The Killers Topics for Further Study
by Ernest Hemingway

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Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

  • In groups, research the history of crime in Chicago in the 1920s, paying particular attention to Al Capone and Dutch Schultz. Report your findings to your class, and then discuss any contemporary parallels. For example, is there a city like Chicago today with individuals like Capone or Schultz controlling illegal industries?
  • At the end of ‘‘The Killers,’’ Nick says he is going to leave town. In two pages, write where he goes and what he does next. Try to use Hemingway’s own spare style.
  • Read other stories about Nick Adams in Hemingway’s collection The Nick Adams Stories, and then discuss how his character in ‘‘The Killers’’ is similar to and different from his portrayal in other stories.
  • Film historians claim that film noir emerged from the gangster films of the 1920s and 1930s. In class, view the 1931 gangster film, Public Enemy, starring James Cagney, and then view the 1946 adaptation of ‘‘The Killers,’’ starring Burt Lancaster. After researching film noir, discuss how Hemingway’s film illustrates or departs from elements of the gangster movie or film noir.
  • Hemingway’s story is constructed like a play. Divide the class into four groups, assigning each group one ‘‘scene’’ of the play, using the divisions in the plot summary. Have each group perform one of the scenes for the class. Afterwards, discuss choices each group made in staging and performing.
  • In pairs, write a short dialogue in which a student tries to convince her teacher she deserves a better grade. Use the short, conversational style that Hemingway uses in ‘‘The Killers,’’ and then perform the dialogue for your class.