What is the predominant theme in Hemingway's "Fathers and Sons"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A strong proponent of the power of nature, Ernest Hemingway sets his story, "Fathers and Sons," amid the beauty of cleared fields and thickets.  For Hemingway, there was a healing power to nature as well as the opportunity for man to dominate it, which both serve to make one a better person.  With a story named after the book by Ivan Turngenev, a nihilist who wrote of the growing divide between generations in Russia, Hemingway draws parallels in his narrative as Nick Adams reflects upon his ambivalent relationship with his father.  For, while his father has imparted to Nick his great love of nature and the ability to conquer it--

When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying...and the last one is as good as the first.  He could thank his father for that--

he has also left Nick with resentful feelings:  "He was always disappointed in the way I shot."  Nevertheless, Nick tries to conquer his sentimentality, a sentimentality he has inherited from his father.  Because he was sentimental, Nick's father was both cruel and abused, he reflects.  So, when Nick's own son awakens and asks him about hunting and visiting his grandfather's grave, Nick stoically represses his sentimentality, agreeing:  "I can see we'll have to go."  For, the relationship of father and son is one of paramount importance; it constitutes much of what makes the man. As Nick feels gratitude for what his father has taught him of hunting and fishing, he conquers his negative feelings, finding strength in the power of nature and his stoic masculinity, two prevalent theme in "Fathers and Sons."

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