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Essay/Term paper: Hemingway's portrayal of nicks consolation

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Ernest Hemingway

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Hemingway"s Portrayal of Nick"s Consolation

Webster"s Dictionary defines comfort as, "to give strength, hope to, or to console" (61). People find strength or consolation in different ways. Each person has a unique manner and need for that special thing that comforts them. Baker writes that: "Hemingway , on several accounts, writes of a man named Nick Adams. Hemingway uses Nick throughout most of his stories. Primarily, he uses this character in about five stories that have been grouped together that critics refer to as "The Education of Nick Adams" (129). Adams is Hemingway"s character that critics believe to be his means of writing about his own life. Hemingway shows us that Nick finds his consolation in his father.
Hemingway"s depiction of Mrs. Henry Adams, Nick"s mother, portrays her to be an overbearing and obnoxious woman. Benson describes Mrs. Adams as: "Nicks mother is a woman who smothers sweetly with that peculiar self righteous intensity which is born of Victorian moral certainty" (6). Mrs. Adams constantly questions the actions of Dr. Adams and Nick. According to Jackson Benson, after the row with Dick Boulton in "The Doctor and the Doctor"s Wife," Mrs. Adams only attempts to second guess Dr. Adams.
Instead of backing her husband up or sympathizing with him, Mrs. Adams scolds her husband and expresses the suspicion that it was Dr. Adams who caused all the trouble. Her tone effectively reduces the

doctors status to that of a little boy. Her further refusal to believe her husband after patronizingly urging him not to "try to
keep anything from me" belittles him into a posture not only of a naughty little boy, but a sulky and not even a very trustworthy one (8).
Hemingway shows Mrs. Adams almost as an evil empress who wants control over her family. The setting around Mrs. Adams gives the reader an impression of power. Benson describes the setting as:
Like a queen bee or despotic invalid, Mrs. Adams sends forth her pronouncements from a darkened room. With the blinds drawn against the harsh light of reality (a familiar image in Contemporary American Fiction)…(8).
Hemingway also gives the reader a sense of feeling, the same feeling Dr. Adams was feeling when his wife was second guessing him in the story. Benson shows Mrs. Adams" attitude and the aggravation Dr. Adams felt:
…And her stubborn blindness and self righteousness is given further impetus by Hemingway"s device of making her a
Christian Scientist. Mrs. Adams" denial of what we have just seen to be true effectively creates in the reader the same irritated frustration which causes Dr. Adams to leave the house to go hunting, slamming the door behind him (8).
Throughout the story Mrs. Adams underminds Dr. Adams. This gives the reader a plain view on how Nick and his father would look to each other for piece-of-mind.

Nick"s father, Dr. Henry Adams, appears in "The Doctor and the Doctor"s Wife" as a kind and gentle man with patience of steel. Hemingway tells the reader of Dr. Adams" great love for hunting and fishing. He also demonstrates Dr. Adam"s ability to maintain his self control. "He was a busy and kindly physician whose chief advocations were hunting and fishing"(Baker 129). Dr. Adam"s, when questioned by his wife, remains calm. A slight tone of irritation is assumed due to his dialogue, and actions. Throughout the entire discussion with his wife he still his able to keep is composure. "The doctor wiped his gun carefully wife a rag. He pushed the shells back against the spring of the magazine. He sat with the gun on his knees. He was very fond of it. Then he heard his wife"s voice from the darkened room"(75). Mrs. Adams questions his explanation of the fight with Dick, then attempts to justify her argument. "He stood up an put the shotgun on the corner behind the dresser".
"Are you going out, dear?", his wife said.
"I think I"ll go for a walk," the doctor said (75).
Dr. Adams" coolness is demonstrated here. Instead of becoming outraged, he bottles his feelings up inside and turns to his son for comfort.
Nick and his father had a special bond, a bond that only can be created through a father and son relationship. The bond that unites the two is comparable to many things, the experiences a teacher has with and eager student, or the satisfaction a professor gets when a young pupil completes an assigned task with an above average outcome is measurable to the happiness Nick"s father got out of teaching him about nature. "Nick"s father, Dr. Henry Adams, played a notable part in Nick"s early education" (Baker 129). In the short story "Indian Camp", Hemingway writes, "In the early morning , on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure he would never die (70). Dr. Adam"s and Nick"s bond not only unified them with nature but it also allowed them to alienate themselves from Mrs. Adams. When the three were together, it seems as she was the "third wheel", a kind of add "man" out. The last paragraph in the "Doctor and the Doctor"s wife" resembles this type of activity.
"Your mother wants you to come an see her," the doctor said.
"I want to go with you," Nick said. His father looked down at him. "All right,
come on then," his father said. "Give me the book, I"ll put it in my pocket."
"I know where there"s black squirrels, Daddy," Nick said. "All right," said his
father. "Let"s go there" (76).
This last sequence portrays their father-son unity, the disregard for Mrs. Adams, and the common knowledge of their true feelings. Nick"s father put the book in his pocket so Nick wouldn"t have to go back into the house. Dr. Adams understood Nick"s need for comfort at that present time.
Through hunting and fishing, Nick became close to his father. Benson shows the similarities that appeal both to Nick and his father:
Hunting and fishing become not only a means of escape and masculine identification for the Hemingway protagonist: but they also offer opportunities for a release from anxiety. Hunting and fishing are continual symbols for the attempt of the Hemingway boy to identify himself with the father…(9).

Hemingway symbolizes Nick"s need for a male role-model by using hunting to be the common thread that he and his father can both relate to without coming out and saying they need each other for support. Benson characterizes nicks need for his father by showing the relationship between hunting and his need for male bonding:
Hunting becomes for Ernest-Nick the male direction, and Nick"s appeal at the end of "The Doctor and Doctor"s Wife" to go with his father is a plaintive cry for masculine assertion which is echoed down through the Corridors of Hemingway"s fiction (9).
These acts are symbolic of Nick"s attempt throughout the stories to avoid his mother and embrace his father.
Hemingway"s stories have a great deal of "hidden" or deep meaning. "The Doctor and the Doctor"s Wife" gives the reader an impression that Hemingway is writing of a specific instance in his own life that made him turn to his own father for comfort. Joseph DeFalco explains how Nick attempts to seek his comfort in his father by unconsciously attempting to reconstruct the relationship he has with his father. When he told his father "I know where black squirrels are" (76), Nick was putting himself in the position of the "guide" (167). Nick now has become an equal to his Dr. Adams. They both are on the same level. They both have things to teach and show each other. Nick"s great want, or better stated, need for consolation is met. Nick"s comfort zone is found in what"s familiar, his father.


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