Life and Death at the Indian Camp

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Nadine Watson
Scarborough 1
May 30, 2000

Hemingway assignment

Life and Death

One of the most prominent themes in Ernest Hemingway’s book of short stories, In Our Time, is the theme of life and death. In the short story entitled “Indian Camp” there was both a miraculous birth of a baby, and the sudden death of the father, who committed suicide during his wife’s labor. Interestingly enough, as Nick sits on the lake rowing with his father, he thinks of death, and feels sure that he will never die.

In inter-chapter five, there are several similarities which can be compared to the story “Indian Camp.” First of all, there is the recurrent theme of “life and death.” The officer in the story has the choice to live or die, like the father in the short story, however he chooses not to continue his life by allowing himself to be killed. In both stories, the conditions around both the Indian woman and the officer are somewhat morbid as well. The Indian camp came off as fairly dirty, with many other sick people around, and in the inter-chapter there were “wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard,” not to mention multiple other dead bodies. Minor details such as the setting and characters nearby helped to enforce the theme of life and death throughout the novel. Ironically enough as well, at the end of this story, as the officer is going to be killed, he is also sitting in water, similar to the way Nick was when he was contemplating death. Although the theme of life and death stands out strongly throughout the book, there are also multiple other themes, which cements the fact that these short stories were compiled to tell one larger story, not just as a compilation of short stories to be read separately.
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