Posted in Short Stories

Ernest Hemingway: Ten Indians

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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.

My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here.  DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis




7 thoughts on “Ernest Hemingway: Ten Indians

  1. Those final lines are quite powerful.

    I like how Deal Me In’s “hand” of fate settled on a Fourth of July story this week. 🙂 I doubt that the Huckleberry Pie was a coincidence, but it could also be the author’s subconscious, I suppose.

    1. I don’t think the pie was a coincidence, either. It was kind of funny because the setting screamed Hannibal, MO. And then there was the huckleberry pie. I’m not sure where the Nick Adams stories take place, though. Someplace with a beach/ocean. I’m guessing New England. But I’ll have to check and see.

      I thought the final line was one of the better ones I’ve read recently.

  2. The Nick Adams stories take place in Michigan, mostly . The ones about the woods take place in the Upper Peninsula, anyway.

    What a coincidental draw for the 4th! Very fitting. As for the Twain connection, Hemingway once said all modern American fiction draws from Huckleberry Finn, or something to that effect (drawing from memory here), so I’m sure that pie was huckleberry on purpose 🙂

    1. Ah! Michigan – now that makes sense! Thanks for the information. The beach/ocean is actually a beach/lake. I’ve read a few of the stories when Nick is older. So far I like the ones in which he is an adolescent a little more. Sometime I’m going to have to read them all at once.

      1. I have a collection of the Nick Adams stories that has them arranged chronologically by when the happen, not by when Hemingway wrote them. It’s very cool to see how, even though Hemingway wrote them all “out of order” and over many years, they do logically work as a story of a young man growing up, going to war, returning very changed. The ones when he’s younger are more enjoyable overall, but I think the ones after he returns from war touch me more.

      2. I would love to read them chronologically. I have a volume of all of Hemingway’s stories in order of publication. Reading the Nick Adams stories might have to be a project for the near future – or maybe next year.

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