In the story "The Killers” we again meet with
Nick. Here the author shows us something else that Nick has to face with. The
action takes place in the lunch-room. Here Nick meets with Al and Max. They
want to kill one man whose name is Ole. But actually we can’t understand why
they want to do this, what the reasons for this are. That is why Nick just
can’t stop asking the men about this. But the killers just tied him up and put
a towel into his mouth. At the end of the story Nick sees Ole and maybe this understanding
of some things, like for example that he won’t be able to help this poor man,
that he won’t be able to stop the killers gives such a great impression to a
boy. But Nick has to overcome this, no matter how hard it would be. But here we
also shouldn’t forget that Nick is not a very strong person and maybe some
sides of the life make him suffer a lot and it won’t be so easy to get rid of
this feeling of powerless in some situations.
Actually to my mind this story is one of the
main stories in the book. This is not a detective story and perhaps that is the
main reason why we can’t learn what the men want to kill Ole for. But this is
only one side of the story. Again violence and killing for nothing are here.
But the key-theme isn’t concerned with these killers but with Nick, with his
behavior in such a situation. He knows about the men’s intention to kill an
innocent man and he can choose whether to tell Ole about it and therefore to
prevent the murder or to keep silence and let the killers do their job. But of
course it’s clear that the man will be killed and I guess this feeling of doom
really torments Nick. And this is quite cruel. But on the other hand, maybe
this story helps the reader to understand Nick himself and the message that the
author sends to us better.
In this story Nick continues to learn the real life. But sometimes he
faces things he just can’t understand because of different reasons.
Nick meets two people who appear to be killers. They come to the
lunchroom where the young boy is chatting with his uncle George. The killers,
their names are Al and Max, tell they are going to kill Ole Anderson, a person
who comes here every day at 6 o’clock to have his supper. Fortunately, Mr.
Anderson doesn’t come this day, so Max and Al have to go away.
While being with the killers Nick is in a great danger. He can be
killed, but he doesn’t seem to be frightened. More than that, the young boy is
amazed and interested in what is happening. He wants to know why the killers
want to kill Mr. Anderson, but they don’t explain him and George the reasons. So
Nick decides to visit Ole Anderson and to warn him. But, in Ole’s house the
young boy becomes astonished because of the behavior and mood of the man. Mr.
Anderson just lies on his sofa and doesn’t want to do anything with situation.
He seems to be apathetic. The man thanks Nick for the warning and says, that he
is not going to anything.
Nick comes to his uncle and tells him about the conversation with Ole
Anderson. Nick is a very sensitive boy, so he is going to get out of the town,
because he can’t stand Mr. Anderson’s behavior. George tells him not to think
about the situation. And he is right, because when a person faces a phenomenon
he can’t understand or explain, it’s better for him just not to think about it
and to make up mind to it.
Nick really wants to change the situation. But he can’t understand how a
person with the death-warrant can be so calm and indifferent. Yes, the young
boy doesn’t know the reasons for such a situation, and this makes him
perplexed. In the story we see, that there are things Nick just can’t
understand. He wants to study out these things, but can’t because of his age.
He is young and thinks he will never die. But here he meets a person who doesn’t
care about his life and death. Probably, Nick will understand the situation,
but not now.
Every time I have to prepare for the class of Home Reading devoted to
Hemingway I collect myself and read what I should read. My emotions change from
negative to rather negative. I get bored and annoyed.
But this time a strange thing happened to me. I suppose I've gained
understanding of the story "The killers". When reading I was
interested rather than annoyed. Maybe, because I could understand Nick's
It's quite evident that only the author knows all the essence he wanted
to put into his story. But I dare say that the main character here is Nick.
He's gone through emotional stress and experienced very strong feelings. His
young psyche has to adjust to such a life, to such conditions when people are
killed nearly for nothing. Nick escapes, he doesn't want to be somehow related
to Ole's death.
So, we can say that from story to story Nick is getting more and more
acquainted with the world surrounding him.
The action took place in
Henry’s lunch room. It was getting dark. There are 5 main characters in the
story. Nick, George and Sam and 2 guests Al and Max. Guests were dressed like
twins, but their faces were different, their behavior was provocative and aggressive.
They asked George to call for the cook, for the nigger Sam. They spoke like
they hated niggers. When Sam came Al took him and Nick in the kitchen. The door
shut after them. George was left in the room with Max. Max said that they had
come to kill Ole Anderson. He was boasting about it. They were just
mercenaries; they have never even seen him. They were killing for a friend,
just to oblige a friend. They were absolutely cold-blooded about the matter. So
they waited for Ole in this lunch room to kill. The atmosphere is quite
negative, clock as symbol of limitedness of the life, the mirror as a symbol of
falsity. On any way, they didn’t wait till he came. They went out the door.
George watched them pass arc-light and cross the street. The next scene took
place in Ole’s house. Nick went there to warn Ole about the killers. But Ole
didn’t want to know anything about them, because he accepted the idea that he
couldn’t do anything about it. He was through with all that running around. So
Nick understood that they really would kill him and he couldn’t help Ole. He
wanted to get out of this town.
I think that this
story is not about "the killers," nor is it about Ole Andreson.
Rather, the story is about Nick Adams' confrontation with unmitigated evil,
represented by the two gangsters, Al and Max. It is about
Nick’s new experience. I think he loves life very much, he wants to live. And
in this story he sees Ole, who doesn’t want to struggle to remain alive.