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Cycles of Violence in The Battler

Cycles of Violence in The Battler

Ernest Hemingway’s “The Battler” provides a continued account of Nick Adams’ dangerous and violent life. Previous stories compiled in “The Short Stories” edition of Hemingway’s work documents some of the tribulations of Nick Adams, one of Hemingway’s protagonists. Apparently, Nick has been plagued by moments of sheer humility, terror, and immutable violence. In the Hemingway short story “Indian Camp,” Nick is a young boy who witnesses a dreadfully difficult birth by a Native American woman, enduring all the while the hubris of his surgeon father, who is contestibly insensitive to Nick’s innocence. Once the birth has ended, the husband of the woman is found with a freshly slit throat, again viewed by the young Nick. In “The End of Something,” another short story from the same compilation, an older Nick Adams breaks of a listless relationship with Marjorie, his girlfriend. Nick reveals his disgust with being committed to Marjorie during a fishing trip, and the proximity of the two in the boat coupled with the inability for either to escape the immediate situation results in moments of tense humiliation for both. Indeed, the scene percolates with subdued violence.

In the case of “The Battler,” the violence is not so heavily subdued. Nick is traveling on a train, probably as a vagabond, and is knocked off of his mode of transportation with a clout to the head by a “lousy crut of a brakeman.” (p. 129) This is not a narrated situation, but the reader is made aware of Nick’s predicament after the fact as Nick finds himself watching the “caboose going out of sight around the curve” and “touch(ing) the bump over his eye.” (p. 129) He finds his hands scraped and the skin on his knees b…

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…not escape his destiny: he is a living punching bag, and Nick, in his timely fashion, has not only witnessed another violent episode in this man’s life, but has taken part in its occurrence. The two become linked in this dangerous moment. In a moment of foreshadowing, Nick’s future teeters on the possibility of a life like Ad’s. Before dinner, Ad and Bugs had speculated: “He says he’s never been crazy, Bugs.” “He’s got a lot coming to him,” Bugs had softly spoken. (p. 133) Nick’s scars and hits are, at this time in his life, only more easily hidden than Ad’s. Too late, however: Ad and Bugs have seen his potential to become “crazy,” a “battler” as well, though he knows that, as in Ad’s case, yours is rarely the winning side.


Hemingway, Ernest: The Short Stories. Simon and Schuster, New York, First Scribner Paperback Fiction Edition, 1995

Biases From the Enlightenment Period

Biases From the Enlightenment Period

Abstract All three dominant subjects: mind, men, and standard literature, not only share dominance, but also relate to the fact that their roles are clearly shown in the schools of our society. Schools exercise the brain, boys are pushed harder and expected to do better in school, while canonic literature haunts students throughout their English classes. The body, women, and horrific literature take a back seat to their counterparts, but still fight to have their voices heard. All of the roles and ranks come from biases; maybe the biases come from insecurities of men who fear the loss of control. They definitely come from the biases routed in the Enlightenment period,

Imagine going to see the latest horror flick only to find the film without the role of a monster; there would be some very disappointed moviegoers. People easily identify with roles. The creation of roles occurs in every aspect of life: humans and animals rank things naturally. A male lion knows to fight the rival male lion for the role as head of the pack. Roles create order; they help us categorize subjects to quickly understand the subjects’ relations to the world, therefore resulting in a better understanding the subjects. Rank plays an integral part in several human activities. Without roles, whom would the audience cheer for in a movie? Without ranking, how would a business function? Although these roles help us relate to unfamiliar things, they sometimes come from unfair biases. Society quickly puts a person or idea in its place without always being objective. Biases only create more biases, which finally create a neatly ranked society where all things big and small have their own place…

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… loss of control. They definitely come from the biases routed in the Enlightenment period, and there is always hope for change.


1. Abate, Frank R., The Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus. Berkley Books, NewYork, NY 1997.

2. Jacklin, Carol,

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