Nick’s PTSD: Big Two-Hearted River
Upon reading Ernest Hemingway’s short story, “Big Two-Hearted River”, reader question the overall context of the story, in understanding what the story really is about, and how to actually interpret it. In order to understand the context, the reader must look at the story from two different aspects. The first is to examine the context in a literal sense to get a grasp on what the story is that is being told. Secondly, is to examine the story under the surface of the context that is done by looking at how Hemingway’s figurative style of language, word choice, and placing the short story in its original written context may lead to new interpretations of the story.
Examining the text on a literal level is…show more content… As said before, there are instances in the story where it becomes apparent that this area holds some kind of familiarity with Nick, and perhaps through this familiarity he can obtain the closure that he is seeking. Shellshock is said to be a very disorienting experience, so it is obvious that a way to become reoriented is by visiting something that is familiar. Another aspect of the text that supports this theory of closure is Nick’s reminiscence of his friend Hopkins. As Nick is making coffee he is reminded of his old friend and the narrator begins to take the readers on a trip through Nick’s mind, getting insight on Nick and Hopkins’ experiences with coffee making, talking about Hopkins girlfriends, and even them fishing on the Black River. This part of the story mirrors the very symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as it is said that people that experience this will often have random flashbacks brought on by recognizing something from their past, just as all it takes is coffee to send Nick on a flashback. The paragraph ends very solemnly with “They never saw Hopkins again” (Part I), which leads us to believe that Hopkins died during the war. Perhaps the death of Hopkins is the traumatic event in the past that Nick Adams has experienced, and the fact that the coffee immediately sends Nick into the past proves that he is in need of some