In Our Time Critical Analysis

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Nick's Psychological Development
in Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time
In Hemingway's collection of short stories, In Our Time, we follow a character by the name of Nick Adams. We are introduced to Nick in "Indian Camp" as a young boy, and follow him to adulthood in both Parts I and II of "Big Two-Hearted River". Through this we see Nick develop and learn about some major facts of life. Nick is a character who is changes through the effects of war on many different levels. Although Hemingway hardly mentions the war, he uses the stories to express different effects and emotions caused by the war.

In "Indian Camp" we meet Nick as he joins his father to help a pregnant Indian woman in labor. Nick's father, a doctor, brings him to experience this as a sort of initiation of life. His father wants him to learn about life and wants to teach his son about being a doctor. While doing this, Nick's father is unconsciously presenting Nick with life while trying to shield him from death. When the Indian man commits suicide, Nick's father does not want him to see it. A man who commits suicide lacks courage, and that is not something that Nick's father wants him to learn. Nick's father did not say much to him about this incident. This strong, silent masculinity reappears throughout these stories. When this happens, Nick's behavior also changes. Nick quickly refers to his father as "daddy" instead of "dad" as he did earlier. He is looking for his father to fix what has happened and comfort him. This tragic incident scars Nick more than even his father understands. Witnessing suicide was too disturbing to Nick at his young age, thus restraining his psychological development. Reacting to this, at the end of the story "… [Nick] felt quite sure that he would never die" (19). This makes it obvious that although Nick witnessed death first hand, that he still does not fully understand it. Hemingway is introducing the theme of masculinity in the story, and how Nick...
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