Study Guide

Indian Camp Mortality

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A birth probably isn't the greatest place to contemplate your mortality—or to be exposed to it for the first time, in Nick's case. What began as a lesson about birth swiftly becomes one about death—not just regular old death either, but self-inflicted death, which is about ten times darker. Considering that death is one of this story's major themes, it's interesting to consider just how much more attention and page real estate is given to birth. Of course, death sneaks up on us in this story, literally and figuratively. What we eventually realize is that "Indian Camp" has been about death the entire time.

Questions About Mortality

  1. How does the story go from being about suicide to being about mortality (i.e., the fact that we're all going to die)?
  2. Why do you think Nick's father is eager to expose him to the reality of birth, but apologetic when he accidentally exposes him to the reality of suicide/death?
  3. Why do you think the last line of the novel is about Nick's own mortality?

Chew on This

In this story, birth is associated with women and death with men.

In this story, the distinction between birth and death becomes muddled.

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