Comparing Mortality in Hemingway's Indian Camp and Joyce's Araby

Comparing Mortality in Hemingway's Indian Camp and Joyce's Araby

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The Subject of Mortality in Hemingway's Indian Camp and Joyce's Araby


Nick came face to face with his own mortality in Hemingway's "Indian Camp" and, like most of us, denied its inevitability, evidenced by the last line of the story: "In the early morning lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt sure that he would never die." (31) His first experience with the beginning of life was far from the joyous occasion most of us are taught to associate with birth. Coupled with his first experience with a violent suicide in the same setting, his feeling that he would never die is understandable. I have experienced the loss of a family member in childbirth at an early age and my reaction was much the same as Nick's. It is that same conviction that causes us to continue to do things that we know is dangerous: that feeling that one has that "it will never happen to me".

Perhaps Nick also learned a lesson from the callousness displayed by his uncle and father toward the Indian woman as well as the other Indians in the story. Nick's father regards the screams of the Indian woman as unimportant, as evidenced by his comment to Nick: "No, I haven't any anaesthetic," his father said. "But her screams are not important. I don't hear them because they are not important." (29) Yet later, when Nick questions him as to why the husband killed himself, he admits, "I don't know, Nick. He couldn't stand things, I guess." (30) Maybe Nick surmised that the woman's screams his father considered unimportant and dismissed so readily may have led to her husband's suicide.

The protagonist in Joyce's "Araby" learns a different lesson: the bitter disappointment that is sometimes the result of youthful infatuation. The yearning he feels for Mangan's sister is an emotion of which only he is aware: "I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood".

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