Hemingway’s short story “Indian Camp” illustrates a prime example of a young child’s experience with life and death. How is a mere child to deal with such gruesome first experiences of life and death? This is illustrated through Nick’s experience with the birth of a newborn and the suicide of its father. Also, the story illustrates subtle racism through the white men’s treatment of the Native Americans.
Nick’s father, Dr. Adams, and his Uncle George all travel to an Indian camp to assist in the birth of a child. Unfortunately they have to perform an impromptu caesarian section on the women with a knife and fishing line. Nick though he is just a child has to assist in the operation. Nick’s first experience with life is just as experience gruesome as his first experience with death. The lady’s husband was in the bunk above her. After delivering the baby Dr. Adams checks on the man only to find him dead having slit his throat with a razor. Immediately he asks Nick to be brought out only to find he has already seen it all. The change in Nick is made most apparent by the boat ride. On their way there Nick sits in his father’s arms in contrast to that on their way back he sits on the opposite side of the boat keeping to himself. Seemingly this whole experience has acted as a coming of age experience. He seems to be less childish in his thoughts and more adult like.
Throughout the story there is underlying racism. The town is described as a shanty and the room as having smelt very bad. As the women cries out in pain Dr. Adams says her screams do not matter. This isn’t what you’d expect a doctor to be saying at all. You can assume that this is because they look down upon the Indian women and see her as second class to them. Again how they go about the operation enforces this idea as they perform it without anesthesia or proper equipment. During the operation they have mean hold the