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The Soldier's Voices in Hemingway's In Our Time

The soldier's voices in Hemingway's (1930) In Our Time demonstrate Hemingway's belief that war in absurd, unpredictable, and unheroic. Through the recurring character of Nick Adams, Hemingway demonstrates how those who experienced the "hell" of war firsthand are often change by war and spend their time after the war trying to leave it behind and readjust to civilian life. This analysis will show how Nick's character changes before, during, and after the war in these stories, from an idealistic, patriotic youth who considered combat heroic to a wounded veteran trying to adjust to civilian life in a way that will leave his trauma due to war behind.

We see the young Nick Adams fishing in one story. Ironically, the young Nick Adams comes to an appreciation of nature and existence in this story, dreamily believing as he rows a boat with his father in the early morning that he is certain he will never "die," (Hemingway, 1930). In a sense, as much as the appreciation of being immersed in nature makes Nick believe he will never die, Hemingway is really showing that before his war experiences Nick could not accept that he is a part of nature and will die like everything else in it.

Before the war, Nick has idealistic impressions of war as something noble and heroic. His patriotism and his belief in the cause he is fighting for begin to change when Nick encounters the brutal realities of war. We see he also relates to nature in chapter iv, when he is admiring not only the hunter versus hunted nature of war but also starts to gain a measure of respect for a worthy adversary, "Their officers were very fine," (Hemingway, 1930, p. 37). In this manner, Nick begins to realize the interconnectedness of all human beings and the absurd and unpredictable nature of war. He begins to understand that by chance or fate he could just as easily be on the side of the enemy, for both sides are made up of human beings.


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The Soldier's Voices in Hemingway's In Our Time. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:11, December 07, 2016, from