Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Killers by Hemingway

The Killers by Ernest Hemingway
Summary
The story “The Killers” is about the idea that crime does not pay. Criminals try to escape the consequences of their crimes, but they cannot. They have to face them resignedly. Nobody can help them. They are alone and their own.
It is five o’clock. Two men enter a restaurant. Their names are Al and Max. They are killers. They have come to kill Ole Anderson. Ole is a customer. George, Nick, and Sam are members of the staff of the restaurant.
The two men sat at the counter. They order for a heavy dinner. George tells them that it is five O’clock and they can get the heavy dinner at six O’clock. They talk to the members of the staff rudely. They make fun of them and call them bright boys.
After eating his meal, Al takes Nick and Sam to the kitchen. He makes them hostages at the gunpoint. Max sits with George at the counter to handle the situation. Max asks George to tell the customers that the cook is off. Fortunately, Ole does not come. After waiting almost two hours, they leave the restaurant.
After their departure, Nick goes to Ole’s residence to tell him about the killers. However, Ole listens about the killers very casually. He tells him that nothing can be done. He thanks Nick on his coming and telling him about the killers. Nick returns and tells George about Ole. Nick is afraid of and wants to leave the town. George agrees to it.
  1. Discuss the start of the story with a special relevance to the two killers. OR What time do the two men enter the restaurant? Tell about their physical appearance and dress. How do they order for food?
It is five O’clock when two men enter the restaurant. It is getting dark and streetlights come on. When they come in, they find George and Nick at the counter. They are talking to each other. Both the men are of the same size. No doubt, their faces are different but they are wearing the same kind of dresses. Because of the same dresses, they look like twins. They are wearing very tight overcoats and gloves.
George asks them what they want to eat but they give a very strange answer. They tell George that they do not know what they want to eat. Then they order for a heavy dinner. George tells them that it is 5 O’clock and they can get the dinner at 6 O’clock. Then they talk about the clock that is 20 minutes fast.
The two men change their order but George again tells them that they will get that at 6 O’clock. They get angry and use harsh words. They change their order for the third time and George agrees to serve them their desired dishes. Then the killers order for some drink. George tells them that he has no bitter drink for them. It appears that the two men are strangers there because they do not know the name of the town. (219)
  1. How do the Killers treat the members of the staff of the restaurant?
The two killers treat the members of the staff very rudely. They make fun of them. They make them hostages and threaten to kill them.
Firstly, we see that they talk very rudely and their favourite word is “hell” that they use too often. Max says about the clock, “Oh, to hell with the clock…” This sentence clearly shows their way of speaking. They do not let them talk. They even do not let them to look at them. When they eat and George looks at them, they do not like it. Max says to George, “what are you looking at?” George says, “Nothing.” Max says, “The hell you were.” When George laughs, Max says, “You don’t have to laugh.”
Secondly, they make fun of them. They call them bright boys. Al calls George ‘dumb’ and ‘thinker’. He calls Nick a bright boy too. Max says, “The town’s full of bright boys.”
Thirdly, they make them hostages and threaten to kill them. Max asks Nick to go to the other side of the counter. At this Nick says, “What’s the matter?” Al says, “You better go around, bright boy.” Al threatens George. He says that he will blow his head off. When they are about to leave Al asks Max, “What about the two bright boys and the nigger?” Actually, he wants to kill them, but Max does not agree. They frighten them to death. (235)
  1. What was the reaction of Ole Anderson when he heard about the killers who had come to kill him? What were the feelings of Nick Adams after that?
When we read the story “The Killers” carefully, we find that the reaction of Ole was very casual when Nick told him about the Killers. The writer has described his reaction and condition very beautifully.
When Nick told Ole about the killers, he said nothing. Nick told him that the killers wanted to shoot him, but still Ole said nothing. He looked at the wall. His looking at the wall shows his indifference to the serious situation. Nick told him that George had asked him to come to him and tell him about the killers. Ole said, “There isn’t anything I can do about it.”
He also said that he did not want to know what the killers were like. He thanked Nick for his coming and telling him about the killers. He told him that going to the police and running out the town would not do any good.
He knew that the killers would kill him and it was not a bluff. He said to Nick, “There ain’t anything to do now.” He was talking in the same flat voice. When Nick left, he saw Ole lying on the bed and looking at the wall. Therefore, Ole listened to the news very indifferently and casually. He was resigned to his fate. He knew that the killers would kill him and there was no escape. (226)
  1. What is the theme of the story “The Killers”?
The theme of the story “The Killers” is that crime does not pay. Criminals try to escape the consequences of their crimes, but they have to face them. Nobody can help them. They are alone and on their own.
Firstly, Ole’s present condition clearly tells us that crime does not pay. Two professional killers are after him and want to kill him. Perhaps he has double-crossed someone who has sent these killers. His crime has put him in a horrible situation. He is alone in his room and lying on his bed. He has lost interest in everything, even in his life. His looking at the wall shows that. 
Secondly, he cannot escape the consequences of his crime. We can guess that these killers have been chasing him for a long time. Ole Anderson has been doing everything to get rid of these killers. Now he has come to know that he will have to face the consequences. That is why, he tells Nick, “I’m through with all that running around.” He thanks Nick for his coming and telling him about the killers. He plainly says, “There ain’t anything to do now.” We find resignation in his actions. He has accepted the fact that the killers will kill him.
Thirdly, we see that nobody can help him. He tells Nick that going to the police and getting out of the town will not do any good. Nick cannot help Ole.
Therefore, the theme of the story is that crime does not pay. A criminal has to face the consequences of his crime after all. (264)
  1. Bring about the horror in the story “The Killers” by Ernest Hemingway.
The story “The Killers” is full of elements of horror. When we read the story, we find that the elements of horror are very dominant at four different places in the story.
Firstly, we find horror when the killers make the members of the staff of hostages. Al takes Nick and Sam to the kitchen at the gunpoint. He ties them back-to-back. He gags them with towels. Max stays with George at the counter. Al threatens George indirectly that he would blow his head off. This is a very horrible situation for the people like George, Nick, and Sam. They are frightened to death.
Secondly, when the killers go back, Al asks Max, “What about the two bright boys and the nigger?” Actually, he wants to kill the members of the staff of the restaurant, but Max does not agree. We see that Al is so cruel that he wants to kill three innocent people. It is horrible to kill people without any excuse.
Thirdly, the helpless condition of Ole is very fearful. He looks so much helpless that the reader takes pity on him. He feels that nobody can do anything about it. Ole’s condition is very horrible. He is lying on his bed and is looking at the wall. He is waiting for his death. He knows that he cannot escape the killers by running away and going to the police. He feels that nobody can help him. He is waiting for his death.
Fourthly, the talk between George and Nick also creates horror. Nick is so much afraid that he wants to leave the town. He says, “I’m going out of this town.” At this George says, “That’s good thing to do.” Sam is so afraid that he does not want to listen to anything relating to Ole and the killers. This is really a horrible situation. (310)
  1. Bring out the elements of suspense and irony in the story “The Killers.”
The writer has made the story “The Killers” powerful with the help of suspense and irony.
The elements of suspense are found right from the start of the story. The sudden start of the story creates a lot of suspense. The reader wants to know about the two men. He also wants to know why they are being so rude. The way they order the waiter keeps the suspense alive. They make fun of them. They call them bright boys. They particularly make fun of George, call him a thinker, and dumb. They do not let him laugh and look at them. These things add to the suspense of the story.
The suspense reaches the highest point when the killers make the hostages. The reader wants to know why they have done so. However, the suspense is not fully satisfied when he comes to know that they want to kill Ole Anderson. At this point, the reader wants to know why they want to kill Ole Anderson. He is given only a clue that Ole might have double-crossed somebody. He also wants to know whether the killers will be able to kill Ole. We see that he does not get the answer. There was suspense that the armed men might rob money and things and someone might be injured or killed.
Irony in the story is that after committing some crime, Ole thinks that he will escape its consequences. At the end, we find him fully resigned to death. Despite of much suspense and horror, the end of the story is sudden and unexpected. (264)
  1. The story “The Killers” reflects some of the darkest aspects of the modern society. Discuss.
No doubt, the story “The Killers” reflects some of the darkest aspects of the modern American society.
When we go through the story, we find that there appears to be no hold of law and order in the modern American society. It is very easy to kill and to make hostage to anyone. Gun is the order of the day. The killers have a gun and they make the members of the staff hostages. They control the situation in the restaurant for more than two hours and there is no police around. People are killing each just to oblige their friends. They do not need any serious excuse.
People are helpless against these killers. They cannot escape the killers even by running away and leaving towns. They cannot get help from the police. In the story, Nick advises Ole to get help from the police, but Ole says, “That wouldn’t do any good,” and “There ain’t anything to do.” This is the darkest aspect of the modern American society.
Even innocent people are helpless against the killers. They cannot get help from the police either. The best they can do is to leave towns.
At the end of the story, we find that everybody is afraid. Sam, the cook, even refuses to listen to anything relating to Ole. Nick says, “They’ll kill him,” and George says, “I guess they will.” These sentences show the situation of law and order in the modern American society.
Therefore, we can conclude that the story, “The Killers” reflects some of the darkest aspects of the modern American society. (264)
  1. What kind of understanding does “The Killers” impart to the reader?
The story “The Killers” imparts the understanding to the reader that crime does not pay. Criminals try to escape the consequences of their crimes, but later they have to face them. Nobody can help them. Secondly, it imparts the understanding that there is no hold of law and order in the modern American society.
When the reader goes through the story, he finds Ole Anderson lying on his bed and looking at the wall. Two professional killers are after him and want to kill him. It appears that Ole has done something wrong. The reader can guess that these killers have been chasing him for a long time.
The reader also comes to know that Ole has tried everything to get rid of these killers, but has failed. Ole plainly tells Nick, “There ain’t anything to do now.” He tells him that going to the police and getting out the town will do nothing. When the reader reads this, he understands that criminals cannot escape the consequences of their crimes.
The story imparts another understanding to the reader that the modern American society has some dark aspects. It appears to him that there is no hold of law and order. Innocent peoples are at the mercy of killers. The best they can do is to leave towns.
Therefore, this is the understanding the story, “The Killers” imparts to the reader. (230)
  1. “The Killers” is a powerful modern short story. Discuss.
No doubt, “The Killers” is a powerful modern short story. It has all the elements that make a short story powerful. It has a sudden start and unfinished ending. It has a good plot, the best-conceived characters, and a lot of suspense, irony, and satire. Moreover, the writer has not given his personal feelings anywhere in the story.
The abrupt start of the story creates a lot of suspense. The reader wants to know who these men are, why they are being so rude, and why they have come to the restaurant. He also wants to know why the killers have made the members of the staff hostages. The suspense is satisfied when the reader knows that they have come to kill Ole.
At this point, the reader wants to know why they want to kill Ole. The reader is given only a clue that he might double-cross somebody. We do not know whether they will kill Ole. Hence, the suspense remains alive even after the end of the story.
Irony in the story is that after committing some crime, Ole thinks that he will escape its consequences. Satire is on the modern American society. It appears that there is no hold of law and order. Innocent people are at the mercy of killers. The best they can do is to leave town.
Therefore, we can say that “The Killers” is a powerful modern short story. (236)
  1. Discuss the attitude and the opinion of other characters of the story, except the two killers, about Ole Anderson. Give your own opinion too.
When we read the story “The Killers” carefully, we find that all other characters of the story except the two killers have very high opinion about Ole. For the members of the staff he is a good, nice, and regular customer. They do not know that he has double-crossed someone. That is why they cannot understand why the two killers are after him and why they want to kill him.
They like him so much that they are ready to risk their own lives to save his. George asks Nick to go to Ole’s residence to tell him about the killers. Actually, he wants to tell Ole about the killers. Nick goes there and offers his help. He advises Ole to get out of the town. This shows that he has very high opinion about Ole.
The same is the case with Mrs. Bell. She thinks that Ole is a very nice man. When she finds that Ole is not well, she advises him to go for a walk to feel better.
I also have a very high opinion about Ole. He is really a nice man. Although he is fully resigned to death, yet he thanks Nick on his coming and telling him about the killers. He may have done something wrong but we are not sure about it. Like other characters of the story, except the two killers, I also like Ole. (234)

CHARACTER SKETCHES
Ole Anderson
In fact, Anderson represented many old men of his time who did not find anything interesting or worth attention in life after their active years. Life and death were now equal to him. In an extreme way, in all the surrounding dullness, boredom, and emptiness, Anderson might have thought of death as an escape like many dissatisfied, disenchanted people who even committed suicide. This is one result of highly industrial societies where active people in business leave lonely persons like Anderson to themselves. Anderson’s life, then, symbolizes some of the darkest aspects of American life or of the advanced Western civilizations. Inner peace and spiritual satisfactions are what religion alone can provide.
He may be a middle-aged fellow. He is a tall man. He has been a heavyweight boxer.
He is a polite fellow, and people like him. Mrs. Bell, the housekeeper, likes him. When George comes to tell him about the killers, he thanks him.
Two killers are after him and want to kill him. He has been running from town to town, but now he is ready to die. He has realized that nobody can help him and he will have to face his death. Nick asks him, “Isn’t there something I could do?” He answers, “No. There ain’t anything to do.” This answer shows his mental condition.
Therefore, we can say that he is a polite and good fellow. He may have done something wrong in Chicago. Now he is ready to face his death. (248)

2 comments:

  1. as much i understand this store and the character of Oil Anderson, i don't know or no one really knows that what he done in Chicago. on the bases on an idea we can't say someone that he is on wrong path. .

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  2. Basically Ole Anderson is a Swedish boxer . it means that he was also unsafe in his own country and escaping death in a land of deaths..........

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