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Big Two-Hearted River by Ernest Hemingway

Title: Big Two-Hearted River by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was an American author and journalist known for The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom The Bell Tolls and A Farewell To Arms, as well as other works. His adventurous spirit took him traveling as a reporter for the Spanish Civil War, fishing in the Caribbean, and his writing earned him a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

The main character, Nick, of “Big Two-Hearted River” is a soldier returning home and learning to enjoy a simpler live. Through the narrative we learn that he is reorienting himself with a landscape that he once knew.

He lives simply making camp where he wills but refuses to deny himself the few luxuries that make any place home.   As a traveler, he can bring anything he can carry so these simple pleasures are the most basic of fare, coffee, pork and beans, and spaghetti (1267).

Nick works to establish and maintain order in the construction of his camp, and operates looking towards the future.

He has packed enough material to make a comfortable tent with cheesecloth mosquito netting to keep out the bugs.  He has a grill for cooking, a coffee pot, he knows the best ways to catch grasshoppers and store them as bait.  He looks towards the future, preserving the grasshopper “lodging house” (1269) so he can find them easier the next day.  Nick works on his flapjacks too.    He uses oiled paper to preserve his food to eat for lunch.  These and other simple activities show him to be a methodical individual used to established order (perhaps from his training as a soldier).  He carries this order over to his everyday activities as we see in Hemingway’s short story.

Basically, Nick is the sort of guy I’d want to go camping with and that’s why I enjoyed this short story.


Source Reading:  The American Tradition in Literature,  11th ed. Ed. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. Columbus: The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009. 1205-1210.


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Lauren Miller is a Midwestern born writer with a passion for Jesus, the written word, and dogs. She has seventeen years of experience in the library field and reviews books for the Historical Novels Review (UK). Lauren is the Managing Web Editor and writer for The Scribe, a web publication of the St. Louis Writers Guild, where she also serves as their Director of Communications. She likes to spend her free time enjoying period films, discovering new reads, and being surrounded by other people’s pets. Lauren, her husband, and their wily Maine Coon (who isn’t quite a dog) live in Missouri. You can learn more about Lauren’s writing at LaurenJoanMiller.com.

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