Indian Camp By Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway pulled from his past present experiences to develop his own
thoughts concerning death, relationships, and lies. He then mixed these ideas,
along with a familiar setting, to create a masterpiece. One such masterpiece
written early in Hemingway's career is the short story, "Indian Camp."
"Indian Camp" was originally published in the collection of "in

Our Time" in 1925. A brief summary reveals that the main character, a
teenager by the name of Nick, travels across a lake to an Indian village. While
at the village Nick observes his father, who is a doctor, deliver a baby to an

Indian by caesarian section. As the story continues, Nick's father discovers
that the newborn's father has committed suicide. Soon afterward Nick and his
father engage in a discussion about death, which brings the story to an end.

With thought and perception a reader can tell the meaning of the story. The
charters of Nick and his father resemble the relationship of Hemingway and his
father. Hemingway grew up in Oak Park, a middle class suburb, under the watchful
eye of his parents, Ed and Grace Hemingway. Ed Hemingway was a doctor who
"occasionally took his son along on professional visits across Walloon Lake
to the Ojibway Indians" during summer vacations (Waldhorn 7). These medical
trips taken by Ernest and Ed would provide the background information needed to
introduce nick and his father while on their medical trip in "Indian

Camp." These trips were not the center point of affection between Ed and

Ernest, but they were part of the whole. The two always shared a close
father-son bond that Hemingway often portrayed in his works: Nick's close
attachment to his father parallels Hemingway's relationship with Ed. The growing
boy finds in the father, in both fiction and life, not only a teacher-guide but
also a fixed refuge against the terrors of the emotional and spiritual unknown
as they are encountered. In his father Ernest had someone to lean on (Shaw 14).

In "Indian Camp," nick stays in his father's arms for a sense of
security and this reinforces their close father-son relationship. When Nick sees
the terror of death, in the form of suicide, his father is right there to
comfort him. From this we are able to see how Nick has his father to, physically
and mentally, "lean" on, much like Hemingway did (Shaw 11).

Hemingway's love for his father was not always so positive though, and he often
expressed his feelings about his situation though his literature. When

Hemmingway was young, his father persuaded him to have his tonsils removed by a
friend, Dr. Wesley Peck. Even though it was Dr. Peck who performed the painful
operation, Hemingway "always held it against his father for taking out his
tonsils without an anaesthetic" (Meyers 48). Hemingway saw the opportunity
to portray his father in "Indian Camp" as the cold-hearted man who had
his tonsils yanked out without anaesthetic. In a reply to Nick's question about
giving the Indian woman something to stop screaming, his father states,
"No. I haven't any anaesthetic...But her screams are not important. I don't
hear them because they are not important." (Tessitore 18) Hemingway lashed
out at his father one more time before the story ends. In "Indian

Camp," Hemingway uses the conversation between Nick and his father,
concerning the suicide of the Indian, to show his distaste for his own father's
suicide: 'Why did he kill himself, Daddy?' 'I don't know Nick.' 'He couldn't
stand things, I guess.' 'Do many men kill themselves, Daddy?' 'Not very many,

Nick...' 'Is dying hard, Daddy?' 'No, I think its pretty easy, Nick. It all
depends.' (Hemingway 19) Hemingway saw his father as a weak working man who
served his wife, Grace, unconditionally. Ed worked a full day to come home to
clean house, prepare food, and tend to the children. He had promised Grace that
if she would marry him, she would not have to do housework for as long as he
lived. Ill and depressed, Ed committed suicide in 1928. Hemingway later referred
to the situation by stating: "I hated my mother as soon as I knew the score
and loved my father until he embarrassed me with his cowardice...My mother is an
all time all American bitch and she would make a pack mule shoot himself, let
alone poor bloody father." (Meyers 212) Hemingway uses "Indian

Camp" to express his feelings that his father was a coward. He did this by
having Nick's father refer to suicide as being "pretty easy," which is
comparable to a coward's way out of