Some critics say that Uncle George is the father of the baby born. What effect does this interpretation have on the meaning of the story?

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Uncle George's role in Hemingway's short story "Indian Camp" is mysterious. He has no clear purpose for accompanying Nick and his father to the camp to deliver the woman's baby, but some of his behaviors suggest a familiarity with the place. As well, the woman bites Uncle George on the arm; the reader can interpret this gesture as a pressure release for a woman in intense pain, or as an expression of anger and blame towards the father of the baby about to be born.

If Uncle George is the father, the story does change. Nick's father is no longer a doctor interested in helping the general public, Indians included, but a doctor doing a personal favor for Uncle George. If Uncle George is the father (and is Nick's actual uncle), it may explain why Nick is even present at the birth. Nick is not witnessing the birth of just any baby, but of his own cousin. The suicide of the Indian man also changes in meaning; perhaps the man knew about the woman and Uncle George, and the baby's birth is too much for him to bear as the boy is living proof of some sort of difficult situation. No matter if the baby was the result of a love affair or a forced encounter between the woman and Uncle George, the pregnancy would be a painful reminder of what had happened.

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There is some evidence that George could be the father of the Indian woman's child. He is smoking a cigar on the way to the camp, and when he arrives, he hands out cigars to the men, an old-fashioned custom for new fathers.  

Hemingway's story is often interpreted as a coming-of-age story, with Nick learning about birth and its potential complications and being able to hold himself together in a gory and emotionally trying situation. However, if George is the baby's father, the story has an added dimension. It is the familiar story of a white man taking advantage of a minority female, and his presence at the birth deepens the offense against her husband. When Nick's father dismisses her screams as "not important" and delivers her baby through a Cesarean section, the shame and anger that he dare not show, as well as the humiliation at his own powerlessness, are too much for the woman's husband to bear. The story then becomes a meditation on manhood with racial overtones.

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