by Ernest Hemingway
Indian Camp Theme of Innocence
Ah, to be young, and carefree, and—you guessed it—innocent. "Innocent" in this case means something like naïve, unaware, unburdened—basically, it means that when "Indian Camp" begins Nick doesn't have much experience yet, especially with things like the messy realities of childbirth and death (not to mention suicide-by-razor). And once Nick has those experiences, he has to re-shape his understanding of the world so that they fit into it. Maybe when you were younger your parents told you that they gave your dog Sparky away to a farm upstate, and then at some point you found out that Sparky was actually buried in the backyard. Well, now your worldview has changed, your paradigms have shifted, and you are forced to think about the fact that everything dies—including, someday, you. Not very innocent, now, is it?
Questions About Innocence
- Is there a point in the story where Nick loses his innocence, or is it something that happens gradually?
- How do we know that Nick is innocent at the beginning of the story? What indications do we get that he is less so (or completely not) at the end?
- What exactly does "innocence" mean in this case?
Chew on This
The suicide has a bigger impact on Nick's innocence than the trauma of the birth does.
Nick's innocence is completely gone by the end of the story.