This section contains 2,840 words
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The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway Summary & Study Guide Description
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
Nick Adams is in "Indian Camp," "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," "The End of Something," "The Three-Day Blow," "The Battler," "A Very Short Story," "Cross-Country Snow," "Big Hearted River," "The Killers," "Ten Indians," "A Way You'll Never Be," "Fathers and Sons," "Summer People," and "The Last Good Country."
Nicks Adams grows up in the countryside of Michigan and Wyoming. His father is a doctor and teaches him how to hunt and fish, while giving him many negative ideas about sexuality. Nick grows up with many friends from the local Indian tribe, including Billy. Nick's first love is Marjorie, but his friends convince him to break up with her. Nick has sexual relationships with many Indian girls, including Prudence and Trudy. As a young man, he flees from the police with his little sister, Littless.
Nick goes to Italy to serve in the Italian military. He experiences many of the horrors of war, including a serious injury that puts him in the hospital. After the war, Nick goes on a skiing trip through Europe, and then goes on many independent fishing trips in Wyoming and Michigan. Nick is widely considered to be an autobiographical character based on Hemingway's childhood and the emotional issues surrounding his service in Italy.
Harry is in "After the Storm," "One Trip Across," and "The Tradesman's Return."
Harry has a fishing boat and splits his time between his family home in Key West and his business location in Cuba. Harry engages in many illegal activities, including running illegal alcohol and illegal Chinese immigrants. Harry makes many decisions based on financial considerations that involve the sacrifice of many people, including close friends like his first mate, Eddie. The character of Harry is assumed to be made up of many of the experiences and stories of Hemingway while he was living in Key West during the end of his life.
Edwin Henry is in "The Denunciation," "The Butterfly and the Tank" ,"Night Before Battle," "Under the Ridge," "and "Landscape with Figures."
Edwin Henry is a filmmaker who is recording the battles of the Spanish Civil War. One of his favorite Madrid hangouts is Chicote's, which caters to Loyalists. Many of his experiences in Madrid involve incidents that happen at this restaurant. Edwin becomes friendly with many of the International Brigades in the area and films many of the battle scenes both in Madrid and in the caves surrounding the area. Edwin is a Loyalist, with strong connections to the falling Spanish Royal Government. The character of Edwin Henry is assumed to represent Hemingway's experiences during the Spanish Civil War, including his Loyalist sympathies and activities during the war.
Mr. Wheeler is in "I Guess Everything Reminds You of Something," and "Great News from the Mainland."
Mr. Wheeler is a writer who has a young son with an apparent talent in writing. When he discovers that his son has copied his prize-winning story, he realizes that something is seriously wrong with his son. Mr. Wheeler attempts to bond with his son throughout his life, including the time that his son spends in a mental institution.
Stevie Wheeler is in "I Guess Everything Reminds You of Something," and "Great News from the Mainland."
Stevie copies a story from a library book in order to win a school prize. Several years later, he is in a mental institution in Florida. He receives electric shock therapy among other treatments. He calls his father to announce his hoped-for recovery.
Francis Macomber of "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"
Francis Macomber is a wealthy man married to a once-beautiful woman names Margaret. The two of them go on a safari trip together. On the first day, Francis shoots and wounds a lion but is scared to pursue the animal in order to kill it. Everyone calls him a coward. The next day, he shoots and kills a buffalo. This gives him great confidence and makes him think he can escape from his unhappy life. His wife Margaret accidentally shoots at him when another buffalo charges at him.
Margaret Macomber of "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"
Margaret was once a beautiful woman. She is now married to Francis Macomber because he is wealthy. The two go on a safari trip together. After Francis fails to kill a lion, Margaret ridicules him. The next day, when he is successful, she senses the change in him and shoots him in the back of the head, claiming it is an accident.
Paco of "The Capital of the World"
Paco arrives from the Spanish countryside to work as a waiter in Madrid. He admires bullfighters and wants to become one. One night at the restaurant, he and his friend, Enrique, who works in the kitchen, play a bullfighting game. Enrique uses knives to simulate bull horns and charges at Paco. Paco dies in an accident during this game.
Manuel Garcia of "The Undefeated"
Manuel Garcia is a bullfighter. He goes to his friend, a bullfight promoter, to give him a job. The only thing available is a night match. Manuel competes in before a bored audience and defeats the bull after a long struggle. The crowd does not care about him, but he is content with his dream of bullfighting.
Jimmy of "A Train Trip," and "The Porter"
Jimmy lives with his father in the countryside. On a train trip to Canada, Jimmy and his father observe a scary encounter with two prisoners. Jimmy has a long conversation with the porter on the train, who describes how he has been affected by racism.
Jimmy's father of "A Train Trip," and "The Porter"
Jimmy's father is trying to teach his son to be a man. On the one hand, he includes his son in the plot with the prisoners on the train, in order for Jimmy to see the violence and blood. He also has a strong appetite for hard alcohol and spends a lot of the train trip passed out in his bed.
Littless of "The Last Good Country"
Littless is Nick Adams' younger sister. When Nick has to run away from the police, Littless goes with him. She wants to bond with her brother. Littless is one of the few positive female relationships in Nick's life. Nick is strongly protective of her and tries to take care of her on the trip.
Dr. Adams is in "The Indian Camp," "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," and "Ten Little Indians."
Dr. Adams is the strongest male influence on his son, Nick. Dr. Adams teaches his son to hunt and fish. He also teaches his son that sex is very bad. Nick grows up trying to understand his father and live up to his father's ideal of masculinity. This leads Nick to try and prove himself in hunting, fishing, and war. None of these are fulfilling to Nick's need to prove himself to his father. Even after his father's death, Nick is unable to come to terms with him.
Mrs. Adams of "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife"
Mrs. Adams is almost completely absent from Nick's life. Apart from some Christian Science Magazines, Nick's mother is completely negated in the stories of Nick's childhood. His major relationship is with his father, and briefly with his sister, Littless, who stands in as a neutral female figure.
Billy of "The End of Something," "The Three Day Blow," and "Ten Little Indians"
Billy is Nick's childhood friend. Billy plays many strange roles in Nick's life. At one point, Billy convinces Nick to break up with his girlfriend, Marjorie. Billy often goes on hunting trips with Nick. During these trips, Billy goes off alone so Nick can have sex with his sister, Trudy.
Prudence of "Ten Little Indians"
Prudence, an Indian girl, is Nick's girlfriend. When he comes home from a Fourth of July celebration, his father tells him that he saw Prudence in the woods with another man.
Trudy of "Fathers and Sons"
Trudy is the sister of Nick's friend, Billy. On hunting trips, Billy leaves Nick and Trudy alone so that they can have sex together.
David of "An African Story"
David and his father are in Africa. David sees an old bull elephant. His father goes to hunt the elephant, and David regrets having told his father about the elephant. The elephant represents loyalty to David while his father represents violence and blood sport. David is one of the many sons in Hemingway stories who feels betrayed by his father and yet needs to respect him as a man.
Helena of "The Strange Country"
Helena is much younger than her boyfriend, Robert. The two of them have run away from Helena's mother in London. They use fake names on their trip across the U.S.. Helena likes Robert to call her "daughter." In New Orleans, Helena confesses over absinthe that she has fantasies about saving Robert.
Robert of "The Strange Country"
Robert has had many wives and many problems with relationships. His relationship with Helena is very fatherly. He calls her "daughter." He worries that he will ruin their relationship in the same way that he ruined every other relationship. During their trip across country, he remembers traveling many of the same paths with his other wives or with his children. In New Orleans, Helena's stories about rescuing him make him feel very strange and he realizes that he is no longer in love with her.
Harry of "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"
Harry and his wealthy wife go on safari in Africa. Harry cuts himself and the wound turns gangrenous. Throughout the night, Harry is dying from the infection. Aside from the part where Harry dies, the story is believed to be highly autobiographical. Hemingway, himself, went on a safari financed by his wealthy wife.
Old Man at the Bridge of "The Old Man at the Bridge"
The old man has been evacuated from his hometown. On his way out, he becomes very tired and sits to rest under a bridge, though the sounds of the invading army are clearly heard in the distance. He is unable to run any further and has given up. He represents all the regular people who are caught up in and destroyed by war.
Liz Coates of "Up in Michigan"
Liz Coates is a simple girl who works as a housekeeper for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. She develops a crush on a local blacksmith, Jim Gilmore. They go on a walk one evening when Jim is drunk. Jim has sex with her against her will. She does not know what to do and leaves without saying anything to anyone.
Jim Gilmore of "Up in Michigan"
Jim Gilmore is one of Hemingway's ideal men. He makes a living off his work as a blacksmith and enjoys hunting. He drinks heavily and rapes Liz without any struggle or emotion. He most likely does not remember the encounter.
Marjorie of "The End of Something"
Marjorie is the first love of Nick Adams. Nick breaks up with her to please his friend, Billy. However, Nick regrets breaking up with her. Marjorie is one of a series of women that Nick is unable to maintain an emotional relationship with.
Adolph Francis of "The Battler"
Nick meets Adolph Francis when he jumps off a train. Adolph is a traveling homeless man who had a partner named Bugs. Adolph was a boxer who traveled with a girl who claimed to be his sister. He eventually married this girl. Adolph's violent reactions parallel Nick's complicated relationships with women, including his sister Littless.
Luz of "A Very Short Story"
When Nick is wounded in Italy, he meets Luz, a nurse. They develop a relationship and plan to marry after the war. When Nick returns home to the U.S., Luz writes him a letter stating that she has fallen in love with an Italian man and does not want to marry Nick anymore.
Harold Krebs of "Soldier's Home"
Harold Krebs returns from World War I without any significant war stories or experiences. Everyone feels that he is out of place. Harold tries to adapt to regular life in his hometown, but ends up disappointing everyone. He chooses to leave and to go to live in the city where he will not embarrass anyone else.
Hubert Elliot of "Mr. and Mrs. Elliot"
Hubert Elliot believes in sexual purity. He marries a woman much older than him because they are both sexually pure. Their marriage begins happily but over time, they develop separate lives, including separate sleeping arrangements. Hubert writes many poems during their marriage.
The American Couple
The American Couple is in "Cat in the Rain," "Out of Season," "In Another Country," "Hills Like White Elephants," "A Canary for One," and "The Sea Change."
Although they are not necessarily the same American couple, these couples all fall into the same patterns. An American woman and an American man always seem to be on the verge of ending their relationship. Some couples divorce, some separate, and others have an abortion. All of them share the same inability to connect on an emotional level.
Peduzzi of "In Another Country"
Peduzzi is an old Italian gardener who finds a new source of money in showing around tourists. He does not understand what these tourists want to do or see and ends up spoiling the whole excursion.
George of "Cross Country Snow," and "The Killers"
George and Nick are friends who meet in Europe. They go on ski trips together. Back in the U.S., George runs a lunch counter, where he and Nick get involved in a murder when two men arrive to kill a regular customer.
Joe the Jockey of "My Old Man"
Joe has been a jockey for many years. When he is unable to race, he bets on horseracing, including fixing some races with the help of some other crooked jockeys. Joe buys a horse to train himself. During a race, the horse throws him off, killing him. The other jockeys make fun of him and ridicule him for his history as a gambler.
Al and Max of "The Killers"
Al and Max arrive at George's lunch counter to kill a regular customer, Mr. Anderson. When Anderson does not show up, they have to leave to seek him elsewhere.
Jack the Boxer of "Fifty Grand"
Jack has been a boxer for many years. His approaches his last fight knowing that he will lose. He bets fifty thousand dollars against himself. He fights for eleven rounds against his opponent before losing the match.
Dr. Wilcox of "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen"
Dr. Wilcox is not a good doctor. He carries around a medical guide to treat patients. One patient wants to be castrated because of his disturbing his sexual thoughts. The patient tries to perform the surgery himself. Dr. Wilcox is unable to help him in time because he cannot find the proper treatment in his medical guide.
Paco of "The Mother of a Queen"
Paco is a homosexual bullfighter that has returned to Mexico after a stay in Spain. He cares only about his own appearance. He lets his own mother be turned out of her grave because he refuses to pay the fees. He also refuses to pay back his friend all the money that he has borrowed during his trip to Spain.
Mr. Frazer of "The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio"
Mr. Frazer translates for Cayetano when he is brought into the hospital. Frazer's one pleasure is listening to the radio broadcasts that reach the remote hospital. Frazer contemplates the opium of the people and determines that everyone needs something to make them happy and content in their lives. For him, it is the radio.
Luis Delgado of "The Denunciation"
Luis Delgado is a fascist but he puts on the uniform of the loyalist to go into Chicote's restaurant. Edwin Henry sends a message to the government security office through one of the waiters. Luis Delgado is arrested and taken away from the restaurant.
Pedro of "The Butterfly and the Tank"
Pedro enters Chicote's with a flit gun. He sprays perfume on several of the waiters before some of the restaurant customers drag him outside and beat him up. He returns to the restaurant to spray everyone in the room with his flit gun. Someone in the room shoots him. His wife comes the next morning to retrieve his body.
Al of "Night Before Battle"
Al is a tank commander who is preparing to return to battle the next day. His biggest concerns are taking a bath and getting something good to eat. Before he goes to sleep, he tells Edwin that he wants to meet for dinner after the battle, although he knows he is unlikely to return from the battle.
Maria of "Nobody Ever Dies"
Maria's brother and friends are killed during a communist raid in Cuba. When the police confront Maria, she takes on a saint-like confidence that is similar to Joan of Arc.
Blindy of "A Man of the World"
Blindy was in a fight where his eyes were gouged out and bitten off by his opponent. Blindy spends his days wandering from bar to bar looking for change left in the slot machines. He is proud of his life, especially in his appreciation for humor.
The Porter of "The Porter"
The porter on the train to Canada has a significant conversation with little Jimmy. He shows the boy a razor trick and explains that this is one of the few tricks used by black men to fight in a racist society.
This section contains 2,840 words
(approx. 10 pages at 300 words per page)