Big Two Hearted River Essay

1718 words - 7 pages

Big Two Hearted River Ernest Hemmingway The Big Two Hearted River, by Ernest Hemmingway, is a short story about a man on a fishing trip. This same man was trying to escape his memories of war. Nick, a former soldier on the Italian front, still was deeply troubled about the war even though he had left the battlefields. Nick went on a fishing trip to a place where he and his father once fished. He was a skillful and experienced fisherman. It was a physically demanding, daylong hike deep into the wilderness of northern Michigan. On his hike he found a burned-out town and landscape, which was a result of the fire, but he noted the river seemed unaffected. The predominant effect of the story was that the psychological stress of war on a person persists long after war is over. Nick had fought on the Italian frontier and was wounded. Even though he had left the battle zone, he still had memories of battle. His actual wound had healed, but psychologically he had not. Nick did not want to think about this painful memory because he did not want to go back. Ernest Hemmingway's main theme was about an individual testing oneself. Nick Adams, the individual in this story, was struggling against the psychological effects that he faced. He went into the wilderness to exert himself, and this physical challenge kept his mind off of his wartime memories. He could have stayed and fished on the bridge where he saw plenty of fish, but instead he wanted the physical exertion, so he climbed the hills and hiked deeper into the woods. The author achieved this predominant effect, by his use of imagery and symbolism. Physically Nick was out of battle and away from war, but mentally the war still affected him. "These were just ordinary hoppers, but all a sooty black in color." Even though these grasshoppers were not in the actual fire, they had been hopping around the charred landscape, which caused them to appear black. This symbolized that even though the war was over, the effects of war were far-reaching and long lasting. The war had ended, but the effects of war lingered. The ""¦the burned over stretch of hillside, where he had expected to find the scattered houses of the town"¦" symbolized the destruction of war. "Nick sat down against the charred stump and smoked a cigarette." Everything in the town had been affected; the same way that the war affected everyone it encountered. The "burned over town" had been destroyed by fire, like war had destroyed land and also people. The fire that destroyed the town represented the war and the damage that it caused. The charred remains represented the devastation of war. Nick alluded to his reaction to the war when he spoke about the memory of his friend, Hopkins, making coffee. "The coffee was bitter. Nick laughed. It made a good ending to the story. His mind was starting to work. He knew he could choke it because he was tired enough." Nick could "choke out" the...

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