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The Killers

The Killers

by Ernest Hemingway

Men and Masculinity Theme

In "The Killers," masculinity has a lot to do with action. The killers themselves are decisive and resolved, sure of themselves, and unapologetic. As a result, they are undeniably male. Ironically, the man who should be the most masculine – an ex-heavyweight prizefighter, is passive and weak. For the young Nick Adams, coming of age as a man means learning to take action. Because masculinity is so highly valued in the world of "The Killers," any and all joking insults revolve around insinuated femininity on the part of the men.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. Who is the most masculine character in "The Killers?"
  2. How is Max’s masculinity different from that of Al’s?
  3. What defines masculinity in "The Killers"? How is that accomplished in the text?

Chew on This

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

For Nick Adams, the events in "The Killers" are more about understanding masculinity than about losing innocence.

The killers are the least masculine character in "The Killers."

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