonist is of considerable

importance throughout the fiction. Hiis introduction in the early short

stories and in a few of the later ones prefigures the appearance in the

later fiction of another important personage who similarly appears at

important intervals in the protagonist's life. This figure has been

called the "code hero.',3 On one level of interpretation he illustrates

the "code" by which a man might live in an unpredictable universe where

a contingent fate seems to have planted a snare at every quarter. This

personage usually appears as a knowing old man--Count Greffi in A Fare-

well To Arms and Anselmo in For Whmte ell Tolls are outstanding

examples--and always he plays a key role in a fateful or climactic

decision by the protagonist. His appearance in the later fiction in

the guise of a wise old man, as the hero himself grows progressively

older, is not accidental but a conscious part of Hemingwray' s treatment

of the theme of self-discovery which all of the major, central char-

acters undergo. Further, his appearance as the wise old man or helper

figure is a reflection of one of the major archetypal figures to be

found in classic and mythic lore. As an extension of the father imago

thi s figure illustrate s the c ont inuity of the adj us tment- to-fa the r

motif that recurs throughout the stories.

Whenever the hero is a young boy, Hemingway never involves the

plot with complexities beyond the scope of the possibilities of immediate

experience for this character. To be sure, sufficient suggestive sym-

belic detail points to wider themes with a more universal application;

yet the delimitation of plot complexity adds an air of verisimilitude.

By focusing upon a young boy involved in the basic conflicts in which

all men have engaged from the nursery drama to adolescent love, the

3Young, Ernest Hemingway (New York: Rinehart and Co., Inc.,
1952), pp. 28 ff.


boy-hero stories keep a clear and sharp classic outline in their

architectonic formulations. This controlled artistry has nade

Hemingwiay' s name synonymous with this type of prose fiction. When his

imitators seem to be writing parodies rather than imitating, they have

missed at precisely this point. They do not see that Hemingway's fiction

employs an underlying aesthetic sensibility which fuses surface form

with basic human themes of vital conflict.


"The Killers" adequately serves as a transition story in

Hemingway's development of the central character of his stories from

adolescence into young manhood. The psychological implications of that

state are reflected by symbolic allusion and are equated with an intro-

duction into evil. In many ways this story takes as a referent the

biblical story of the fall of Adam, and it relates in a similar fashion

the implications of acquiring a knowledge of good and evil.

In "The Snows of Kilinanjaro," when Harry, the protagonist, is

very close to dying with a gangrenous leg, he tells his wife about

death: "rNever believe any of that about a scythe and a skull,' he

told her, 'It can be two bicycle policemen as easily, or be a bird.

Or it can have a wide snout like a hyena"' (p. 74). In "The Killers"

death comes to Nick in the form of two almost comic gangster caricatures

dressed in tight black overcoats, derby hats, and black gloves. When

the two speak, they do so in a stereotyped gangland jargon: "'You're

a pretty bright boy, aren't you?r" The irony of Nick's introduction

to evil in this guise is that it is this particular serio-comic mani-

festation of evil which prompts him to leave the secure confines of

his home town.

When evil enters the protected world of an innocent person,

he cannot effectively escape it by simply fleeing from the world which


it has entered. The logical extension of this lesson forms the basis

for the irony upon which the thematic contents of this story hinge.

The killers come from Chicago to the little town of Summit, and Nick s

desire to "'get out of this town'" to avoid the knowledge of the sure

death of 01e Anderson is ludicrous. At the same time, however, his

desire to run away is indicative of Nick's immediate adjustment to the

wider implications of knowledge of a world where inescapable evil

operates without apparent check.

There are many signs of Nick's coming break from the local

and protective ground of his youth. Several details point to the

notion that something is all wrong in Nick's world. The place where

the initial action takes place is known as "Henry's Lunch-Room," but

it belongs to a man named George; it is not really a lunch-room but a

converted barroom; the clock on the wall runs twenty minutes fast, a

fact which has some importance since the killers expect Anderson at

six o'clock. In the rooming house Nick mistakes a woman named Mrs.

Bell for Mrs. Hirsch, the owner. Since the length of the story is

about three thousand words, these details take on a sharpened focus

that cannot easily be overlooked. Nor does Hemingway intend them

to be, for they serve as a suggestive background of details which are

symbolic of a world that is "out of joint." Hemingway uses his con-

ventional device to heighten suspense and foreshadow the coming events

which force Nick to finally leave the familiar ground and begin the

journey toward self-hood.

T. S. Eliot has illustrated the same sort of conditions in

"The Waste Land."

Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sn er and snarl
From muderacked houses.

One would not want to make too much of the waste-land theme here; yet

the fact is that Hemingway depicts a boy on the threshold of adult-

hood, and the patterns of motifs within the psychology of such an

individual are identical withthose of mythological lore. In a situa-

tion which parallels the waste-land, the boy as a true hero must per-

form a heroic task, and this must spring from a moral impluse, When

Nick cannot stand the thought of the fate of Anderson, this impulse is

brought into play. If his decision to leave the town is prompted by a

youthful repulsion at the thought of death, it is just as much a posi-

tive impetus that activates him as it is a childish desire to escape.

The hero himself must be willing to meet the trial of overcoming the

powerful forces that isolate him from contact with the real world.

Nick does respond at one level, but the irony lies in the fact that his

flight away from himself is really one toward discovery of himself.

This course of an individual response, like all attempts to

achieve individuation, is long, dangerous, and tedious, and the hero

has many levels of development through which to pass. Hemingway

lT. S. Eliot, "The Waste Land," The Complete Poems and Plays
(New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1952!), 11. 340-345.

depicts only the articulation of the desire to separate from the

involvements of the protected sphere. What any hero must do, however,

is to relate and reconcile external phenomena to his own inner plight.

In this respect, as Joseph Campbell has said, the first work of the

hero is to "retreat from the world scene of secondary effects to those

causal zones of the psyche where the difficulties really reside, and

there to clarify the difficulties, eradicate them in his own case.

and break through to the undistorted, direct experience and assimilate

what C. G. Jung has called the archetypal images."

This account of the psychological reverberations in an individ-

ual may seem too far from the point at hand, but its relevancy may be

more clearly seen when the story is viewed as an extension of the motif

of the nursery drama, Here, just as in the Biblical account of the Fall,

all the central symbols of the archetypal construct are employed. Just

as the child must overcome certain forces which would contain him or

restrict his development, so the adolescent faces similar restrictive

factors in his attempt to reach the next stage of the maturation process.

That the story is an extension of the nursery drama is evident from the

roles assigned to the main characters. There is here the same ineffect-

ual father-hero figure of the boyhood stories--01d Anderson; there is

the same "nay-saying" romantic refusal to become involved in the sit-

uation, typical of the mother figure--the negro cook; and there is the

arbiter guide figure--George, the owner of the lunch-room. When the

eCampbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 17.

two killers enter the scene and force certain reactions and responses

from these characters, an obviously symbolic interlude is activated.

After the two killers have left the lunch-room, the characters

directly reveal their functions. Significantly the cook, who performs

the female function of feeding, responds first: 'Il don't want any

more of that.r" Nick, on the other hand, not yet fully aware of the

ramifications of the experience takes the adolescent pose: "Nick stood

up. He had never had a towel in his mouth before. 'Say,' he said.

'What the hell.' He was trying to swagger it off." At this point Nick

still sees a certain amount of movie-thriller romance in having been

tied up by movie-like gangsters. Hemingway has prepared for this by

having one of the killers tell Nick earlier: "'You ought to go to the

movies more. The movies are fine for a bright boy like you.'" At this

point, however, since it all seems to turn out all right, Nick reflects

an attitude which indicates he feels the incident has no further import

than the immediate situational discomfort. But George gives Nick an

insight into the full implication of the visit of the killers: "rThey

were going to kill Old Anderson, George said. 'Th~ey were going to

shoot him when he came in to eat'" (p. 285).

When Nick decides to warn Anderson, at George's suggestion, we

again see the cook functioning as the wooing mother-surrogate who would

keep the child from acquiring the knowledge of the world that will

force the separation from the protective fold.

'You better not have anything to do with it all,' Sam, the
cook, said. 'You better stay way out of it.'
'Don t go if you don't want to,' George said,

'Mixing up in this ain't going to get you anywhere,' the
cook said. 'You stay out of it.'
'I'll go see him,r Nick said to George. 'Where does he live?r
The cook turned away.
'Little boys always kn~ow what they want to do,' he said.
He lives up at Hirsch' s rooming-house, George said to Nick.
'I'll go up there.' (p. 286)

Nick denies the efficacy of the advice which would protect him and keep

him from the impending hurt. The guide he follows is George, who in a

matter-of-fact fashion pushes Nick on into the further experience. This

experience will give him insight into the far-reaching effects of the

presence of the seemingly "comic" killers.

Apparently Nick images the figure of 01e Anderson as having

all the accouterments of the athlete-hero. As such, Anderson reflects

in this role the attributes of the traditional culture hero who sum-

marizes the aims and attitudes of the whole culture. In this way he

further symbolizes all authority figures or leaders, and his actions

are representative of the tendencies of all members of that culture,

But something is wrong with Anderson: "I guess he don't feel well,"

Mrs. Bell tells Nick. Lying in his bed awaiting his fate and appar-

ently incapable of any positive action to avoid it, Anderson exhibits

the qualities of the traditional wounded hero-king. The adolescent

Nick hurrying to the chamber of the sick hero is a perfect parallel

to the hero in the traditional Grail stories.

The possibility of restoring the "King," 01e Anderson, in this

instance is an illusion. Hemingway portrays this in a sequence of

exchanges, which also point up Nick' s still adolescent najlvete/. Nick

believes that one can do something about his plight, and he cannot

readily accept Anderson's refusal to act. Wlhen Anderson says, "'There

isn't anything I can do about it,'" Nick cannot believe him. "ll

tell you what they were like,'" Nick suggests. But Anderson doesn't

care, and Nick tries to suggest remedies for a situation that for

Anderson in his state of mind has no remedy.

rDon't you want me to go and see the police?
'No,' 01Oe Anderson said. rThat wouldn't do any good. r
'Isnst there something I could do?'
'No. There isn't anything to do.'
'Maybe it was just a bluff.'
No. It ain' t just a bluff .

'Couldn't you get out of town?r
'No,' 01e Anderson said, 'I'm through with all that
running around. r
He looked at the wall.
'There ain't anything to do now~.'
rCouldn't you fix it up some way?'
'No. I got in wrong.' He talked in the same flat voice.
'There ainst anything to do. After a while 1111 make up my mind
to go out.' (pp. 287-288)

The exchange between Nick and 01e Anderson serves to illustrate

dialectically the education of Nick Adams the adolescent. As the old,

"wounded" hero, 01e Anderson catalogues for Nick the precise short-

comings of all possibilities of action. Flight, police authority,

"fixing, all are possibilities tried and tested by the old hero in

past experiences and proved ineffectual. He is the experienced one

who has taken the journey in the past and knows the answers. As such,

he is the imago of the father and at the same time the portrait of

what the young hero himself might become.

Ironically, Nick's final response to the whole affair, "'Im

going to get out of this town,"' is the reflex of what Anderson has

revealed to him in the previous dialectic of learning. The Swede,

having tried or considered all methods of escape from the inevitable,

accepts his fate and will soon "make up his mind" to go out. But as

the "sick" hero fixated at a level of inaction, he does not accept

final reconciliation and atonement with death. Rather, his is a nega-

tive response to death. It is this attitude of Anderson's that reveals

him as a hero who has failed because of some personal inadequacy. The

still young Nick elects flight because to vicariously experience the

same fate as that of the Swede is "too damned awful" for him at his

level of development. Thus he illustrates his refusal to accept the

inadequacies typified by the Swede. He is not able to accept the

stoical matter-of-fact adjustment represented by George, either, and

he must elect another way. The course he does choose is the seemingly

protective one of the dark, hermaphroditic mother-guide figure of the

cook who wontnt even listen to it.'" But the collective forces of

experience will not leave Nick unscarred, of course; if he thinks to

elude the inevitable by leaving, Hemingway leaves no doubt that he

cannot. Just as the killers have come into this sphere from that

beyond, so Nick will encounter identical forces in his flight. What

has happened in this experience might prove to be the needed stimulus

to project Nick onward toward further learning experiences.

Hemingway explores the plight of a Nick Adams who has made the

decision reached in "The Killers" in two other short stories, "The

Battler" and "The Light of the World." Both of these stories depict

a character who has left the town of his upbringing and is in flight

from the experiences of his youth. And both of the stories are

significant in the whole of Hemingway' s treatment of the learning

experience of his central character. If the young hero has had his

sensibility scarred by the experiences of youth in the protective

environment of home, then these two episodes in his flight are demon-

strative of a further and more serious introduction into the machina-

tions of the world. Here is revealed a world of nightmarish experience

where things are amiss, and both stories illustrate to some extent a

desire to recover a world where the comfort and security of the lost

home and mother are established.

In "The Pattler, Hemingway revolves the plot around the motif

of "the promise given and the promise withdrawn." This device force-

fully points up Nick' s alienation from the protective sphere which

implies, romantically, that all promises given will be fulfilled.

Further, the operation of the motif is intensified by the contrasting

light and dark symbols which form the opposite poles of attraction and

repulsion in the middle-ground on which the hero finds himself.

Nick's first introduction into a world where promises are

not kept forms the early coincidence of his involvement in the central

drama by the fireside of a punchdrunk ex-fighter and an apparently

homosexual Negro. In the opening scene, having just been thrown from

a train, Nick stands near the railroad tracks with his trousers torn,

his kn~ees skinned, and his hands scraped.

That lousy crut of a brakeman. He would get him some day.
He would knoaw him again. That was a fine way to act.
rCome here, kid, I got something for you.'
He had fallen for it. What a lousy kid thing to
have done. They would never suck him in that way again.

'Ccme here, kid, I got something for you.' Then wham and he
lit on his hands and knees beside the track. (p. 1E

This first instance serves to reveal Nick's discovery that a simple,

childlike response will not serve in relationships with individuals

outside of the protected family circle. Also, the brakeman is one of

a long list of authority figures who does not fulfill the expected role

for the innocent. Even the language Hemingway uses here is suggestive

of the infantile relationship: "1Come here, kid, I got something for

you, '" echoes some sort of offer of candy or some other desirable ob-

ject that a child might expect to be given by an adult. The result

here has an effect far more significant than Nickis being thrown from

a train, for the brakeman's action cuts to the quick of Nick's childish

response. What Nick feels here is shame and mortification at having

been lured by the authority figure into playing the role of the child.

Nick's vow that "they" shall never do it to him again illustrates his

adolescent anger rather than a true learning experience, however, for

in the very next scene he again becomes the victim of the same kind

of lure.

The second instance of the promise given and Nick's ready

acceptance of such a promise from another authority figure precip-

itates the more profound learning situation for Nick. Walking along

the tracks Nick sees a fire off in. the darkness. Hemingwiay invokes

certain traditional symbols at this point, for Nick is walking easily

and solidly along the tracks, suggestive of the motif of "The W~ay."

In mythology, as in Pilgrim's Progress, this signifies the tried and

proved path. As long as the hero adheres to it he is protected by

benevolent forces. Alongside the tracks there is a swamp, another

traditional image. In mythic terms it is representative of the laby-

rinthian passages of the unconscious and irrational. Whenever the hero

is lured from the tried and proved pathway the dangers symbolized by the

swamp threaten to swallow him and to terminate his journey into self-

discovery. The same sort of symbolic interplay operates here, for when

Nick, hungry and tired, sees the firelight just off the tracks in the

swamp the temptation is too great: "He must get to somewhere." Yet

Nick is only a few miles from a town, Mancelona, and if he continues

along the true pathway he will soon be out of the swamp. Just as

Pilgrim in his journey strayed many times from the path, however, so

Nick does here and the consequences are not greatly different from

those related in Pilgrim' s Progress.

With the lesson impressed upon him so recently by the brakeman,

Nick approaches the fire carefully. He soon drops his guard--a child-

ish regression--and it is in this way that the lesson not totally

learned from the train experience is more subtly taught him again. At

the fire Nick finds the degenerate ex-prizefighter Ad Francis, who

offers him hospitality and food. The initial exchange between the two

is indicative of a kind of adjustment to the world which refers back to

Nick's earlier response to the brakeman.

'It must have made him feel good to bust you,' the man said
'I'll bust him,'
rGet him with a rock sometime when he's going through,'
the man advised,
'I'll get him.'
'You're a tough one, aren't you?'

'No Nick answered.
'All you kids are tough.'
'You got to be tough, Niick said.
'That's what I said.' (p. 151)

As in "The Killers," Hemingway employs a short dialectical discourse

between an authority-hero figure and the young Nick to illustrate a

possible adjustment to the circumstances of the world. The credo of

adjustment postulated by Francis and repeated by Nick--tough, tough,

tough--is often thought to be the dominant attitude held by all Heming-

way heroes in all situations. This story amply illustrates that it is

not, for Hemingway interjects a foreign element which forces a recon-

sideration on Nickrs part of Francis' answer to the problems of the


W~ith the preparation of the food by Bugs, Francis, who has

already asked Nick if he was hungry, begins to "change"--a signal of

his chronic illness. He soon becomes irrational and challenges Nick.

'You're a hot sketch. Who the hell asked you to butt in here?'
'You're damn right nobody did. Nobody asked you to stay either.
You come in here and act snotty about my face and smoke my cigars
and drink my liquor and then talk snotty. Where the hell do you
think you get off?'
Nick said nothing. Ad stood up.
'Ir11 tell you, you yellow-livered Chicago bastard. You're
going to get your can knocked off. Do you get that?' (p. 135)

TIhe withdrawal of the promise and the threat of personal violence points

to an important learning experience for Nick. As the athlete-hero,

Francis functions in somewhat the same manner as Anderson in "The Killers":

his "sickness" adumbrates the cultural plight of a whole civilization in-

to which Nick is being thrust. The features of Francis directly portray

the inner state of degeneracy: "In the firelight Nick saw that his face

was misshapen. His nose was sunken, his eyes were slits, he had queer-

shaped lips. Nick did not perceive all this at once, he only saw the

man's face was queerly formed and mutilated. It was like putty in color.

Dead looking in the firelight." And whiat is more, Francis has only one

ear, a fact which makes Nick "a little sick" (p. 151) The distortion

of the fighter's features prefigure exactly what Nick learns about him

and is a distant extension of what Nick learned about the Swede.

Francis too is "sick," and his sickness is both physical and moral.

Nick's nausea over the disfigurement of the fighter and his subsequent

insight into the moral plight of this hero figure is similar to the

reaction of many of the central characters of the stories. Sometimes

they can articulate what they feel about the sordid moral state of the

sick or pseudo hero, and usually they feel as the narrator of "The

Mother of a Queen" does toward the homosexual bullfighter. He asks,

"WJhat kind of blood is it that makes a man like that" (p. 419)? At

his stage of development, Nick can only feel a sense of uncertainty

and repulsion. But the insight the encounter with Bugs and Francis

provides at least paves the way for a later, conscious awareness of


In a symbolic frame of reference, as the sick hero Francis is

also the ogre figure with whom Nick must do battle on the threshold of

maturity. In this sense he is symbolic of the father-authority who is

both the helpful guide and the dangerous presence guarding the entrance

into the unknown. The fighter here stands as the father who has in the

past held out the promise to the hero as a child, but who withdrew the

promise when the child would remain fixed at the infantile level.

The ironic function of the fighter is more clearly seen in this instance

when the details of setting are taken into account. The whole of the

drama takes place around a fire, a conventional symbol of light and

hope; here, however, the events that take place are suggestive of

violence and evil and the traditional usage is inverted. When Nick

comes out of the night just "wounded" from his ordeal with the brakeman,

he is duped into expecting comfort and sustenance by the campfire.

But that promise is withdrawn and he is forced to continue on his

journey without the aid he had anticipated.

At the fireside Bugs gives Nick a sandwich to help him along

the way, and here a further irony is revealed. Functioning in much

the same fashion as the cook in "The Killers," the Negro here is the

cook and soother, the hermaphroditic figure who resembles the mother.

He controls the situation at all times, in spite of his deferential

treatment of both Francis and Nick. The fact that he is dark, however,

signals the danger inherent in the nature of such a figure. His appar-

ent homosexuality gives further credence to his changling nature as well

as pointing to the dangers of the personage who indulges in activities

which are contra naturam. Steeped in ambiguity, this figure reveals

both a dangerous nature--he "changes" Francis by tapping him at the base

of the skull with a black~jack--and a protective one--he tells Nick to

leave, giving him directions and food.

In this dual role the Negro is typical of the herald figure

drawn in sharp outline form, and he conforms to Joseph Campbell's

description of the herald figure: "The herald or announcer of the

adventure, therefore, is often dark, loathly, or terrifying, judged

evil by the world; yet if one could follow, the way would be opened

through the walls of day into the dark where the jewels glow. Or the

herald is a beast (as in the fairy tale), representative of the re-

pressed instinctual fecundity within ourselves, or again a veiled mys-

terious figure--the unknown."3 It is Bugs who saves Nick from the en-

counter with Francis and prevents Nick from remaining at this lesser

level of development. Defeat by the authority-father figure would mean

that the hero has not yet reached the point of development required

for the journey he has already undertaken. Bugs steps in at this point

as the helper figure and the catastrophic results of a defeat are avoided.

Involved in this symbolic interlude by the fireside are other

associative connotations which reinforce the thematic implications of

the "promise withdrawn" motif. The disfigured hero represented by

Francis is part of a whole series of wounded or crippled heroes that

appear in Hemingway's fiction. The general consensus has been, as

Philip Young has pointed out, that the external hurt is "an outward

and visible sign of an inward dis-grace [sic)."4 Also, William Bysshe

Stein has observed: "The Freudian roll call of symbolic phallic wounds

in his works is interminable. Nick is injured in the leg and Robert

Jordan in the thigh. Harry in "The Snows of Kilamanjaro" dies of a

BCampbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 53.

4Young, Ernest Hemingway (New Yorkt: Rinehart and Co., Inc.,
1952), p. 15.

gangrened limb; Colonel Cantwell wears a scar on his knee; Harry Morgan

in To Have and Have Not loses an arm; Lieutenant Henry in A Farewell To

Arms and Jake Barnes in The Sun Also R~ises are comparably afflicted."5

But along with signifying an outward token of an inner attitude and of

being suggestive of emotional hurts, the symbolic wound is a cipher

which takes as its key the manifold, cognate myths of crippled heroes.

It is only by apprehending this function that the frequent occurrences

of the wound may be seen as integral parts of a basic theme.

The significance of the wounded hero takes on a new dimension

when viewed in the light of the broader motif of the crippled hero.

Jacob, Christ, Paul, Oedipus, and Samson, to mention only a few obvious

examples from biblical and classical sources, all are part of a series

of redemptive heroes who were crippled or abandoned in some fashion in

their particular struggles with contingent forces. The motif has been

described by James Clark Moloney, and he indicates some of the main

configurations of its workings.

Th~e crippled, rejected hero is a unique concept. The vicissitudes
of the hero' s life have been sung in the sagas of almost every
culture. There is an attention-riveting quality about this hero.
No matter from whence he came, this ubiquitous male was stereotyped.
Almost always his birth has been predicted. The hero was born to
save mankind. Frequently he was the son of a virgin. If not the
son of a virgin, then the hero's father was a god. Rather univer-
sally a jealous person in power--an uncle, father or grandfather--
attempted to kill the hero. To escape this menace the hero was
separated from his family. He was reared by strangers in a strange
land. These heroes were crippled as well as abandoned. Finally,

'illiam Bysshe Stein, "The Dialectic of Hemingway' s Short
Stories." An unpublished manuscript to appear in The University of
Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Summer (1961).

the hero's day of destiny arrives. The hero returns and kills the
brutal ruler, or the hero, after an upsurge of activity is himself
killed. The hero's death is often a scapegoat death, serving the
utilitarian purpose of perpetuating life. (Leviticus, Chapter 16,
Verses 5-10). After he is dead, the hero returns to the earth
that ~ften rejuvenates him, effectuates his rebirth or resurrec-

Whnat these parallels illustrate here is not so much that Hemingway

evolved a conscious plan to depict a redemptive hero, as to point out

that the outstanding devices of his major fiction are part of a univer-

sal pattern of motifs. When these devices are viewed, certain not so

obvious undertones appear.

What Nick sees that makes him "a little sick" is literally that

Francis has only one ear, but what he has experienced by the end of

"The Battler" leaves him somewhat confused. The experience teaches

him that the answer he thought he had at the beginning--be tough--ic

not valid in all situations. His final view of the ex-prizefighter

directly contradicts what he had been led to expect from the athlete-

hero. If Francis bears the signs of the redemptive hero, he more

pointedly personifies the unredeemed hero. Francis is caught in the

swamp of a labyrinthian night-world from which there is no possible

escape. In this respect, he is much like the Swede in "The Killers,"

who is in a similar trap. The dark conductor, Bugs, has led him into

the swamp, but, as in all heroic cycles, it is not the conductor who

is at fault for the hero's plight. As Bugs tells Nick, Francis has not

6James Clark Moloney, "The Origin of the Rejected and Crippled
Hero Myths," The American Imago, XVI, Winter (1959), 276.

only taken too many beatings but was involved in an incestuous affair,

squandered all his money, and took to "busting people all the time."

His alienation from all social intercourse is a logical extension of

his own inner difficulties. He is held prisoner, therefore, by the

shadow figure of Bugs, who by further extension is representative of

the repressed and irrational side of his own self. The guilt of his

incest and all the scarring experiences--beatings--he has suffered are

what really hold this hero in bondage. Nick, as the hero-becoming and

the young man on the journey toward self-learning is presented with a

perfect example of the hero who has failed in the quest.

It is not Hemingway's purpose in these short stories to relate

the final outcome of the learning experiences Nick undergoes. Rather,

the purpose is more to dramatize the learning experiences themselves

and to suggest by symbolic detail the impact they have upon the central

character. By the end of this story it becomes obvious that the title

not only refers to the ex-prizefighter but more pointedly to the young

Nick, who is actively engaged in a greater battle than any prizefighting

arena could provide. "The Battler" here refers directly to the process

of maturation Nick is undergoing, and the particular situation depicted

is only one of the many that he will encounter throughout life.

As in "The Killers," in "The Light of the Wlorld" Hemingway

employs an assortment of serio-comic characters in a burlesque inter-

lude to explore the serious implications of Nick' s further exposure

to the experiences of the world. The title is excerpted from the New

Testament story of Christ's encounter with the woman taken in adultery.7

7See Stein, "The Dialectic of Hemingway's Short Stories."

When Christ disposes of the arguments of the scribes and Pharisees

He remarks: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall

not walk in darkn~ess, but shall have the light of life (John 8:2-12)."

Viewed in this context, the title has a multiple significance in rela-

tion to the major thematic emphasis of the story.

The situation depicted is one in which Nick is again at large

in the world. Nick is accompanied by a friend, Tom, who serves as a

register against which Nick's responses may be tested. Both are young

men who have just arrived in a strange town. The place is unusual,

and upon their entrance the first encounter with a townsman, a bar-

tender, is answered with hostility. Here, too, as in "The Killers, n

there is something amiss. Tom senses this and remarks at one point,

"'What the hell kind of place is this"' (p. 385). After their encounter

with the barman, they go to the train station where they meet an un-

likely aggregation: "Down at the station there were five whores wait-

ing for the train to come in, and six white men and four Indians"

(p. 385). Again, there is something wrong. Nick, the narrator of this

piece, suggests: "It was crowded and hot from the stove and full of

stale smoke. As we came in nobody was talking and the ticket window

was down" (p. 385). With the entry of Nick and Tom, the atmosphere

changes somewhat. What follows is a curious parody of the traditional

naffirmation of the faith," in which two of the whores describe their

more than close relationship with the fighter, Stanley Ketchel.

The exposure is to an abnormal situation which has the aura

of the normal, and there are two major movements in the story which

serve to focus upon the impact of this experience. The details of

setting and the responses of the barman in the first portion of the

narrative prefigure the underlying implications not readily apparent

in the second. Tom is apparently the more experienced of the two

boys, and in the exchange that takes place in the barroom it is he that

is the active participant. The bartender decides to serve them only

after he has seen that they have money, and Tom who earlier had been

stopped by the bartender from eating the free-lunch pig's feet,

angrily responds to the bartender's hostility and suspicion. Nick,

on the other hand, acts in a more level-headed manner and tries to

soothe the situation.

'Your goddam pig's feet stink,' Tom said, and spit what he
had in his mouth on the floor. The bartender didn't say any-
thing. The man who had drunk the rye paid and went out without
looking back.
'You stink yourself,s the bartender said. 'All you punks
stink. '
'He says we're punks,' Tommy said to me.
'Listen,' I said. LLets get out.Y
'You punks clear the hell out of here,P the bartender said.
'I said we were going out,' I said. 'It wasn't your idea.'
'We'll be back,' Tommy said.
'No you won't,l the bartender told him.
Tell him how wrong he is, Tom turned to me.
'Come on,' I said. (p. 385)

In the second portion of the story Nick begins to participate

in the action more aggressively, and in the conclusion the point of the

story is illustrated by the degree of his involvement.

Alice looked at her and then at us and her face lost that hurt
look and she smiled and she had about the Drettiest face I ever
saw. She had a pretty face and a nice smooth skin and a lovely
voice and she was nice all right and really friendly. But my
God she was big. She was as big as three women. Tom saw me
looking at her and he said, 'Come on. Let's go.'

'Good-bye,' said Alice. She certainly had a nice voice.
'Good-bye,' I said. (pp. 390-391)

Nick has earlier told one of the men in the station, a homosexual cook,

that his and Tom's ages are sseventeen and nineteen.'" Since he is

the speaker, it may be assumed that the first figure refers to himself.

This is of importance to the characterization in the story, for here

it is Tom, as the older more experienced one, who urges Nick away from

the hint of temptation suggested by Nick's "looking" at Alice. Thle

initial situation with the barman is reversed, for now it is Tom who

withdraws. An examination of the underlying symbolic drama which

formulates the dynamic configuration of this story illustrates the mean-

ing of the reversal of roles.

The whole of the central force of the interlude at the train

station takes as its motif the burlesque elevation of Stanley Ketchel,

a prizefighter, into the role of an imitatio Christi. Once again, as

in "The Killers" and "Tie Battler," Nick is given the measure of a

counterfeit hero in the role of the perennial, redemptive hero. Here

too it is not immediately evident that he is being told the tale of

such a personage, for Hemingway has so devised the valuation that the

absurd attitudes of the prostitutes seem at one level to have validity.

The repetition throughout of allusions and direct references

to deity charges the burlesque situation to such a point that the whole

scene is transformed into a kind of absurd Walpurgis Night. Nick as

the young would-be initiate views the attestation of faith and renewal

of vows of two whores to the arch-god of physicality represented by

Ketchel. Their physical proportions and subsequent conversation suggest

that they are embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins--pride, covetousness,

lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. The mediator-priest present

here is the homosexual cook--"his face was white and his hands were

white and thin"--and he plays his role throughout: "'Can't you stop

that sort of thing?' the cook asked. 'Canet we speak decently (p. 588)? "

Ironically enough, in a complete reversal of the conventional

usage of black and white imagery, the mock "white-Christ" has been

defeated by a Negro. One of the prostitutes recounts the story of

the defeat, and her telling enforces the burlesque character of the


'It was a trick,' Peroxide said. 'That big dinge took him by
surprise. Herd just knlocked Jack Johnson down, the big black
bastard. That nigger beat him by a fluke.'
The ticket window went up and the three Indians went up to it.
'Steve knocked him down,' Peroxide said. 'He turned to smile
at me.'
'I thought you said you weren't on the coast,' some one said.
'I went out just for that fight. Steve turned to smile at
meand that black son of a bitch from hell j) umped up and hit him
surprise. Steve could lick a hundred like that black bastard.'

The ironic reversal of the conventional "white equals good, black

equalsbad" formula adds verisimilitude to the apparent seriousness of

the character in her description of the fight. For her Ketchel rep-

resents the forces of "good," and his defeat by Johnson is indicative

of the operation of satanic forces. The whole incident as she describes

it is a direct parallel with Christ's struggle with Satan in the desert,

only the pseudo-Christ is defeated in this account.

Another detail which Hemingway imposes to add further to the

parallel is the reference made by one of the prostitutes:

"'Steve Ketchel,' one of the blondes said in a high voice as though

the name had pulled a trigger in her. 'His own father shot and killed

him. Yes, by Christ, his own father. There aren't any more men like

Steve Ketchel'" (p. 388). The reference here suggests the Crucifixion

and Christ's appeal to God, His father. Other references throughout

further substantiate the device Hemingway has employed: "'He was

like a god, he was'" (p. 389), and "rHe was the greatest, finest,

whitest, most beautiful man that ever lived, Steve Ketchel, and his

own father shot him down like a dog (p. 388) .

That these are the "brides" of the mock-Christ figure is illus-

trated by their "affirmation of the faith" and by their grotesque

revelations of the degree that each was the "true" bride. Their

remarks directly echo the traditional taking of the vows by nuns who

become the "bride of Christ." In the argument, for example, one of

the prostitutes illustrates this: "'He was more than any husband

could ever be.' Peroxide said. 'We were married in the eyes of God

and I belong to him right now and always will and all of me is his.

I don't care about my body. They can take my body. My soul belongs

to Steve Ketchel'" (p. 389), In response, the other prostitute relates

her experience: "Alice was crying so she could hardly speak from shak-

ing so. He said, "Your re a lovely piece, Alice ." Thnat 's exactly

what he said'" (p. 390). The culmination of the argument sequence

occurs with Alice besting the other prostitute by a ludicrous apprai-

sal of her value, both in relation to Ketchel and to the present:

"'No,i said Alice in that sweet lovely voice, 'you haven't got any

real memories except having your tubes out and when you started C,

and M. Everything else you just read in the papers. I'm clean and

you kn~ow it and men like me, even though I'm big, and you know it,

and I never lie and you know it' (p. 390),

Nick and Tom have been listening to the exchange, but the

younger Nick is taken in by the seductive voice and appearance of the

"Queen" who emerges victorious in this W~alpurgis Night congregation.

Nick describes the features of Alice as almost Madonna-like: "She had

a pretty face and a nice smooth skin and a lovely voice." But it is

the older Tom ("sI swear to Christ I've never been anywhere like this"'

[p. 387]) who guides Nick away frorm the dangers of involvement with

the apparent real diabolic forces at work. When the cook asks, "'Which

way are you boys going?s" his question is one laden with meaning in the

light of the experience Nick and Tom have just encountered. In his

sympathetic attitude toward Alice, Nick might be ready to choose the

"wrong" way. Tom, however, is the forceful agent who literally saves

Nick from himself and the possibility of being imprisoned in this

"Palace of Lucifera." "'The other way from you"' (p. 391). Tom tells

the cook, and his words also have a prophetic cast to them in relation

to the symbolic frame of the experience with these representatives of

the Seven Deadly Sins. Nick does not make a conscious moral choice

here, but his "guide" represents in a psychological framework another

aspect of his own personality. If the "guide" leads him away from the

dangers represented, it is some indication that he has escaped the

dangers of the irrational at one point. He will as well be better able

to cope with similar circumstances in the normal, every-day world

where identical forces are encountered in more subtle guises.

Hemingwayls intense interest in the threshold encounters with

the dark forces of the world by a young hero are not limited solely

to the Nick Adams stories. In "The Revolutionist" and in "The Capital

of the World," he deals with similar encounters. Both of these stories

suggest opposing responses by the two young heroes who are the central

characters of each. The narrative method differs in both, and the

themes account for the difference in approach. In "The Revolutionist,"

the narrator relates the adventure of a young man with romantic illusions

who keeps them, although it is obvious that is all they are. In "The

Capital of the World," the direct threshold experience is revealed,

and although the central character also has romantic illusions about

life there is illustrated here the account of the vital moment of

facing reality,

No more than a brief sketch, the significance of "The Revolu-

tionist" is more its focus upon the young central character than as a

short story with all the traditional accouterments of that form. In

the opening lines, the narrator, a worker for the "movement" in Italy,

describes the credentials the young man carries: "In 1919 he was

travelling on the railroads in Italy, carrying a square of oilcloth

from the headquarters of the party written in indelible pencil and

saying here was a comrade who had suffered very much under the Whites

in Budapest and requesting comrades to aid him in any way. He used

this instead of a ticket. He was very shy and quite young and the

train men passed him on from one crew to another. He had no money,

and they fed him behind the counter in railway eating houses" (p. 157),

The irony implied by the title of the piece becomes apparent,

for this is a "revolutionist" traveling with "false" credentials.

Having experienced things and "suffered much" he has no conception of

the implications of that suffering and his own attitudes belie the

literal message of the credentials, He is still the innocent untouched

by experience, much as the young Nick in "Indian Camp." Here, however,

the young revolutionary is not a boy of Nick's age; he is a young man

who has experienced the wider, more expansive happenings in the socio-

political realm, This is an area of experience into which Hemningway

thrusts other young heroes as they progressively grow older. Having

gone through the period of childhood and young adolescence, there are

certain kinds of responses to be expected of the young adult. If he

maintains his childish illusions through his young manhood, the ini-

tial awakening experience will have traumatic consequences. Played

against the register of the older and more experienced narrator, the

young hero depicts an individual who is still fixed at some infantile


The naive innocence of the young revolutionist and his inabil-

ity to see the far-reaching consequences of the acts in which he is

involved are brought into focus by the single exchange between him

and the narrator of this sketch.

He was a Magyar, a very nice boy and very shy. Horthy' s men had
done some bad things to him. He talked about it a little. In
spite of Hungary, he believed altogether in the world revolution.

rBut how is the movement going in Italy?r he asked.
r Very badly, I said.
'But it will go better,' he said. rYou have everything here.
It is the one country that every one is sure of It will be the
starting point of everything.'
I did not say anything. (p. 157)

The juxtaposition of the narrator's pessimism and the young man's

optimism points up the themes of illusion and disillusion that appear

elsewhere in Hemingway's short stories. In this story the themes are

related to a cause as an ideal. In the stories that refer to an older

character, Hemingw~ay sometimes parallels such attachments to the clea-

vage of the infant to its mother. Both kinds of attachments have dan-

gers, and the maturation process which must follow involves a separation

from dependency, insight into the nature of all protective agencies, and

final atonement as the self emerges. In the exchange between the nar-

rator and the young boy, author sympathy seems to lie with the older of

the pair. Be that as it may, there is still a certain nostalgia indi-

cated in the narrators attitude toward the boy with ideals. Thus this

story is not so much an indictment of the ideal as it is an examination

of the individuals who are romantically committed to it.

The boy is on his way to Switzerland, and it represents refuge

and freedom from the trials of the movement. Thne boy wishes to walk

over the pass from Italy into Switzerland, a further indication in this

context of his romantic propensities, As the narrator tells of his

final association with the boy and of his knowledge of the boyr s fate,

a final, subtle irony emerges: "He thanked me very much, but his mind

was already looking forward to walking over the pass. He was very eager

to walk over the pass while the weather held good. Hie loved the

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs