Essay about Postcolonialism in Ernest Hemingway's Indian Camp

Essay about Postcolonialism in Ernest Hemingway's Indian Camp

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Ernest Hemingway attempts to describe the interactions of white Americans and Native Americans in his short story “Indian Camp.” By closely reading this short story using a Postcolonialist approach, a deeper understanding of the colonization and treatment of the Native Americans by the white Americans can be gained. Hemingway uses an almost allegorical story as he exposes the injustices inflicted by the white oppressors through his characters. Through his characters Hemingway expresses the traits of the colonizer and the colonized. Nick embodies innocence, the Doctor represents dismissal or denial, and George represents oppression. The nameless natives in the story juxtapose the white characters highlighting traits such as loss of identity, inability to properly cope with colonization, and fear of extinction.
     Ernest Hemingway grew up on the outer banks of Michigan, a section of the country with extensive integration of Native Americans and whites. Hemingway’s short story expresses actual events that he witnessed in his everyday life. The story contains several biographical parallels to Hemingway’s life as his father was a physician who often took young Ernest fishing at a camp in the Michigan woods similar to the one in his story (244). Because of these obvious biographical parallels, Hemingway has an understanding that enables him to write in a postcolonial fashion.
Postcolonialism originated in 1970. It “piggy backed” on the already existent study of African American literature. Postcolonialism quickly progressed and now encompasses literature from any culture that has been oppressed or colonized. Postcolonialist critics attempt to view the limited views and biases of colonialized countries. They continue to analyze a colonized culture and examine it in a manner of different ways: the culture that existed before the colozination; the culture that exists after the colonization; and the hybrid creations of the two (Bressler 268).
     By using Postcolonialism Hemingway is able to create characters that represent the features manifested in a colonized society. Hemingway uses Nick’s character to embody untainted innocence. Hemingway wanted to portray the cruel treatment of the Native American’s in a way that would substantially impact his readers. What better way to portray the cruel punishment than thro...


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... bunk while his wife is in labor and slits his throat. Hemingway uses this image to indicate that the Native American tribes were a dying breed. The tribes were on a downward spiral across the nation. At the time this was written Native American tribes on the East Coast had completely disappeared as a result of the white colonization. Hemigway’s horrific image further emphasizes and highlights the preeminence of the colonization of the Native Americans (247).
     Whether this short story was an attempt to describe childhood experiences or the persecution of the Native Americans, Hemingway wrote a riveting short encounter that captivates the readers’ minds and highlights the injustices inflicted on a Native American culture. It is clear through the story that colonized cultures often encounter a loss of identity, and adopt a different one that is bestowed on them from the dominant or parent colonizer. The oppressed have to deal with demeaning and difficult situations, but by educating readers and characterizing the wrongs, Hemingway opts for changes in the future. Hemingway paved the way for social change of Native Americans in a time that was lacking it.

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