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Who is the protagonist of "The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway?

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ratnachak | Student, Graduate | eNoter

Posted November 30, 2010 at 2:38 AM via web

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Who is the protagonist of "The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway?

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 30, 2010 at 6:09 AM (Answer #1)

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Nick Adams is considered to be the protagonist in "The Killers". He is a young man sitting in the diner when the two hit men enter. He is still innocent regarding the reality of the criminal world of the 1920s. The men who have been hired to kill Ole introduce Nick to this world where violence and death are a regular part of doing business. Nick feels he must warn Ole of the danger, but Ole has resigned himself to accept the situation and just wait in his room for the men to kill him. Nick's innocence has come to an end, bringing him into the adult world. His young age leads him to express his desire to get away from Summitt because he sees no other way to deal with the situation.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 29, 2012 at 8:32 AM (Answer #2)

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A protagonist is the character whose motivation makes the story happen. He is not necessarily the hero or the viewpoint character. I believe that the protagonist in Hemingway's "The Killers" never actually appears. He is "the friend" who has hired the two hit men to go to the town of Summit and kill Ole Andreson. We feel his presence even though we never see him or learn his identity. I would call Nick Adams the viewpoint character, although some of the action is seen through the eyes of George while Nick is bound and gagged offstage in the kitchen. The antagonist would have to be Ole Andreson, since he is the man the "friend" who presumably lives in Chicago wants to have killed. Ole has been on the lam for some time, trying to escape the vengeance of this powerful and seemingly omniscient man, undoubtedly a mobster like Al Capone.

 

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