What are good essay topics for the following short stories in Hemingway's In Our Time; "The Indian Camp," "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," "The End of Something," "The Battler," "Soldier's...

What are good essay topics for the following short stories in Hemingway's In Our Time; "The Indian Camp," "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," "The End of Something," "The Battler," "Soldier's Home," and "Out of Season"?

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seaofknowledge eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Our Time was is one of Ernest Hemingway's earliest works and one of the most important. It was written in 1925 after World War I, and is different from most literature of the time. The short stories are a representation of modern war and life during war.

Here are some possible essay topics for In Our Time:

How do the stories in In Our Time differ?

Even though the stories in this novel appear to follow one another in tone and concept, they have different settings, times, and involve different types of characters and events.

For example, "On the Quai at Smyrna" describes war, conflict, suffering and destruction caused by the Greco-Turkish war. "Indian Camp," on the other hand, is about Nick's life at home, a peaceful place far away from war.

What lessons does Nick Adams learn in In Our Time?

In Our Time is a series of short stories, mostly featuring the fictional character Nick Adams and his interesting experiences. Nick throughout the stories experiences incidents that teach him about life. He learns about life, death, war, kindness, conflict, and love. The stories that follow Nick from a young age to adulthood also teach Nick about the different stages of life and what they have to offer.

The stories basically show us how Nick transforms as a person, how he discovers the realities of the world.

What is the common theme in all of the short stories of In Our Time?

The common theme in the short stories that make up In Our Time is the contrast that life has to offer. In many of the stories a positive incident is countered with a negative. There is always some kind of struggle that the characters deal with. For example, in the short story "Indian Camp," Nick's father delivers a baby, which is a happy occasion. But soon after it is discovered that the baby's father has committed suicide around the same time. Similarly, there are contrasting incidents throughout the other short stories.

There is also a pattern in the novels in which the character Nick, after experiencing different things away from home, always returns back to it. He makes journeys to different places and learns new lessons but he eventually returns to his home in America. To Nick, home is a calm, peaceful, safe place that he can always depend on. If he needs to get away from the scary world, he can return home and know that he is safe there.

What type of worldview does Hemingway paint with these short stories? Is it meant to be an idealistic account of life or a realistic one?

The short stories definitely reflect a realistic idea of life. The contrasting events show life as black and white. Sometimes extraordinary things happen in life, and life is difficult. But along with the difficult, horrible things, there are also nice and happy things. The character that shows up repeatedly throughout the stories -- Nick -- also experiences both sides of life as he has his happy moments as well as his sad ones.

The short stories also progress with time. They start out describing times of war and conflict and slowly move toward an easier time when conflicts have ended and recovery is taking place. There may be metaphors to this. For example, countries overcoming the destruction and death of war can be a metaphor for people who also go through both rough and good times in life.

At the end of the novel, Nick is a different person than when he started out. Now, he's more careful, more wary because he has experienced difficult things away from home. He has in fact matured, and understands the world and life better.