Last Updated 16 Nov 2022

Innocence Versus Harsh Realities

Category Innocence, Psychology
Words 935 (3 pages)
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One that is innocent is defined as having a lack of corruption in their life and being full of purity. Ernest Hemingway captures Nick’s innocence and purity throughout his short story Indian Camp while revealing the effects of life’s corruptions can have on a child’s life. Nick loses his innocence gradually throughout the story proving that innocence and purity is not something that stays with anyone forever. The story begins showing Nick’s innocence of being a young boy, not yet being subjected to any corruption. As the Indians rowed Nick and his father through the cold water, “Nick lay back with his father’s arm around him.”  This gesture shows the simplicity of a young innocent boy sitting in his father’s arms unaware of the world that he would soon be faced with. This also shows the love that Nick’s father had for him and the complete trust that Nick had in his father. As they make their way to the shanty where a woman had been in agonizing pain laboring for 2 days, Nick’s father prepares his son, for encountering the birth of a child. When Nick says he understands what is happening his father responds quickly with, “Listen to me. What she is going through is called being in labor. The baby wants to be born and she wants it to be born. All her muscles are trying to get the baby born. That is what is happening when she screams.” Being an innocent child often will bring naïve characteristics out, which is what we notice with Nick in this statement. Nick continues to show innocent and naïve behavior throughout the story, however, we see it to slightly start changing towards the end.

There are clear indications that lead the reader to believe that Nick is teetering a fine line of wanting to keep his innocence to having it taken away from him without choose. As Nick’s father was stitching the woman up after the caesarian he had just performed, he informed Nick that he may watch if he liked to. “Nick did not watch. His curiosity had been gone for a long time.” While Nick’s father was trying to build Nick’s character letting him see things only a man should see, innocent Nick was not eager to face the harsh realities of the harsh world. Sometimes realities of the harsh world are unavoidable, and we see this when Nick encounters the unexpected suicide of the Indian woman's husband who laid just above her the whole time she labored. At this point Nick's father was still trying to protect his son from seeing such harsh circumstance such as suicide, yelling at Nick's uncle to get Nick out of there. Unfortunately, Nick still had a good view from the doorway, and his father pleaded to him that he was, 'terribly sorry. It was an awful mess to put you through.' Nick's father knows that this changed his son and he tried comforting Nick by explaining that this was just a mess of a situation and life is not always this harsh. The whole time Nick's father tried manipulating the situation to where he knew would not steal his boy's innocence away, but it was the uncontrollable event of suicide that steered his young Nickie from escaping the harsh world.

Nick’s innocence is being shown through the Indian woman’s suffering revealing the true meaning of innocence behind the story. After Nick’s father had explained to him the reason for the woman’s pain, he stood there listening to the woman scream. Nick cried out to his father, “Oh, Daddy, can’t you give her something to make her stop screaming?” He shows that he is naïve to the situation and he cannot bear to watch the woman suffer in pain. As a young boy, this is something that would be confusing and hurtful, but he must stay strong because his father was trying to make him a stronger person. “Do many men kill themselves, Daddy? Not very many, Nick, Do many women? Hardly ever.” There is a connection in this dialogue between Nick and his father, where they both have an understanding that one committing suicide was strictly a gendered thing. Nick witnessed the man’s suicide all while watching the woman suffer and the suicide had a bigger impact on his innocence than the trauma of the birth did.

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We see one last sign of Nick’s innocence at the end of the story, only this time it reveals that the suffering both Nick and his father encounter that day changes them individually and as father and son. On the way back home, “They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing.” The very first time we see Nick’s innocence shown is in the beginning when his father had his arms wrapped around him in the boat, and now, in the end, they were completely separated. This disconnection shows Nick’s father that what he had seen that day changed his son and he was no longer a little boy. In conclusion, Nick's innocence and purity were shown being stripped away from him after a tragic experience. Nick’s fathers’ intentions were never to steal his little boy’s innocence away from him through that trip, it was to simply build his character and teaching him a lesson. He never intended for his son to be subjected to such behaviors of suicide, he showed his remorse in a very stern way by not showing him the same affection he showed his little boy at the beginning of the story. While Nick did lose some of his innocence throughout the story, he wa.

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