Hemingway's Portrayal of Nicks Consolation
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Hemingway\'s Portrayal of Nicks Consolation
Hemingway’s Portrayal of Nick’s Consolation
Webster’s Dictionary defines comfort as, "to give strength, hope to, or to console" (61). People find strength or consolation in different ways. Each person has a unique manner and need for that special thing that comforts them. Baker writes that: "Hemingway , on several accounts, writes of a man named Nick Adams. Hemingway uses Nick throughout most of his stories. Primarily, he uses this character in about five stories that have been grouped together that critics refer to as "The Education of Nick Adams" (129). Adams is Hemingway’s character that critics believe to be his means of writing about his own life. Hemingway shows us that Nick finds his consolation in his father.
Hemingway’s depiction of Mrs. Henry Adams, Nick’s mother, portrays her to be an overbearing and obnoxious woman. Benson describes Mrs. Adams as: "Nicks mother is a woman who smothers sweetly with that peculiar self righteous intensity which is born of Victorian moral certainty" (6). Mrs. Adams constantly questions the actions of Dr. Adams and Nick. According to Jackson Benson, after the row with Dick Boulton in "The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife," Mrs. Adams only attempts to second guess Dr. Adams.
Instead of backing her husband up or sympathizing with him, Mrs. Adams scolds her husband and expresses the suspicion that it was Dr. Adams who caused all the trouble. Her tone effectively reduces the
doctors status to that of a little boy. Her further refusal to believe her husband after patronizingly urging him not to "try to
keep anything from me" belittles him into a posture not only of a naughty little boy, but a sulky and not even a very trustworthy one (8).
Hemingway shows Mrs. Adams almost as an evil empress who wants control over her family. The setting around Mrs. Adams gives the reader an impression of power. Benson describes the setting as:
Like a queen bee or despotic invalid, Mrs. Adams sends forth her pronouncements from a darkened room. With the blinds drawn against the harsh light of reality (a familiar image in Contemporary American Fiction)…(8).
Hemingway also gives the reader a sense of feeling, the same feeling Dr. Adams was feeling when his wife was second guessing him in the story. Benson shows Mrs. Adams’ attitude and the aggravation Dr. Adams felt:
…And her stubborn blindness and self righteousness is given further impetus by Hemingway’s device of making her a
Christian Scientist. Mrs. Adams’ denial of what we have just seen to be true effectively creates in the reader the same irritated frustration which causes Dr. Adams to leave the house to go hunting, slamming the door behind him (8).
Throughout the story Mrs. Adams underminds Dr. Adams. This gives the reader a plain view on how Nick and his father would look to each other for piece-of-mind.
Nick’s father, Dr. Henry Adams, appears in "The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife" as a kind and gentle man with patience of steel. Hemingway tells the reader of Dr. Adams’ great love for hunting and fishing. He also demonstrates Dr. Adam’s ability to maintain his self control. "He was a busy and kindly physician whose chief advocations were hunting and fishing"(Baker 129). Dr. Adam’s, when questioned by his wife, remains calm. A slight tone of irritation is assumed due to his dialogue, and actions. Throughout the entire discussion with his wife he still his able to keep is composure. "The doctor wiped his gun carefully wife a rag. He pushed the shells back against the spring of the magazine. He sat with the gun on his knees. He was very fond of it. Then he heard his wife’s voice from the darkened room"(75). Mrs. Adams questions his explanation of the fight with Dick, then attempts to justify her argument. "He stood up an put the shotgun on the corner behind the dresser".
"Are you going out, dear?", his wife said.
"I think I‘ll go for a walk," the doctor said (75).
Dr. Adams’ coolness is demonstrated here. Instead of becoming outraged, he bottles his feelings up inside and turns to his son for comfort.
Nick and his father had a special bond, a bond that only can be created through a father and son relationship. The bond that
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