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Hemingway: Big Two Hearter River Essay

1646 words - 7 pages

Human vs. Harmony In his collection "In Our Time" Hemingway deals with the problem of war. A senseless act of human cruelty, it can be dangerous enough to ruin what the human civilization has been creating and accumulating throughout the centuries for a month, a week, even a couple of days. In "Big Two-Hearted River," however, the author emphasizes on the fact that there is still one thing that unlike all temporary human creations could resist time innocent and respectful--the eternal nature. Nick, the main character in the short story, who has faced the human attempts to change the world around them by force and destruction, has come back to nature with the knowledge and willingness to appreciate its calm harmony and eternal cycle of life. As a fisherman, Nick is greatly moved by the place he has been fishing and all the experience related to the fishing itself. In the very beginning of the first part of the story the author gives the full picture of the remains of a town, which is completely burned and erased from the face of the earth. It seems that the landscape corresponds to the war that Nick has just come from. Everything is burned, even "the surface has been burned off the ground"(133). Strange to think about human progress when a single ignition can cause everything to disappear in a few seconds. It seems that what is left is "nothing but the rails" and the "foundations of the Mansion House hotel"--two sad signs of great ideas. Having transportation throughout the big wilderness that would connect people and make their isolation less unbearable and providing a boarding house, initially a symbol of hospitality are two of the greatest contributions of the human progress. Unfortunately, with their destructive nature, people tend to wreck and spoil everything in their way. In that town, humans have obviously started everything with good intentions but something went wrong with the ideas and they had to parish. Moving further in the country with Nick we encounter the first signs of life--the wild and unspoiled nature. Unlike everything that the human progress has touched, wild nature resists even the greatest disasters that happen. A really striking image-the black grasshoppers are a perfect example of one--after the fire, despite its devastative abilities, the grasshoppers are still there, they have not died in the heat. Instead, they have adapted to the new conditions by turning black. Nick realizes "that the fire must have come the year before"(136) but that the grasshoppers are still black. Eventhough the damage of the little insects looks permanent, the more important fact is that they have survived and adapted, no matter how little and helpless they are. Compared to the grasshoppers, even the most solid buildings, such as the hotel have not been able to survive the fire. Since he has come back from the war, Nick has changed. He has learned to appreciate all those little details of nature and not take them for...

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