Study Guide

George in The Killers

By Ernest Hemingway


Poor George; he really gets the brunt of the killers’ abuse. They taunt him, harass about the dinner menu, call him a "boy," and of course, the eventual icing on the cake, threaten to blow his brains out. And yet, George remains unfazed. He’s calm. He’s pulled together. He’s the kind of guy you’d love to have around during a fire, earthquake, flash flood, or Lost season finale. He’s just that cool in a crisis.

At what point, though, do we stop congratulating him on being the Fonz and start berating him for being callous? When he finally unties Sam and Nick, he’s not exactly freaking out about the fact that a local guy – a guy he knows reasonably well, for that matter – is about to get whacked. He suggests that Nick go talk to him, but adds that he shouldn’t go if doesn’t want. He makes no offer to go himself if need be, and there’s no panicked phone call to the police or wringing of the hands. And look what happens when Nick comes back from his visit with Andreson. George makes casual conversation speculating about why Andreson is going to die, and he wipes the counter with a towel (the same kind of towel, we imagine, that was just used to gag poor Nick) as though nothing major has happened. Does he just not care?

As far as we can tell…yes, but only in the sense that he’s older, more experienced, and recognizes the futility of fighting against an act that’s bound to happen no matter what. George is basically the middle ground between an innocent Nick Adams and a removed Sam. The last few lines of dialogue reveal that, indeed, George is bothered by what’s happened, but that he knows there’s nothing to be done. That’s why it’s best "not [to] think about it."

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