Tag Archives: suicide

Masculinity in Hemingway

“He pulled back the blanket from the Indian’s head. His hand came away wet. He mounted on the edge of the lower bunk with the lamp in one hand and looked in. The Indian lay with his face towards the wall. His throat had been cut from ear to ear. The blood had flowed down into a pool where the body sagged the bunk. His head rested on his left arm. The open razor lay, edge up, in the blankets” (Hemingway 18).

Hemingway, Ernest. “Indian Camp.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1925. Print.

This scene portrays the role of masculinity in the novel. The act of suicide by the Indian is a feminine act and that fact that an Indian man did it and a white man, a doctor, found him makes him not as masculine as the white man. Instead of facing his problems, he turned away from them, literally because he was facing the wall, and he killed himself rather than staying through the delivery and raising the child.

Life and Death

“Is dying hard, Daddy?” “No, I think it’s pretty easy, Nick. It all depends.”

Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1958. Print.

The conversation between the boy and his father was a compelling and moving moment in the short story, “Indian Camp.” After witnessing the death and suicide of an Indian Man, the son asks his father if death is hard, and his response was vague, but profound. Death is easy but life is difficult. I believe that was what the Doctor was trying to explain to his son. It is more challenging and arduous to face your problems and fears and overcoming them than it is to simply just quit or run away.  The brief conversation between the pair I believe was what made the short narrative something special.

A Little Affair

“‘Ought to have a look at the proud father. They’re usually the worst sufferers in these little affairs,’ […] He pulled the blanket away from the Indian’s head. His hand came away wet. […] The Indian lay with his face toward the way. HIs throat had been cut from ear to ear. The blood had flowed down into a pool where his body sagged the bunk. His head rested on his left arm. The open razor lay, edge up, in the blankets” (18).

The doctor makes a statement that  generally fathers cannot stand to watch a Caesarian being performed on their wives, and that they experience great pain just by witnessing the event, but then he discovers that the father who was seemingly calm could not bear to live. I think it is interesting how a birth and a death occur in the same room and within minutes of one another. The language used in this passage is “matter of the fact” because there is nothing poetic or flowery about the Indian’s suicide. I thought it was interesting how Nick and Uncle George had names but the Indian characters did not. This may suggest that the “little affair” that occurred in the shanty that night was not unique to that couple. Other Indian fathers had committed suicide, or more generally speaking, other Indians had been suffering.

Hemingway, Ernest. “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 18. Print.