Biographical References in and Hemingway’s Male Characters Essay

Throughout the Nick Adams and other stories featuring dominant male figures, Ernest Hemingway teases the reader by drawing biographical parallels to his own life. That is, he uses characters such as Nick Adams throughout many of his literary works in order to play off of his own strengths as well as weaknesses: Nick, like Hemingway, is perceptive and bright but also insecure. Nick Adams as well as other significant male characters, such as Frederick Henry in A Farewell to Arms and Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises personifies Hemingway in a sequential manner. Initially, the Hemingway character appears to be impressionable, but he evolves into an isolated individual. Hemingway, due to an unusual childhood and possible post traumatic injuries received from battle invariably caused a necessary evolution in his writing shown through his characterization. The author once said, “Don’t look at me. Look at my words” (154).Hemingway constantly draws parallels to his life with his characters and stories. One blatant connection is with the short story, “Indian Camp,” in which an Indian baby is born and its father dies. As Nick is Hemingway’s central persona, the story revolves around his journey across a lake to an Indian village. In this story, Nick is a teenager watching his father practice as a doctor in an Indian village near their summer home. In one particularly important moment, Hemingway portrays the father as cool and collected, which is a strong contrast to the Native American “squaw’s” husband, who commits suicide during his wife’s difficult caesarian pregnancy. In the story, which reveals Hemingway’s fascination with suicide, Nick asks his father, “Why did he kill himself, daddy?” Nick’s father responds “I don’t kno…

…York: Cambridge UP, 1996. 21-51

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Waldhorn, Arthur. Ernest Hemingway: A Collection of Criticism (Contemporary Studies in Literature). Chicago: Syracuse University Press, 1978.

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