Indian Camp By Hemingway Ernest Hemingway pulled from his past present experiences to develop his own thoughts concerning death, relationships, and lies. He then mixed these ideas, along with a familiar setting, to create a masterpiece. One such masterpiece written early in Hemingway’s career is the short story, “Indian Camp.” “Indian Camp” was originally published in the collection of “in Our Time” in 1925. A brief summary reveals that the main character, a teenager by the name of Nick, travels across a lake to an Indian village. While at the village Nick observes his father, who is a doctor, deliver a baby to an Indian by caesarian section. As the story continues, Nick’s father discovers that the newborn’s father has committed suicide.
Soon afterward Nick and his father engage in a discussion about death, which brings the story to an end. With thought and perception a reader can tell the meaning of the story. The charters of Nick and his father resemble the relationship of Hemingway and his father. Hemingway grew up in Oak Park, a middle class suburb, under the watchful eye of his parents, Ed and Grace Hemingway. Ed Hemingway was a doctor who “occasionally took his son along on professional visits across Walloon Lake to the Ojibway Indians” during summer vacations (Waldhorn 7).
These medical trips taken by Ernest and Ed would provide the background information needed to introduce nick and his father while on their medical trip in “Indian Camp.” These trips were not the center point of affection between Ed and Ernest, but they were part of the whole. The two always shared a close father-son bond that Hemingway often portrayed in his works: Nick’s close attachment to his father parallels Hemingway’s relationship with Ed. The growing boy finds in the father, in both fiction and life, not only a teacher-guide but also a fixed refuge against the terrors of the emotional and spiritual unknown as they are encountered. In his father Ernest had someone to lean on (Shaw 14). In “Indian Camp,” nick stays in his father’s arms for a sense of security and this reinforces their close father-son relationship.
When Nick sees the terror of death, in the form of suicide, his father is right there to comfort him. From this we are able to see how Nick has his father to, physically and mentally, “lean” on, much like Hemingway did (Shaw 11). Hemingway’s love for his father was not always so positive though, and he often expressed his feelings about his situation though his literature. When Hemmingway was young, his father persuaded him to have his tonsils removed by a friend, Dr. Wesley Peck.
Even though it was Dr. Peck who performed the painful operation, Hemingway “always held it against his father for taking out his tonsils without an anaesthetic” (Meyers 48). Hemingway saw the opportunity to portray his father in “Indian Camp” as the cold-hearted man who had his tonsils yanked out without anaesthetic. In a reply to Nick’s question about giving the Indian woman something to stop screaming, his father states, “No. I haven’t any anaesthetic..But her screams are not important.
I don’t hear them because they are not important.” (Tessitore 18) Hemingway lashed out at his father one more time before the story ends. In “Indian Camp,” Hemingway uses the conversation between Nick and his father, concerning the suicide of the Indian, to show his distaste for his own father’s suicide: ‘Why did he kill himself, Daddy?’ ‘I don’t know Nick.’ ‘He couldn’t stand things, I guess.’ ‘Do many men kill themselves, Daddy?’ ‘Not very many, Nick..’ ‘Is dying hard, Daddy?’ ‘No, I think its pretty easy, Nick. It all depends.’ (Hemingway 19) Hemingway saw his father as a weak working man who served his wife, Grace, unconditionally. Ed worked a full day to come home to clean house, prepare food, and tend to the children. He had promised Grace that if she would marry him, she would not have to do housework for as long as he lived.
Ill and depressed, Ed committed suicide in 1928. Hemingway later referred to the situation by stating: “I hated my mother as soon as I knew the score and loved my father until he embarrassed me with his cowardice..My mother is an all time all American bitch and she would make a pack mule shoot himself, let alone poor bloody father.” (Meyers 212) Hemingway uses “Indian Camp” to express his feelings that his father was a coward. He did this by having Nick’s father refer to suicide as being “pretty easy,” which is comparable to a coward’s way out of life. Therefore, Hemingway uses the story to portray his father’s death as cowardly. The characters and setting of “Indian Camp” are undoubtedly influenced by Hemingway’s Childhood. In much of the same respect, Hemingway’s second novel, A Farewell to Arms, has influences from his adult years spent in the war. A Farewell to Arms is a tragic love story in the midst of war.
The main character, Fredrick Henry, is an ambulance driver in World War I who is wounded in the trenches. Henry, now a casualty, is sent to recover at an American hospital in Milan. During his stay, henry falls in love with a nurse by the name of Catherine Barkley. The couple then heads for Switzerland to escape the war and have a child. The novel takes an evil twist at the end though.
Catherine dies while she is in labor, leaving Henry alone in the world. When comparing Ernest Hemingway and the character Frederick Henry, there are some very obvious resemblances. After not being allowed to join the army due to bad vision in his left eye, Hemingway joined the war effort during 1918 in Italy as an ambulance driver. Likewise, Hemingway made sure that Henry was also an ambulance driver in A Farewell to Arms. The most noticeable similarity is Hemingway’s war wound. While passing out chocolate and cigarettes to soldiers at night, Hemingway was hit by a mortar shell.
Wounded, but not dead, Hemingway picked up an nearby casualty and began carrying him off the battlefield. He succeeded in making it to the first aid center but was hit in the knees by machine-gun fire while on his journey. During his recover in Milan, Hemingway recorded his firsthand account of the action in a letter written to his parents. In …