K♣ K♣ K♣ K♣ K♣ K♣ K♣ K♣
What do ten Native Americans do on the Fourth of July? In Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Ten Indians”, they get drunk and pass out on the side of the road just as Nick Adams (a recurring Hemingway character) and his friends drive by. Hemingway has never been known for political correctness; however, the Americana backdrop of this story makes me think this is more than an offensive stereotype. The Independence Day setting together with Adams returning to his father after a baseball game via a horse-drawn wagon sets up things for a quaint little story – except for the drunk Indians. Is Hemingway saying, for various reasons, not everyone celebrates in the same manner?
Nick’s friends carelessly drive by the men on the road as they drop off Nick at his father’s. Nick’s father then proceeds to carelessly let him know that he saw Prudence Mitchell in the woods with another boy. Nick’s infatuation with Prudence (an Indian girl) crosses over into other stories. Hemingway leaves it up to the reader to determine whether Mr. Adams is purposely trying to hurt his son or doesn’t actually realize Nick’s feelings for Prudence. Other Nick Adams stories give one the impression that Nick and his father have a love/hate relationship.
I like the coincidence of choosing this story for this particular week. As I was reading it, I felt as though Hemingway is giving Mark Twain a little nod. And then Nick is offered a piece of pie by his dad – “huckleberry pie”. I did a double take. Another coincidence?
And finally, the bittersweet ending:
In the morning there was a big wind blowing and the waves were running high up on the beach and he was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken.