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"The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway.

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Introduction

Bret Corrigan "The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway Part I: Ernest Hemingway, a revolutionary novelist and short-story writer of the twentieth century, had a profound effect on a new movement of literature, known as Modernism. Hemingway helped to shape Modernism through his fragmented writing style, which often portrayed a pessimistic picture of a culture in disarray, as it did in the short story, "The Killers". Hemingway's seemingly simple language and plot is in reality highly complex and difficult. This is attributed to several ambiguities as well as his fragmented style, which regularly omits expressions, transitions, explanations, and resolutions. "The Killers" is lacking in unity and coherence of plot and character, mainly because of the omission of a great deal of background material. This is evident from the beginning where hardly any exposition exists. "At first glance, the opening sentence of Hemingway's story...seems to be eradicated from the longer context" (Renkiel). Hemingway barely provides any information concerning the setting, leaving the reader a little lost. He then goes on to omit several explanations, which creates a sense of uncertainty and doubt. For instance, the reader never learns the reason that the two hit men, Al and Max, have been dispatched to murder Ole Anderson. George, the owner of the diner, thinks Anderson must have double-crossed some gamblers in Chicago. ...read more.

Middle

Hemingway also makes use of several ironies throughout the story. Most parts of the dialogue between Al and Max are ironic and not meant the way they say it. The first conversation between the killers and George is hilarious. The hit men try to order dinner but are told dinner is not served until six o'clock and they are given a list of food they can order. Immediately after this one of the hit men tries to order the dinner; it is absurd. Al later asks if George has anything to drink. George names a few drinks and then Al responds, "I mean you got anything to drink? (Hemingway). The killers often use the phrase "pretty bright boy" when referring to George and Nick, joking sarcastically about their being a couple of dumb country boys. However, the biggest irony in the story is that Ole Anderson, the heavyweight fighter who once fought for money, now refuses to fight, even for his life. Anderson is completely aware of the killers' attentions, but he has lost the will to fight. These instances of irony help to support Hemingway's claim that society is senseless and chaotic. Hemingway's fragmented style also entails omitted transitions and minimal narration. The story is pure action; almost the entire story is dialogue. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Mt. Morris, a six-year-old boy brought a handgun to Buell Elementary School where he shot and killed a fellow first-grader, Kayla Rolland. The boy took the gun from a shoebox in his uncle's bedroom, walked to school, and opened fire. In Santee, CA, a 15-year-old student killed two classmates and wounded another 13 people during a shooting spree at Santana High School. Charles Andy Williams, a freshman, will be charged as an adult on murder, assault, and weapons charges. Three friends and at least one adult said they had heard Williams threatening to shoot someone at the school in the days before the attack but said the boy told them he was joking. These acts of violence are mind-boggling. The fact that a six-year-old or even a 15-year-old for that matter can access a gun that easily and commit such a crime is unbelievable and really says something about the world we live in. School is supposed to be a safe environment for children and help keep them out of trouble but as Hemingway reminds us, things aren't always as they seem. School shootings truly show how senseless and chaotic our society can be. Obviously the shootings themselves are senseless but the fact that they repeatedly occur means that we aren't doing enough to prevent them, which should almost be considered more senseless than the crime itself. In this sense the recent school shootings are very reflective of the theme in Hemingway's "The Killers". ...read more.

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