Themes

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

In The Battler by Ernest Hemingway, loyalty is the main theme. This story is told from the point of view of Nick, a man just thrown off of a passing train who shares a meal with Ad and Bugs. This perspective allows us to see the unlikely friendship between Ad, a former prizefighter, and Bugs, who met Ad in jail. At the time this story was written black and white people were still segregated and a friendship between the two men would have been unlikely, but we see that it was a true and loyal friendship. Ad has not been quite right in some time, in part because of all the fighting he did, and also because his wife left him. When they got out of jail, Bugs looked up Ad and has become a caretaker of sorts for him. In return, Ad pays for their life, and they keep each other company.

After Bugs, Ad, and Nick have shared a meal, Ad threatens Nick and tries to incite him to fight.No matter what Ad does, Bugs looks out for him. He even hits Ad over the head to keep him from fighting Nick, and he makes sure that Nick can’t hurt Ad if he does decide to fight. He cooks food for them both and keeps him safe. Ad’s ex-wife is also loyal; even though she left him, she still sends him money to make sure that he is OK. Their loyalty toward one another is unending.

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