Postcolonialism in Ernest Hemingway's "Indian Camp"
Ernest Hemingway attempts to describe the interactions of white Americans and Native Americans in his short story "Indian Camp." By closely reading this short story using a Postcolonialist approach, a deeper understanding of the colonization and treatment of the Native Americans by the white Americans can be gained. Hemingway uses an almost allegorical story as he exposes the injustices inflicted by the white oppressors through his characters. Through his characters Hemingway expresses the traits of the colonizer and the colonized. Nick embodies innocence, the Doctor represents dismissal or denial, and George represents oppression. The nameless natives in the story juxtapose the white characters highlighting traits such as loss of
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In addition to the illegitimate father, Hemingway designates George to the larger role as representing the entire American "white" population. George is the stereotypical colonizer who does what he wants with the Native American tribe, and he does not give them the respect they deserve. His name is representative of the ultimate American culture. The name "George" was chosen to resemble "George Washington" the first American president, who was, like Hemingway's George, a colonizer (248).
Created by Hemingway, a motif is emphasized throughout the story in which the Native Americans experience a loss of their true identity, and adopt the white ideologies. The Native Americans have given their sense of self to another culture and have become mindless individuals. As the story begins, Nick's father, the Doctor, wants to expose Nick to the experience of birth. He wants Nick to help him deliver a baby at an Indian tribe. In order to reach the tribe, located at an island across the bank, they must take a canoe. Several Native Americans, who automatically start canoeing, man the canoe. "The Indians rowed with quick choppy strokes," drone like the Native Americans row the white men across the lake (239). The Doctor and George had a predetermined notion that the Indians would row the boat. As the boat approaches the shore, Nick views the lights of the tribe, but refers to the Native Americans as bark-peelers, "Ahead were the lights of the shanties