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Bible in American and British Literature, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 539

Essay

Hemingway’s “Indian Camp” and the Old Testament: Portrayal of Gender

Renowned author Ernest Hemingway penned a litany of short stories, including “Indian Camp” which was included in his collection of short stories entitles In Our Time. This story proffers a captivating  and insightful depiction of a young boy’s development as he entered into adulthood when he had to deal with adult issues on his own. The narrative traces the life of Nick Adams, Hemingway’s daring protagonist who ambulates with his father, Dr. Adams, towards a nearby Indian village in order to help an Indian woman who was in labor. Hemingway describes a scene of gore and blood that involves a makeshift C-section, in conjunction with the gory suicide of the new mother’s husband. Within this horrific scene, the young protagonist finds himself in a position in which he must express his empathy for the Indian women in labor; the grieving and suicidal husband; and the cold, harsh, seriousness of his father.  This short story overtly examines issues of gender constructs and masculinity in a dyadic framework between the subaltern “Indians” and the white males who belonged to western society. Indeed, Nick’s response to the suffering and violence that he bears witness to at such a young age will define his own sense of manhood. As such, Hemingway explores how sexism, violence, suffering and apathy affect the process of constructing masculinity within this short story and ultimately contributes to the meaning of the story as a whole.

Although a comparison of this short story to the Old Testament seems disparate, there are nonetheless a litany of ways in which the Old Testament and Hemingway’s share parallels with regards to the narratives they proffer regarding gender constructs and how the inferior are treated. Notions about the construction of masculinity permeates the Old and New Testaments, and the study of masculinity has burgeoned as a viable field of inquiry within biblical gender studies. It is discernible within the Old Testament that there are a vast array of methodological approaches to proffer a nuanced narrative regarding gender in the context of religion. The Old Testament underscores the performative nature of gender of patriarchs such as Moses and King David, although it fails to fully address the maturation process that young boys go through. The notion of masculinity, however is tenuous within the Old Testament, although unlike in Hemingway’s portrayal, where a plurality of masculinities existed. In the Old Testament, the masculine ideal was far more homogenous than in Hemingway’s portrayal.

Nonetheless, both Hemingway and the Old Testament presented masculinity as a stilted form of patriarchy in which women and men were unequivocally separate in terms of importance and their roles in society. This ideology of separate spheres is evident in a litany of various contexts regardless of temporal or geographical contexts. As such, while the Old Testament is highly controversial in terms of the social values and precepts it propagates, it is nonetheless unequivocal that it presented and discursively framed as traditional and seemingly antiquated within the context of modernity. Nonetheless, it is clear that women have always been viewed as naturally inferior and less capable than their male counterparts. AS such, it is unequivocal that prejudices and stereotypes attached to socially constructed entities have real, material consequences regardless of geographical and temporal contexts.

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