NOW I LAY ME
Insomnia is a great problem for a person. As we can see in "Now I lay
me” Nick also suffers from it. But every man has different reasons for
insomnia. For our main character it is a fear: "I had been living for a long
time with the knowledge that if I ever shut my eyes in the dark and let myself
go, my soul would go out of my body.” So Nick is just used not to sleeping. But he
is grown-up enough to beware of losing his soul while sleeping. In my opinion,
Nick worries. People call this state a "nervosism”. It’s natural for people
who pass through many difficulties in their lives or outlive something really
shocking and terrible.
So every night Nick has to do something, because he just can’t sleep.
And he recollects. His life. Most of all he likes to recollect his childhood,
when he was fishing. Maybe the reason for it is that his childhood was more peaceful
In the story Nick speaks with John about insomnia and the whole life.
His friend thinks that main Nick’s problem is that he is not married. John
has a wife and three daughters. They’re waiting for their breadwinner at home
in Chicago. Nick seems to be alone in this world. Even on the field he continues
to learn this life. And war shows the cruelest side of the world. In his
childhood Nick had his parents, then friends, and now he doesn’t have any close
friends. Maybe that’s the reason for his insomnia. Nick just doesn’t have any
support in this life. Nobody is waiting for him. Family means not only close people,
but a place where you can be in safety. Family and home can become the
reference point. And from this point Nick can build his life.
Probably John is right while convincing Nick that he needs to marry some
And all he's got
He can't sleep. He's afraid to sleep. If one sleeps one may die. He
believes that it's true. And that it can happen to him. He is just lying and
recollecting his past...
He's on the war. He witnesses death and suffer, he is surrounded by
corpses and those who are worse that dead, having their souls rotten and
corrupted by everyday violence. He sees the dark side of the life and this
darkness becomes his own. Broken, changed... now he's not a naïve young boy he
used to be. But still there is a thin thread between nowadays_he and he_in_the
_past. This thread is called Reminiscences.
He thinks about his childhood and adolescence, about his parents,
friends, acquaintances... he tries to remember everything – even the smallest
detail. He's influences by this war and he understands that it has spoiled him,
has mutilated his self. But still every night he tries to back to his past –
just not to fell asleep, not to die. Just because he knows – if he stops
recollecting he will drop off to sleep and then he'll definitely fade away.
Till a man has reminiscences he's alive. And his reminiscences are the
only one thing he's got now.
If I should die before
I pray the Lord my
soul to take.
…The peaceful lines which infuse with hope…But
he is hopeless; sleepless nights have become ‘a habitual ritual’ which is the
only source of his existence. He wanders in his dreams far away from where he
is, he is fishing, he is going through the vistas of bygone times. But he keeps
awake. He prays for those people whom he has seen only once, for those whom he
will never see again. The fishing rod on his shoulder, he is striding miles and
miles along lakes and rivers, fields and meadows. And he is afraid. He is, unlike
most soldiers and heroes we meet on the pages of the novels ever written,
afraid of death, and his fear doesn’t seem to him irrational. The war knocked
him down and he is never to get on his feet. He is a long way off from what all
people call ‘life’. Marriage, happiness, coziness, and steadiness – he crossed these
things out of his days and nights.
When we read "Now I Lay Me”, we unconsciously
turn our mind to the book’s opening story "Indian Camp” when we first met the
main character, Nick Adams. His childhood, that is the time when he just
started to come into contact with evil, is roughly juxtaposed to the time when
the war rushed into his life and crippled him both physically and spiritually.
The very title, the line borrowed from a prayer for children, hints at this
tremendous distance that divides our lyrical hero from his happy past.