Essay on Ernest Hemingway’s Uses of Weakness and Survival

Ernest Hemingway’s Uses of Weakness and SurvivalErnest Hemingway is one of the most recognized writers of the twentith century. In World War I, Hemingway drove ambulances for the Red Cross, and was seriously wounded. Hemingway was rejected by his mother, and felt forced to move away from home. These experiences had a profound emotional impact on him and his writings. As a result, Hemingway’s protagonists fulfill the heroic ideal of naturalistic views; and contrasts the weakness and survival of the men as seen in “Indian Camp”, “Snows of Kilimajaro” and “The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Whereas, in “Indian Camp”, Hemingway shows how Nick can endure the pain of childbirth, while the Indian father is weak and can not survive. Hemingway believes that “Only the strong survive,” (Hughes 128). Hemingway is not primarily interested in the shocking childbirth, but he is interested in its effect on Nick, who witnessed it. Thus, “Indian Camp” exhibits weakness and survival through the personalities and death of the characters. The story tells about what Hemingway is up to for his writing career. Nick’s father delivers an Indian woman’s baby by Caesarean section, with a jackknife and without anesthesia. Therefore, weakness is shown by the Indian father who is “to weak to stand the childbirth of his wife” (Young 40). The Indian father obviously has not experienced many hardships throughout his life. As a result of the pain his wife experiences, it is ultimately too much for the father to bare. He finally decides to kill himself. When the delivery is over Nick’s father looks on the top bunk and discovers the husband laying there with his head nearly cut off with a razor. The…

… Hemingway’s problem is that “… he had not been discovered in any act of cowardice but he himself knew that Brady 4 he had been frightened” (Atkins 50). One part of him accuses the other and insists on reparation. Fear is not to be condoned or rated as a sin throughout the story. Coward is a familiar character in Hemingway’s work but he is never the traditional cringing coward. Hemingway uses fear in relation to weakness and survival to test his character’s courage. Weakness and surival is the main point in these three short stories with each character except for Nick and his father. As a result, Hemingway has effectively displayed his belief of weakness and survival of his protagonists in the short stories of “Indian Camp”, “Snows of Kilimanjaro”, and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”, to reflect his experiences in life to his characters in his stories.

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