How does Hemingway's use of "plain" language affect the reader?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hemingway's typical use of minimalism and "plain language" in his story "Big Two-Hearted River" creates what has been known as the "iceberg theory," or as it is also known, "the theory of omission."  The omission of any description of the angst that Nick Adams suffers from his war experiences indicates to the reader that Nick forces the memories out of his conscious mind.

Safe in the woods and the security of his tent,

Nick felt happy.  He felt he had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs.  It was all back of him.

The use of parallelism by Hemingway indicates the order that Nick forces on himself as he controls his thoughts and endures with "grace under pressure."  His methodical actions also underscore Nick's efforts to control his thoughts.  That he is yet bothered is apparent when Nick loses a trout, but he pushes the thoughts from his mind much like the "dammed-back flood of water above the logs."  Also, he does not want to go into the swamp as "in the swamp fishing was a tragic adventure."  This simple description parallels the "tragic adventure" of the war for Nick.  Pushing the thoughts of war and the swamp aside, Nick decides "There were plenty of days coming when he could fish the swamp."

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Big Two-Hearted River

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