Ernest Hemingway - Indian Camp


Indian Camp, written with the aid of Ernest Hemingway, is a small portion of a story about Nick, his father and his uncle George going to the poor Native American town to assist the woman who is in labor. The book does not appear to have a clear theme as to why it is important. It is difficult to understand what the author is attempting to put across. However, the book seems to focus on the minorities and acknowledges their pain and suffering. At many times, emotional stories give us the take of the specific characters towards the touching side of the story. However, in this book, it is not clear how Nick’s family is emotionally attached to the poor Native American family that they pay a visit.

The Story

The story starts with an introduction describing the setting and the characters. It becomes lively when Nick starts to ask questions about where they are going. It is from the questions that we get to know they are heading to a Native American family to see a sick woman. Nick’s dialogue is logical but distant because he derives his emotions from the Native American family. His questions focus more on understanding why the family lives the way it does. Nick’s role in this tragedy is about addressing the subject of the story which is poverty and separation. The story explains the Native American couple who go through excruciating pain having the baby. The family has been waiting for a doctor for two days now to come and help the woman to deliver. Nick questions a lot to show us the visions of the events happening in the Indian village. He starts by asking, “Where are we going, Dad?” and then follows, “Oh,” which is the end of the conversation. The response Nick gives sounds more disconnected to the question that he makes at the beginning. He questions about something that he does not know, and when he gets an answer, that is the end of his inquiry; he does not want to know more about the disturbance.

Evidence of Nick's Inability to Care

There is evidence that proves Nick’s inability to care about others. Towards the end of the story, the Indian father kills himself probably because he couldn’t bear with his wife’s suffering. Nick tries to find out the answers to what happened, and he asks his dad, “Do many men kill themselves,” “Do many women.” After those inquiries, Nick quickly switches off to another topic and asks the whereabouts of Uncle George, which is useless to know and disconnects from the conversations that they are having. We expect much from Nick when he is answered, but he does not show any sympathy to the Indian family.

The Setting of the Story

The location of the story is the Native American territory, where is the bleak place for a community to survive. It is observed when the doctor and the Indians go to the sick woman’s house; they pass in a road soaked with dew. The woman also stays in a wooden bunk showing how poor the family is. However, the family shows little concern about their tragedy. Two hard working young Native American men are there for background decorations. In the beginning, two Indians are at the lake shore waiting for three to arrive. Even in the boat, the two Indians are the laborer for the doctor’s family. After arriving at the place, two Indians hold the pregnant woman down with Uncle George. It is evident from the book that the doctor’s family overlooks the two Indians at the river. Nowhere in the story do we see them greeting or thanking the Indians for helping them cross the river. The two Indians get little attention even though they play the leading role in every scene. They are treated as such because they are not important to the story; they are laborers, but not the main characters. Nick knows this, and he does not even thank them. To be fair, there is a great deal in this story we do not see.

Description of the Woman's Shanty

The place of the woman’s shanty shows the hard life of Indians where the doctor’s family does not understand the way of their living. The narration says, ‘The room smelled awful.’ There are wooden beds and dirty blankets in the space. And the doctor does not give any second thought to change the location to a cleaner space. It is obviously a dirty place for her to have a baby, but the doctor does not care. He boils his instruments – he arguably is doing what he can in the situation provided. In shorthand, the doctor and uncle do not pay attention to the sanitation of the surrounding. And Nick does not see her and her place as a hardship; he is convinced that it is just a separate life where he won’t be staying so long. It is evident that Native Americans’ hard life does not draw any important notion. Ultimately, Nick’s family concerns little about the woman and the baby.

Mood of the Story

Of course, the general flow of story resounds more like a reading a journal or an article from a newspaper, which makes the story’s mood more emotionally compromised and even indifferent. The narrator of the story sounds like a person who knows well about Nick and his father. However, the narrator only mentions what is necessary to develop it. They say the setting of the story and acutely describe the change of the scene. It speaks about what the doctor does and finds out throughout the story, but it is not clear of their feelings about such horrible incident that they all witness. In this sense of addressing emotionless and blunt ways, the effect of mood making can be a bit harsh to everyone. The story should have captured the emotional side of the doctor’s family. Helping the woman deliver becomes less important if the immediate problem like the death of the Indian is not addressed. In these ways, Nick’s family shows their negligence upon the lives of the different world, where they think that it is not part of their life.

Description of the Lower-Class Society

The story’s primary purpose is to describe the lower-class society of Native Americans. Instead, Nick, his father and his uncle, who are in the part of a presumably white racial domain, are the main protagonists speaking for the Indian community. The woman in labor gets little attention to the extent that she is an awful screamer. Nick wants his dad to give her some anesthetic to soothe her down, but the doctor does not have it. It is just right after knowing that the Native American husband found dead in his chair with a slit throat. The dad tells Nick that he shouldn’t have brought Nick in to witness all the trouble. However, they are not considering what has happened to the family of the Indian baby. Nick and his father’s conversation happens to be the most inconsiderately casual; they do not speak about the abhorrence of the event. The focus deliberately de-focalizes from the Indian family, which is important because it intensifies the carelessness of Nick’s family about the other lives in other places.


Nick and his family who went down to save the lives of the Indian lady and the baby can be a noble deed. They might be a little tired and weary to care about the hygiene of the place or talk a bit nicer about the incident. Maybe it is not given in the story where Nick’s family expresses their grief to the family or the acquaintances of the family. However, it is too factual that Nick, his father, and his uncle puts themselves away from feeling something rational: need to understand the lives in the different part of the world where the situation can be morbid and regretful. It is evident that they are not emotionally attached to the family, maybe because it is not of their class or because they are from a different world, or because the author does not display the part where they show their feelings towards the family.

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