The Killers
The Killers
by Ernest Hemingway
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The Killers Theme of Appearances

Nothing is what it seems in "The Killers." The story is pervaded with feelings of confusion, unease, and uncertainty. From people to buildings to names, we just can’t trust what we see. Part of this has to do with irony: killers are comic, fighters are weak and defeated. The story’s loss-of-innocence theme is related to the realization that the world is filled with this sort of sad, illogical irony.

Questions About Appearances

  1. OK, OK, we get it, "nothing is what it seems." But so what? What does this have to with the way we read the story? How does it effect what we take away from "The Killers"? What does it have to do, for instance, with the loss of innocence, or evil in the world, or masculinity?
  2. What do the killers "appear" to be – killers, or vaudeville comedians? And which are they?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The killers are the only characters in "The Killers" who appear as who they are.

The killers are the characters most at odds with their own appearances; in this way, the story’s title is meant to be ironic.

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