What is the theme of "The End of Something" by Ernest Hemingway?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The theme of this short story quite clearly refers to the way in which ending a relationship and becoming single again impacts individuals as they return to a different kind of identity. This is most obviously shown in the way that Nick is left at the end of the story to contemplate what he has done and the kind of future that awaits him as he becomes single once more. Note what Bill, Nick's friend, does at the end of the story when Nick tells him to leave him alone for a while:

Bill selected a sandwich from the lunch basket and walked over to have a look at the rods.

Having broken up with his girlfriend, Nick has clearly re-entered the masculine, macho world of male company, the satisfaction of basic appetites and engagement in the sporting world. The story, by focusing on the end of a relationship, therefore deals with the impact of such an event on our sense of self and our identity. The interior world of Nick, that neither his girlfriend nor his friend is able to penetrate, suggests that such a transition is not necessarily a smooth process.


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