by Ernest Hemingway
Character Role Analysis
If you go along with the theory that Nick is the protagonist, then George serves as a sort of mentor for him – not in the sense that he teaches Nick anything beneficial, but in the sense that he tells him what to do, for better or worse. After the killers leave the lunchroom, George makes his first suggestion to Nick: "You better go see Ole Andreson." In this case, Nick listens. "All right," he responds. Once he returns, however, George gives his second piece of advice: "You better not think about it." Notice how he uses exactly the same words? That’s no accident. You’d better believe that in a story of 3000 words, every single one matters. Now this is the good stuff: the story ends there. It cuts off before we hear Nick once again say "All right." Will he? We don’t know. We’re inclined to think not, since he just declared he was going to get out of town. We’re inclined to think that Nick has grown up somehow, that he no longer needs (or wants) the type of mentorship that George has to offer.