THE `TRIBAL' LEGACY OF HEMINGWAY'S NICK ADAMS.
Young Hemingway came in contact with Ojibway families he later wrote about in his fiction (the Gilberts, Tabeshaws, Boultons, and Mitchells) each summer while vacationing at the Hemingway cottage at Walloon Lake, Michigan.(2) As he "played, hunted, and fished with the Indian children and also grew to know their parents" Ernest came to view these Ojibways as both friends and mentors (Montgomery 56). In the Nick Adams stories, Hemingway employs the figure of the Indian as an imagined ancestor in order to place Nick's father within a genealogy linking Indians, father, and son. This "tribal" legacy seems to offer a paternal alternative to the authority and power wielded by Nick's mother. However, as a sign that Nick's father may be unworthy of this "tribal" legacy, Hemingway uses Ojibway cultural practices and beliefs to critique Doctor Adams's Victorian sensibility, repression of emotion, cultural blindness, and puritanical response to sexuality. As Nick grows disillusioned with and estranged from his father, Doctor Adams and the Indian fade from view, but the "vanished" Indian is-invoked by Nick as an imagined ancestor in a nostalgic recreation of the bygone, idyllic world associated with absent "tribal" fathers.
Beginning with Philip Young, whose work defined the field of Hemingway studies, critical analysis of the Nick Adams stories focused on Nick's wounding in the war. But in reconsidering his earlier work, Young later suggested "that as a context for his general rebellion the family now looks bigger than the war" (274). Subsequent criticism, much of it based in psychoanalysis, has indeed emphasized the family and, in particular, Nick's relationship with his father.(3) Other critics have examined Nick's relationship with Indians and/or Hemingway's use of Native American tropes.(4) At times these two lines of inquiry have merged into an examination of the relationship between fathers and Indians in the Nick Adams stories.(5) However, the critical work that has been done in this vein tends to emphasize the conflict between white and Indian, father and son. While I do not discount the importance of cross-cultural conflict in the Nick Adams stories, I wish to emphasize the constructive nature of such cross-cultural relations, which produce a "tribal" legacy we can trace throughout these works.
We may begin our search for the imagined ancestors of Nick Adams with the story "Now I Lay Me" in which a wounded Nick recalls the earliest memories of his boyhood, including his mother's burning of his father's Indian artifacts. In this story, the figure of the Indian emerges as the imagined ancestor of Doctor Adams, introduced by Hemingway to construct the "tribal" legacy for Nick's father. This story is also central to an understanding of the family dynamics that shape Nick's development, depicting the conflict between Doctor Adams and his wife and the Characteristic weakness of Doctor Adams, which will lead to Nick's disillusionment with his father.
We know from "Fathers and Sons" that Nick's father had lived with Indians when he was a boy and considered them his friends (CSS 376).(6) In "Now I Lay Me" we see that Nick's father has attempted to hold onto his memories of these Indians by preserving them as objects of knowledge, collecting Indian artifacts in the same way that he collected "jars of snakes and other specimens" in preparation for his later medical practice (277). However, as Nick's memories reveal, his mother burns the doctor's collection in what can be read as an expiation of her husband's Indian past. Although Nick can't remember who had burned the doctor's jars of snakes in an earlier cleansing described in "Now I Lay Me," this seems to be his mother's modus operandi, her way of erasing her husband's past and asserting her own power before the family moved "to a new house designed and built by [Nick's] mother" (277). After the second burning, Nick's father is reduced to raking through the ashes to retrieve his "stone axes and stone skinning knives and tools for making arrow-heads and pieces of pottery and many arrow-heads" (278). His salvage operation here is akin to modern anthropological efforts to collect, record, and save pieces of Native American cultures before they "vanished." When Nick's father says, "The best arrow-heads went all to pieces" and carries the remains of the "blackened, chipped stone implements" back into the house (278), we feel that he has not only lost in this battle of control with his wife, but has lost something of his youth and his past associated with these Indian artifacts.
In response to his wife's ritual burning, Doctor Adams attempts to enlist Nick in his own hunting rituals and in his effort to salvage the Indian artifacts from his wife's fire; however, the "tribal" legacy which Nick's father wants to pass on to his son ultimately appears lost in the flames. The male ritual of the hunt is placed in opposition to the female home-fire and forms the basis for the story's paternal genealogy linking Indians, father, and son. The father returns from the hunt to find his Indian hunting implements (arrow-heads and tools for skinning and making arrowheads) burned, and he passes off his own hunting implements (his gun and game-bags) to his son with some advice: "`Take them one at a time, my father said. `Don't try and carry too much at once'" (278). Taking his father's advice, the young Nick is left holding the bags, while his father retreats into the house. Nick does not follow him immediately, waiting until the coast is clear before entering the house alone. In his association with the "vanished" Indians, Nick's father appears as the victim in this confrontation with his wife. Yet, as his hesitation in following the elder Adams at the end of the story reveals, Nick has begun to sense the weakness of his father, who appears unworthy of his Indian legacy.
While "Now I Lay Me" reveals to Nick the weakness of his father, whose "tribal" legacy is lost in the confrontation with his wife, that weakness is revealed to the reader in the stories of Nick's earlier development through the confrontations depicted between Doctor Adams and Native Americans. "Indian Camp" exposes that weakness through a confrontation between the medical practices of Doctor Adams and the Ojibway healing rituals associated with the Midewewin medicine society. Basil Johnston explains that Ojibway "medicine men became philosophers concerned not only with preserving life and mitigating pain, but also with offering guidance and principles for living the good life whose end was to secure general well being" (Ojibway 71). They created the Midewewin (or Medaewaewin) society "to establish the relationship between health and upright living, known as walking in balance" (Manitous 243). They understood that "the well being of the body was directly related to the. well being of the inner being of a person" (Ojibway 71).
Doctor Adams's rational and objective medical practice, as depicted in "Indian Camp," is diametrically opposed to the Ojibways' personal and holistic approach to healing. Rather than considering the Indian woman's inner well being, he makes her body into an object of knowledge for his medical discourse: "`What she is going through is called being in labor.... All her muscles are trying to get the baby born. That is what is happening when she screams'" (68). He effectively silences the Indian woman and effaces her pain, saying to Nick, "`her' screams are not important. I don't hear them because they are not important'" (68). He also appears more concerned with his own technical skill and ingenuity than with human suffering as he describes his exploits to Nick's Uncle: "`That's one for the medical journal, George,' he said. `Doing a Caesarian with a jack-knife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered gut leaders'" (69). However, the Indian husband's silent suicide provides an ironic judgment on the doctor's pronouncement of authority and mastery over the situation: "`Ought to have a look at the proud father. They're usually the worst sufferers in these little affairs; the doctor said. `I must say he took it all pretty quietly'" (69).
In fact, the tragedy depicted in "Indian Camp" may be caused in part by the doctor's blindness to personal suffering and different cultural conceptions of his power. He does not recognize the power he has, as a doctor, to do harm as well as good. The Ojibways believe that one cause of disease is "improper contact with sources of power" including medicine men, who "possessed great Power which they controlled to a greater or lesser degree, This power could cause harm as well as good, depending on the circumstances, and some medicine men--sorcerers--might have caused illness to Ojibwas because of lack of control over their power" (Vecsey 146). The Indian husband is brought into confined (and improper) contact with one source of power (a woman's gift of life-giving) by his close presence during the childbirth. His presence seems to violate the traditional separation of genders during childbirth practiced in the Indian camp: "All the old women in the camp had been helping her. The men had moved off up the road to sit in the dark and smoke out of the range of the noise she made" (68). As Ruth Landes writes in Ojibwa Sociology, "Men do not normally participate in midwifery, fearing the magical pollutions of the discharges" (139). The Indian husband is also forced into contact with a foreign "medicine man's" misuse of his power for mastery rather than healing. It is only after the doctor arrives and disregards the Indian woman's screams as "not important" that her husband "rolled over against the wall" (68). Injured himself, he is powerless to stop this foreign procedure. His suicide may thus be a response to this "medicine man's" overwhelming powers, a source of "illness" that the Indian cannot face in his weakened state.
In his partial and hesitant answers to Nick's questions about life and death, Doctor Adams exhibits the same blindness he has shown for the pain and suffering of the Indian couple. Vecsey notes that the Ojibways "distinguished the immediate causes, or agents, of disease and their ultimate causes or meanings. They chose cures to fit the ultimate causes as well as the agents" (145). In contrast, Doctor Adams remains blind .to his own immediate responsibility as an agent in the violent birth and death Nick has just witnessed, just as he remains blind to the ultimate causes or meanings of those events. The doctor says; this case "`was very, very exceptional'"; the husband "`couldn't stand things, I guess'"; and dying is "`pretty easy.... It all depends'" (70). While Nick's questions indicate his desire to look for the ultimate causes and meanings of life and death, the doctor's answers indicate his blindness to such causes or meanings and hence his inability to provide them for his son.
In "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife" we discover a source of the doctor's cultural blindness in a Victorian sensibility that represses "base" emotions or instincts, privileges reason, and constructs absolute dichotomies of right and wrong, "civilized" and "primitive." The hybrid figure of the half-breed, Dick Boulton, plays the "trickster" role in this story, offering a critique of Victorian culture by exposing the doctor's repressive nature, undercutting his rationalism, and dismantling his fixed binary oppositions. One aspect of this critique involves the doctor's physical confrontation with Boulton and his decision to back down rather .than follow through on his threat: "`If you call me Doc once again, I'll knock your eye teeth down your throat'" (74). Boulton's response to the doctor's threat is an immediate challenge ("`Oh, no you won't, Doc), which freely expresses his instincts and emotions: "He liked to get into fights. He was happy" (74). The doctor's reaction to this challenge, on the other hand, suggests a Victorian sensibility, which represses emotion in order to maintain a facade of civility and self-control: "The doctor chewed the beard on his lower lip and looked at Dick Boulton. Then he turned away and walked up the hill to the cottage. They could see from his back how angry he was" (74).
Once the doctor enters his home, we see that a Victorian sensibility permeates the Adams household. The Victorian matriarch who rules this space appears in the story through the disembodied voice of the doctor's wife, which emanates "from the room where she was lying with the blinds drawn" (75). The doctor's wife encourages her husband to repress his anger: "`I hope you didn't lose your temper, Henry'" (75). The doctor's subsequent manipulations of his shotgun in his bedroom provide a form of release for his repressed anger, but this violent, masturbatory fantasy seems an impotent gesture: "He pushed the magazine full of heavy yellow shells and pumped them out again. They were scattered on the bed" (75). The doctor's confrontation with Boulton has thus exposed one weakness in his Victorian sensibility, a repressive nature which is ultimately unhealthy and unproductive.
Rather than acknowledging his anger, the doctor asserts the superiority of reason over emotion and suggests a rational explanation for his conflict with Boulton, saying to his wife, "`Dick owes me a lot of money for pulling his squaw through pneumonia and I guess he wanted a row so he wouldn't have to take it out in work'" (75). The doctor here attempts to displace his own anger and complicity in the conflict (lying to his wife that he did nothing to anger Boulton) by suggesting Dick is another "lazy" Indian. However, we might more productively see Boulton as a Native American "trickster" figure, such as the Ojibway Naanabozho described by Gerald Vizenor: "More than a magnanimous teacher and transformer, the trickster is capable of violence, deceptions, and cruelties: the realities of human imperfections ...; he represents a spiritual balance in a comic drama rather than a romantic elimination of human contradictions and evil" (Chippewa 4). As trickster, Boulton introduces the possibility of violence and deception, perhaps for his own benefit. In so doing, he exposes the repressed violence and self-deception inherent in the ordered Victorian world of the doctor and his wife, contradicting the notion that reason can eliminate "base" human emotions, imperfections, and evil.
Boulton uses what Gerald Vizenor calls the trickster's "language game" to dismantle the doctor's Victorian morality ("Trickster" 19 2). Because this morality depends upon a clear distinction between right and wrong, Nick's father must define the washed-up logs as "driftwood" in order to justify his taking for firewood, what rightfully belongs to the timber company. Boulton immediately challenges the doctor's unspoken assumptions and asserts his own definition of the logs: "`Well, Doc, he said `that's a nice lot of timber you've stolen'"(74). By naming the doctor's action, Boulton forces Nick's father to face his own unethical (and hence "uncivilized") behavior. Rather than admitting that his actions are unethical, the doctor hides behind the rule of language: "`Don't talk that way, Dick, the doctor said. `It's driftwood'"(74). The doctor asserts his own power to define the logs to his advantage and in so doing attempts to silence Boulton.
Ironically, the Native American Boulton uses the white man's own typographic forms of expression against him, asserting the greater authority of the imprinted word over the doctor's oral defense: "Dick kneeled down in the sand and looked at the mark of the scaler's hammer in the wood at the end of the log. `It belongs to White and McNally'"(74). Faced with such an identifying mark authorized by his own print culture, the doctor still refuses to take responsibility for his unethical actions and admit to the moral ambiguity of the situation, as Boulton can: "`You know they're stolen as well as I do. It don't make any difference to me'" (74). Instead the doctor affirms the rigidity of his moral universe and his own hypocrisy by maintaining a "civilized" facade and asserting his difference from the "primitive" Indian who has challenged him: "`If you think the logs are stolen, take your stuff and get out'" (74). Again, the doctor cannot accept his own violent emotions, deceptions, or imperfections because they contradict his Victorian sensibility.
Still, the ending of "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife" suggests an alternative. Rather than stay in the house, under the sway of his wife's voice and her Victorian sensibility, the doctor follows the path the Indians have taken, through the gate and into the "cool" woods. There he finds Nick and reports, "`Your mother wants you to come and see her'" (76). It appears that Nick is meant to replace his father in the Victorian household, but Nick suggests an alternative, choosing the paternal over the maternal ("`I want to go with you'") and the natural world over the "civilized" ("`I know where there's black squirrels, Daddy'") (76). As we know from "Fathers and Sons," the black squirrels are "in the hemlock woods behind the Indian camp" (371). Again the link between father and son is ratified by the Indian: "`All right, said his father. `Let's go there'," (76).
The doctor's blindness to personal suffering and cultural differences reappears in "Ten Indians" which shows Nick's father unable to guide his son through his sexual awakening with the Indian girl Prudence Mitchell. In this story Nick's feelings for his Indian girlfriend come into direct conflict with the image of her presented through the Garners' racial prejudice and his father's sexual puritanism. Prudence, the tenth Indian of the title, remains an absent presence (a "vanished" Indian), constructed wholly through a white male discourse. The absent Indian girl here exposes the racism, sexism, and sexual repression inherent' within this patriarchal discourse, which is also part of Nick's paternal legacy. Still in his early adolescence, Nick does not yet consciously recognize these weaknesses in his father. However, as we saw in "Now I Lay Me" and as we learn from "Fathers and Sons,' such recognition is imminent and signals the end of his relationship with his father: "After he was fifteen he had shared nothing with him" (375).
Criticism on "Ten Indians" has most often highlighted the contrast between Nick's familial relationship with the Garners and his own distant, unsympathetic father.(7) However, such criticism overlooks the pattern of racist and sexist responses to Nick's intimate relationship with an Indian girl that links Nick's interactions with the Garners and his .father. In reaction to the drunken Indians they pass on the road while returning from a Fourth of July celebration--a celebration of America's independence from colonial rule--the Garners utilize the type of racist discourse that has supported America's own internal colonization of Native Americans. Mrs. Garner continually refers to "them Indians" generalizing the Native Americans as "other;' as not "us" When Carl Garner suggests that, the ninth Indian's pants looked like Billy Tabeshaw's, the interchangeable nature of the Indian "other" is again emphasized: "All Indians wear the same kind of pants" (253). The Garners also associate Indians with particularly pestilent animals. When his father gets down from the wagon to move the ninth Indian out of the road, Frank Garner imagines "he was killing a snake" (253). Indians are also connected with skunks in that both are in danger of being run over on the road; "`One place is just as good as another to run over a skunk'" Joe Garner asserts (254). Later, when Nick suggests that he knows a skunk when he sees one, Carl Garner says, "`You ought to.... You got an Indian girl'" (254). Carl goes on to say, "`they smell about the same;'" and his joke is approved by his laughing father (254).
Mrs. Garner tries to put an end to the male Garners' stereotypical jokes, but she exhibits a similar prejudice in her own joking reply: "`Carl can't get a girl' his mother said, `not even a squaw'" (254). Indian women are here assigned the lowest possible value in this sexual economy. Joe Garner suggests the moral hierarchy that relegates Indian women to the lowest rung because they are considered sexually promiscuous and thus immoral. After teasing Nick that he might go after Prudence himself ("`You better watch out to keep Prudie, Nick'"), Joe replies to a whisper from his wife, "`Nickie can have Prudence.... I got a good girl'" (254). The very fact that she is considered a "bad girl" makes Nick feel "hollow and happy inside himself to be teased about Prudence Mitchell" (254). He is "happy" to partake in the male exchange of women that drives this patriarchal system; yet he feels "hollow" about his Indian girl's implied promiscuity, which makes her an object both desired and denigrated in this system.
This opening scene with the Garners thus provides the lens through which to interpret Nick's subsequent interaction with his father, when Nick is told of Prudie's apparent "betrayal." Inculcated with the Garners' racist and sexist view of Indian women, Nick is already suspicious about Prudence when he begins questioning his father. When his father tells of stumbling upon Frank Washburn and Prudie in the woods, Nick is prepared to see this as evidence of his Indian girl's promiscuity and immorality. It is clear as well that Nick's father shares this interpretation; his answers to Nick's questions are designed to encourage such a reading. He suggests that Prudie and Frank "were having quite a time" although he can't say exactly what they were doing since he "didn't stay to find out" (256). Still, he can identify the guilty parties, as he says twice, "`I saw them'" (956). Exactly what he saw remains elusive or perhaps repressed.
Doctor Adams's inability to name the "truth" about what he saw in the woods may again reveal his own sexual repression and cultural biases. The story "Fathers and Sons" affirms the doctor s Victorian sensibility and his puritanical view of sexuality: "His father had summed up the whole matter by stating that masturbation produced blindness, insanity, and death, while a man who went with prostitutes would contract hideous venereal diseases and that the thing to do was to keep your hands off of people" (371). The only specific sexual lessons the doctor offers his son are on "buggery" (having intercourse with animals) and "mashing" (sexual harassment) both of which are "heinous crimes" (371). We can thus see how Nick's father might have viewed his son's relationship with an Indian girl (who is compared to an animal by the Garners) and interpreted the scene of Frank Washburn and Prudence "threshing around" in the woods. Such a scene no doubt suggested to him both "buggery" and "mashing." It is no wonder then that he might have trouble naming the "truth" of what he saw to his son.
But what exactly did the doctor see? The first (Chartres) version of "Ten Indians" suggests that the omitted scene of Prudence's "betrayal" was anything but a sexual tryst. In this version, Nick's father has not witnessed what occurred in the woods, but Prudence herself appears at the end of the story and suggests to Nick what happened. When Nick arrives home, his father tells him that Prudence had shown up earlier to go rowing with Nick, as he had apparently promised, only to find him gone to celebrate the Fourth of July just as her whole family had. After Nick goes to bed, he is awakened by Prudence at the window. They walk to the beach to go rowing, and when Nick tries to kiss her, she refuses saying, "`I won't kiss anybody ever again'" (Item 202-C, Hemingway Collection, Kennedy Library, quoted in Smith 59). When they get into the boat, Prudence reveals her reason for coming to see Nick and for shunning intimacy: "`I had to come, Prudence said. `They all came back drunk from town' "(Smith, 59). Smith suggests that Hemingway "could have been alluding to a situation close to incest" (59).
Ruth Landes provides a clear view of the sexual violence experienced by Ojibway women due to "drunken orgies": "Girls and women found drunk in the road are dragged into the bush where boys or men have a ` picnic', with them" (Woman 49). Moreover, the repercussions of "incestuous rape" are quite different for the perpetrators and the victims: "Although such incest brands a man, the girl's reputation is more seriously damaged; she usually leaves home and may even be forced to leave the community" (Woman 44). The manuscript version of "Ten Indians" thus suggests that Prudence's "betrayal" was not a promiscuous sexual tryst but rather a sexual violation by a drunken male.
What Baker calls the "sentimental meeting" (169) between Nick and Prudence is excised from the final version of the story, but the echoes of Prudence's violation remain. The opening of the story dearly emphasizes the pervasive abuse of alcohol amongst the Indians, and the one specific detail we hear from Nick's father about the scene in the woods suggests the violent rather than passionate nature of the act: "I just heard them threshing around" (256).(8) The fact that Nick's father interprets this as a passionate rather than violent act ("They were having quite a time") is indicative of his blindness to human suffering and of his cultural biases, his view that all sexual acts, especially those involving "animal-like" Indians, are equally immoral and must be repressed. As in "Indian Camp," the pain and suffering of an Ojibway woman is again silenced and effaced.
As Nick's disillusionment with his father grows, he rebels against the doctor's sexual repression and in "Fathers and Sons" explores his own sexuality with an Ojibway girl. However, in that story Hemingway shows that Nick is also guilty of cultural blindness, violence, and repression? As noted earlier, "Fathers and Sons" recalls Nick's permanent break with his father at age fifteen. I have been arguing that Hemingway prepares us for this break by exposing, through the figure of the Indian, the weaknesses in the doctor's character that impel his son's disillusionment--particularly Doctor Adams's Victorian sensibility, cultural blindness, repression of emotion, and puritanical response to sexuality. In the final Nick Adams story I will consider, "The Last Good Country" the father and the Indian fade from view, but the "vanished" Indian is invoked by Nick as an imagined ancestor in a nostalgic recreation of the bygone, idyllic world associated with absent "tribal fathers."
The last Nick Adams story Hemingway wrote was the fragment "The Last Good Country." In this work, Hemingway sets an adolescent Nick back in the idyllic Michigan world he had shared with his father, yet his father is completely absent from the story. Instead, the father is replaced by a father-figure (Mr. Packard) and by' imagined "tribal fathers," the "vanished" Indians. The story's title comes from a line that makes clear the nostalgia upon which the story is based: "`This is the way the forests were in the olden days. This is about the last good country there is left. Nobody gets in here ever'" (516). In this story, Nick and his sister run off to the woods in moccasins (506), like imagined Indians, to escape the game wardens who are after Nick for hunting and fishing out of season. For Nick, these ritualistic activities which tie him to the land and its Indian past have been ruined by the rules and regulations of "civilization." Thinking of the trouble he is in for poaching, Nick wishes he were an Indian: "I don't think anybody fished in here but Indians. You should have been an Indian, he thought. It would have saved you a 10t of trouble" (530). This identification with the "vanished" Indian completes the pattern established in the earlier Nick Adams stories' the paternal legacy linking (absent) Indians, (absent) father, and son. For Nick, to "have been an Indian" means to have lived in a pre-modern world not yet ruined by "civilization" As we discover in "Fathers and Sons" this is a world Nick had once shared with his father before the doctor was "ruined" in the eyes of his son by his own cruelty and the abuse of others (370).
Along with the Indians, such a world seems to have vanished, existing now only in certain secret places. Nick and his sister are in search of one such "secret place" beyond the reaches of civilization symbolized by the "slashing" of the lumber companies (515). When they find the place they are looking for and set up camp, Hemingway associates this haven in the wilderness with the Native Americans of an earlier time period: "`It's a very old place' Nick said. `The fire-stones are Indian'" (518). To get there Nick has had to follow the old ways, using "direction sticks" that are "from the old days" (518). In following in the footsteps of the Indians, Nick has essentially replaced them, performing the rituals of hunting and fishing in place of the "vanished" Indians (and, we might note, in place of the father who has taught him these skills).
He also takes on the role of "tribal father" passing on "Indian knowledge" to his sister regarding the grouse he shoots ("`This time of year the Indians call them fool hens'") and the "last really wild stream" he fishes: "`Indians fish it. But they're gone now since they quit cutting hemlock bark and the damps closed down'" (540,541). If this is the "last good country," Nick attempts to be the "last good Indian," while his sister suggests to him that she can take on the role of his Indian girl Trudy: "`I won't talk about Trudy.... I want to be a useful and a good partner'" (513).(10) Not only does Littless resemble an Indian girl, with her "tanned brown" skin, "dark brown eyes," "dark brown hair" and "brown legs," she plays the part by referring to Nick as "white man" (504, 536). "The Last Good Country" thus suggests a type of idealized "tribal family," with Nick now in the role of "tribal father" to his "Indian" sister.
If the Nick Adams stories reveal the "tribal legacy" of Hemingway's first protagonist, I suggest that we might trace Hemingway's own "tribal legacy" (the influence of Ojibway stories and culture on his aesthetic practice) in the features of his characteristic writing style and the narrative structures he utilizes: repetition or reiteration, indirect statement of theme, cyclical or homing structures, even survival humor. (11) Such features are commonly found in Native American narratives, both oral and written, and are evident in the Nick Adams stories as well. Taking seriously Hemingway's "tribal" legacy would also mean examining his engagement with Native American myths and rituals: the Ojibway stories of the Spirit World Hemingway read in his favorite poem, Longfellow's "Hiawatha," which may inform Nick's journey to the shadowed locale and scene of violent death described in "Indian Camp"; or the Ojibway quest for visions that reveal purpose, character, and avocation, which might help us understand Nick's "vision" of his life and art ("On Writing") that Hemingway omitted from "Big Two-Hearted River." Hemingway himself suggested such an approach in "The Art of the Short Story" when he wrote of "Big Two-Hearted River," "there were many Indians in the story, just as the war was in the story, and none of the Indians nor the war appeared" (Item 251d, HemingWay Collection, Kennedy Library, printed in Flora, Ernest Hemingway 131). In searching for the traces of such "vanished" Indians, I have attempted to show that Ojibways (visible, vanished, and omitted), as well as their cultural beliefs and practices, form a "tribal" legacy that can be traced throughout Hemingway's Nick Adams stories.
(1.) Because I aim to trace Hemingway's construction of a "tribal" legacy as articulated through Nick's relationship with his father, I organize my argument in relation to Nick's development. This requires taking stories out of their order of composition and publication and also at times using the flashbacks of an older Nick to fill in the details of his earlier development.
(2.) As Gerald Vizenor notes in The People Named the Chippewa, Ojibway (and its variations,. Ojibwa and Ojibwe) and Chippewa are the names that were imposed after colonization on the tribal group who referred to themselves as the Anishinaabeg (13). I use "Ojibway" throughout this article in order to maintain consistency with Hemingway's use of the term in his stories.
(3.) Book-length studies that emphasize the father-son relationship include Benson, Brenner, Comley and Scholes, DeFalco, Flora, and Hovey. Pertinent articles include Gordon, Hannum, and Hays.
(4.) See the articles by Lewis and Love.
(5.) See the articles by Beegel, Boutelle, Strong, and Strychacz.
(6.) Unless otherwise noted, all references to individual short stories come from The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway.
(7.) See for example Benson (12); Hovey (37-8); Fleming 007); Smith (56); and O'Neal (117). For a more sympathetic reading of Nick's father in this story, see Nolan.
(8.) Item 730, Hemingway Collection, Kennedy Library uses the word "thrashing" instead. O'Neal notes that "both words can denote flailing or violent movements" (122, n27), but she argues that the choice of words "indicates the oblique manner and disgusted tone [Dr. Adams] uses when talking about such matters" (n7). I would argue that this is an accurate description of what he heard and that Hemingway specifically chose such words to describe the violent nature of the act the doctor witnessed.
(9.) In my doctoral dissertation, "Modernist Borders of Our America" I discuss "Fathers and Sons" in depth, examining Hemingway's depiction of Nick's sexual transgressions with the Indian girl Trudy as a form of nostalgic primitivism that separates son from father and initiates Nick into manhood without fatherhood, an imagined state of eternal adolescence.
(10.) Littless does in fact make a better partner because Nick's sexual drives may be sublimated with his sister, while those same drives have apparently gotten Trudy pregnant. See the original manuscript of "The Last Good Country" (pages 11-13, included as Appendix B, "The Trudy Excision" in Spilka 230-31). Hemingway's decision to excise the Indian girl and her baby seems in keeping with the "vanished" Indian and absent father motif of the story.
(11.) In my doctoral dissertation, I trace the "tribal" source of Hemingway's aesthetic practices back to his apprentice work "Sepi Jingan," essentially an Ojibway personal narrative in the form of an "as-told-to" story attributed to Billy Tabeshaw.
Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Scribner's, 1969.
Beegel, Susan F. "Second Growth: The Ecology of Loss in `Fathers and Sons'." New Essays on Hemingway's Short Fiction. Ed. Paul Smith Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 74-110.
Benson, Jackson J. Hemingway: The Writer's Art of Self-Defense. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1969.
Boutelle, Ann Edwards. "Hemingway and `Papa': Killing of the Father in the Nick Adams Fiction." Journal of Modern Literature 9.1 (1981/1982): 133-46.
Brenner, Gerry. Concealments in Hemingway's Works. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1983.
Comley, Nancy R. and Robert Scholes. Hemingway's Genders: Rereading the Hemingway Text. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1994.
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CHRISTOPHER SCHEDLER University of California, Santa Barbara
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|Publication:||The Hemingway Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 1999|
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