Ernest Hemingway’s “Indian Camp” is a story in which a man looks back upon a very influential event in his childhood. The story tells of a young boy named Nick, who watches as his father aids in the birth of a young Indian child. The circumstances that arrive during this event shape the “older Nick’s” perception of his father, as well as life and mortality. Nick experiences his first eye-opening experience in the lines on page sixteen which describe the screams of the woman.
As the father tells Nick that “All her muscles are trying to get the baby born. That is what is happening when she screams,” he is justifying the screams to Nick, and in the fathers comment that her screams are “not important” he is minimizing the importance that Nick should place on the pain of the Indian woman. Nick shows compassion in his question to his father about stopping the screaming, but does not question the idea that his father finds the screams so unimportant that he does not even hear them. This experience succeeds in relating two points to Nick. The first is a window to the level of his fathers callousness.
The second is his perception of the well being of others. The lessons learned in this short excerpt of the story capitalize another turning point of understand made later by Nick. Though the initial birthing process vaguely intrigues Nick, he soon becomes disinterested, and it is apparent that the “older Nick” begins to convey the idea that his respect for his father is in question as this event further unfolds. On page 17, the “older Nick” makes it a point to reveal a comment made by his father which puts into perspective the outlook which “older Nick” has for his father and the situation.” The father says, “Pull back that quilt… I’d rather not touch it.” At first appearance it appears that he is merely referring to the fact that he has already scrubbed his hands and does not wis to contaminate them. After examining the tone more carefully however, it is rather inferred that the father sees the situation as unclean, and unworthy of his touch.
In American Indian Stories, University of Nebraska Press Lincoln and London edition, the author, Zitkala-Sa, tries to tell stories that depicted life growing up on a reservation. Her stories showed how Native Americans reacted to the white man's ways of running the land and changing the life of Indians. "Zitkala-Sa was one of the early Indian writers to record tribal legends and tales from oral ...
This is a point which “older Nick” takes great care in including, while also leaving speculation as to whether or not young Nick perceives it in this manner. These two events are very implicit of the changing of view of the younger Nick portrayed in the story and the older Nick who is telling the story. The older Nick shows that this event had a large impact in changing his views about life, and seemingly more importantly, his father. A birth of animosity becomes evident, as well as ideas about social status, and mortality.