Indian Camp

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Indian Camp

Indian Camp is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway in 1921. It is a part of a volume of short stories called “The Nick Adams stories” where the main character, Nick Adams, is an autobiographical inspired figure. In Indian Camp, Nick Adams is a young boy accompanying his father, Doctor Adams, and his uncle, George, to an Indian camp on the other side of a lake. Nick’s father is going to help a young Indian woman who is having problems delivering her baby. When they arrive the doctor performs an improvised caesarean section to get the baby out with a fishing knife. After the surgery he finds the woman’s husband, in the bunk above her dead. The husband had killed himself during the painful experience. Nick witnessed all of this.

The story is a good example of the “initiation story” - a short story where the protagonist comes into contact with an experience that is life-changing and makes the protagonist go through some kind of development. For instance, on the way to the camp in the boat, Nick is sitting in his father’s arms; on the way back he is sitting on the opposite end. The fact that Nick sits across his father on the way home symbolises Nick detaching from the childhood, from the pure ignorance you have as a child.

Indian Camp is written in a very minimalistic style, which is very characteristic for Hemingway’s writing style. He takes use of the “iceberg technique” where most of the story lies below the surface, “Show it don’t tell”. Hemingway believed that, like an iceberg, which only reveals one-eighth of itself above water, a story should also only reveal the most essential information. Which also means that the reader has to complete the story with its own imagination. In Indian Camp this means that we have to guess what Nick and the other characters inner reaction is on the birth and the suicide. Also because another minimalistic characteristic is that the writing style is very objective. “He pulled back the blanket from...
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