Study Guide

Indian Camp Medicine

By Ernest Hemingway

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Ever hear someone say "Trust me, I'm a doctor"? Medicine holds a privileged position in our society. It's supposed to be rational, scientific, impartial—even impersonal. It's definitely impersonal in "Indian Camp," where Nick's dad doesn't even seem to care that much about the Indian woman's well-being; sure he operates on her to save her life and the baby's, but he also does so rather callously. "But her screams are not important" (18), he says, paying little attention to her screams or the fact that he doesn't have any anesthetic.

We get a sense of the cold meticulousness of medicine in the description of Dr. Adams washing his hands "very carefully and thoroughly" (21). Nick's dad may be a good doctor (and a sanitary one), but it seems to come at a cost of human empathy. And even though Nick's dad can perform a Caesarian with a jack-knife, he fails to identify or remedy the pain of the suicidal Indian man.

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