The short story “The Killers” written by Ernest Hemingway begins as two rude men walk into a lunchroom and start taunting George, the man running the place and Nick Adams, a young man sitting at the other end of the counter. Finishing their supper, the men reveal that they are planning to murder Ole Anderson, a big Swede, former heavyweight prizefighter, who often ate at that lunchroom. After 7:00 pm, they stop waiting for the man to enter the scene; it was clear Ole was not going to arrive.
The two killers, thus, left quite passively. Nick then decided to warn the victim of the harm coming his way by visiting his room at a board house. He finds him lying in bed fully dressed and aware of the fact that two murderers were after him. Ole does not wish to run away, accepting the fact that he will die, yet still can’t bring himself to leave the house to his death. At his return, the men left at the lunchroom stand around talking about how awful it is.
Nick declares that he’s planning to leave town while George, ready to forget about it all, advises him just not to think about it. “The Killers” is a typical “loss of innocence” story. The protagonist, Nick is exposed to the many existing evils in human society throughout the novel: antipathy, murder and simply lack of empathy and care. It is, in this tale, experiences that jades and hardens as evidenced by the older characters who are unfazed even by an attempted mob assassination.
Evidently, this theme plays a crucial role in this story. In addition, passivity is viewed upon as the true conflict in this writing piece. In fact, all the protagonist desires to accomplish throughout the plot is to prevent it. To juxtapose this trait, Hemmingway also included masculinity as a present feature of his text; macho men should be decisive and resolved according to the stereotypes. Irony is equally existent in this short story for nothing is really what it seems.
From comic killers to weak and defeated fighters, the writing piece is pervaded with feelings of confusion, unease, and uncertainty. In conclusion, this story’s loss-of-innocence theme is related to the realization that the world is filled with a sort of sad, illogical irony. However, although preceding a thorough analysis of Ernest Hemingway’s short story, one persisting question still remains in mind: what is innocence, and why is all matter around us so insensible as to inevitably detract it from us later on in the course of our lives?