The Killers Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

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What are some of the themes, symbols, and historical context of the story?

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Written in 1926, Ernest Hemingway's "The Killers" is a story set in the historical period of Prohibition when organized crime was at its rampant with such larger-than-life figures as Al Capone and Dutch Schultz controlling the bootlegging industry.  In addition, Hemingway's disillusionment with American in the wake of World War I is also present in this narrative of two professional killers.


Hemingway uses gangster-like dialogue, as well, to characterize the killers.  They are disinterested in where they are; they are just there to do a job.  The triviality of their discussion also indicates their callousness and cold-blooded nature:

"This is a hot town," said the other.  "What do they call it?"


"Ever hear of it?" Al asked his friend.

"No," said the friend.

Their conversation later is peppered with insults, wisecracks, and slang. For instance, they demean the black cook and call Nick "bright boy."  Nor...

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