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The Killers

The Killers


by Ernest Hemingway

Analysis: Genre

Coming-of-Age, Drama, Fantasy meets Realism

If you’ve read Nick Adams’s character analysis, you’ve heard plenty by now about the interpretation of "The Killers" as a loss-of-innocence gig that focuses on Nick encountering evil in the world. So enough about that. The "Drama" label speaks for itself through the terse, intense emotion expressed mainly through dialogue and character interaction, but it’s this last genre that’s really the most interesting to discuss.

In one sense, "The Killers" is a very stark, realistic, unexaggerated portrayal of an event that just happens to be disturbing and unusual. Considering that we’ve got mobsters, guns, men getting tied up and gagged and an impending death, the story does an admirable job of not going overboard with the drama. On the other hand, however, you’ve got some oddly unreal images. The killers, for example, are theatrical and strange. Max wears a silk muffler and cliché hat. They wear their gloves during their meal. They’ve got your typical mobster overcoats on. This sounds like something out of the movies, NOT something that might really happen in a small town lunchroom. The conflict between these two opposite genres – realism and theatrical fantasy – is fascinating to watch (and to talk about in discussions devoted entirely to genre).

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