“Indian Camp”, by Ernest Hemingway, is a short story of initiation in which young Nick Adams accompanies his father, a physician, on a call to and African American or “Indian” camp, where the father delivers a baby by Cesarean section using only his jack-knife. The violence and pain of the birth contrast sharply with the ease of the suicide of the pregnant women’s husband, which was brought on by her screams and introduce Nick to the realities of birth and death.
At the beginning of the story, Dr. Adams, Nick’s father, takes Nick and his uncle George on a trip in a boat, rowed by the Indians, across the river to an Indian camp to help a “very sick women”. Initially, the impression of Nick is that he is very naïve and reliant on his father. Hemingway’s use of setting allows this to be portrayed. Nick is described as ‘lying in his father’s arms’ as the boat sets off across the river, suggesting insecurity and fear in Nick’s personality. This setting is coupled with the ‘boats starting off in the dark’. It is night time when the boats leave for the Indian camp; however, there is also a deeper meaning. The ‘darkness’ symbolizes Nick’s lack of knowledge of life and death. Another indefinite word used by the author to convey Nick’s naivety is ‘cold’. This reflects again how Nick is metaphorically ‘out in the cold’ about life and his lack of awareness of the more undesirable aspects of the world such as death, racism and poverty that are encountered in this short story.
On this journey, it could be that Nick’s father is trying to address Nick’s naivety. This is because Nick’s father, on many occasions, uses a matter of fact tone when informing Nick of what he is doing when he is delivering the Indian woman’s baby, ‘what she is going through is labour.’ Dr. Adams appears very keen for Nick to see what his job is like and even asks if he ‘likes being an interne’. However, this is not how the change in Nick is demonstrated and Hemingway uses irony to show that Dr....
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