The Change in Nick Adams Essay

Submitted By jbalex159
Words: 1257
Pages: 6

Big Two Hearted River:
The Change in Nick Adams

English 153

A man of a few words, conscious of his actions and somewhat apathetic, Nick Adams is the main character “Big Two-Hearted River” written by American author Ernest Hemingway. As the story progresses, Hemingway reveals no apparent plot; following Nick as he spends his time by the river becomes the focus of the story. Instead, looking past at the text’s obvious direction, careful analysis of certain elements in the story confirms Nick’s eventual change. The river is the first major element that the reader encounters in the story. It serves not only as a setting but also an access to Nick’s thoughts and emotions. Another factor to Nick’s change is himself; his thorough actions and attention to his surroundings hints to what becomes of him in the future and that is stripping of his wounds from war. Lastly, an element worth mentioning is the swamp; mysterious in its self but one that Nick frequently touches upon as the story slowly draws to a close. Analyzing these elements further can be used as evidence of Nick forgetting his war-torn past and becoming a civil man once again. Nick notices that most of Seney is lifeless due to a fire but some sights remain like the river below the bridge; he notes that “the river was still there.”1 Nick quickly establishes his familiarity with the river informing the reader of Nick’s past encounters with it. Nick watches the river and the trout swimming about for a long time which reveals that the river has some value towards him, the fact that he acknowledges its presence. A memory lingers within him after returning to Seney because “there in fact as it had been in [Nick’s] memory.”2 This memory of the river can mark the beginning of inward change particularly with his emotions by reminding him of his youth or any positive memories. The river continues to be a source of Nick’s emotional surge as his “heart tightened” because of the trout within the water, even bringing “all the old feeling” back.3 Once Nick finishes watching the fish, he leaves feeling happy. Happiness is first instance of Nick’s particular emotion shows that he may have not felt happy for long while. The sights and memories of Seney bring a positive feeling that Nick must have lost during the War, of which he returned from. Nick’s once again meets with another non-human being in the form of a grasshopper, a “muted allusion”4 of Nick as a soldier. Hemingway states that the grasshopper is black. Seney’s aftermath mirrors a battlefield where the grasshoppers roam in. The grasshoppers serve as a reflection of Nick’s current position, stained by terrible events of the war. The grasshoppers are black from the ash of the fire like Nick who has blood and dirt from the battlefield. Nick wonders “how long they would stay that way,” he thinks about when the grasshoppers will be clean since he also bears stains from his recent past of the War. Nick knows that healing is not instant and that it will take time. However, Nick urges the grasshopper to move and “fly away somewhere,”5 this can hint his own desires to rid of his war-torn self. To demonstrate happiness as a recurring theme, Nick faces the river with a glad feeling. Nick continues doing menial tasks such as cutting wood and setting a camp for the night. These tasks signify a change in routine for Nick after experiencing the war. He must be pleased to be away from the setting of war, indulging himself in simple tasks. Nick embraces the change of pace provided by his environment, opposite to that of the stress in war. He wants to return to the simplicity of life, present in his past before the war. Nick “had not been unhappy the whole day,”6 a clear change that he experiences compared to the sorrows he had in war. His continues to fulfill his satisfaction as he eats a simple meal claiming that “he had been [as] hungry before, but had not been able to satisfy