Insight Into Hemingway 's Use Of Racial Constructs
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Insight into Hemingway’s Use of Racial Constructs
Hemingway’s simple, straightforward writing style in “The Nick Adams Stories” does not leave much room for interpretation of the text. The reader must analyze the individual characters to gain a deeper understanding of their beliefs, background, and racial tendencies. Nick Adams, for example, seems to be very discriminatory towards American Indians and the black male he encounters throughout this collection of stories. Hemingway uses the character of Nick Adams to exemplify the racial stereotypes during his time period through Nick’s interactions with African Americans and American Indians. Although critics argue that Hemingway was the epitome of white male oppression, he uses racial constructs to highlight prejudiced differences found within the 1920s and the 1930s. Hemingway uses irony and racial stereotypes to help dissipate claims that people of color need to be held at a lesser standard than whites.
During the time the short stories of Nick Adams were originally published, between 1923 and 1933, segregation in America was prevalent. It was customary for whites to oppress, ridicule, and degrade African Americans and American Indians. In the short story “The Battler”, Ernest Hemingway uses the characters Ad Francis and Bugs to represent the differences in the ways colored people were treated during the times of segregation in America. As Nick is talking to Ad, he learns that Ad is actually the famous boxer Ad Francis, and gains a newfound respect for this instable man. But, as Ad’s friend Bugs is introduced, there is a shift in Nick’s personality as the narrator tells us, “It was a Negro’s voice. Nick knew from the way he walked that he was a Negro.” (Hemingway 51). While this ...
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...t caught him by surprise, not because he was more talented.
We are able to analyze Nick’s character through his actions and experiences, despite the fact that Hemingway doesn’t use first person point of view. Nick’s interactions with Bugs, Trudy, and Eddie give the reader insight to his mentality in regards to racial norms of the early 1900s. Although Nick uses discriminating terms when talking about Eddie and the narrator describes Bugs as a “Negro”, Hemingway cannot be labeled a racist for using these terms in his writing. Racism was very common in America during Hemingway’s lifetime. He calls Bugs “negro” and “nigger” while giving him a soft, overly polite voice towards Nick, a complete stranger. This signifies his stance against racism by ironically deconstructing the ideals that blacks were not as educated or as likely to become gentlemen as white males were.