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There are a number of different interpretations that may apply to the theme of Hemingway's short story, given the pointed dearth of action that takes place in it. However, according to his iceberg theory, it appears the theme is really nature's triumph over civilization. A close analysis of this tale confirms this fact.
Although Seney was, there still is an abundance of nature's pure elements to indicate that it has withstood the ravages of fire. The town, however, has not.
In addition to utilizing aspects of the story's setting to emphasize the theme of nature's conquest over civilization, Hemingway also uses different aspects of characterization to reinforce it as well. In terms of Nick's personality, the reader knows precious little information about him. Therefore, what information is given is extremely valuable to analyzing his characterization in respect to the story's theme. As such, it is important to note that throughout the duration if Nick's fishing trek, he is largely quiet. His silence is not only related to the fact that there is no one else to talk to, but also to the fact that talking is a human trait that is practiced in civilized society. Nick's sojourn to the heart of the country surrounding Seney removes him from civilization, so talking and engaging in practices that are appropriate for civilization are not appropriate where he is. The following quotation proves this point. ""I've got a right to eat this kind of stuff, if I'm willing to carry it," Nick said. His voice sounded strange in the darkening woods. He did not speak again" (Hemingway). Nick's voice sounds odd due to his location, which is in a natural setting in the dark. The fact that he does not attempt to talk again shows that he realizes how inappropriate it is to engage in civilized practices when he is removed from civilization. From this perspective, then, it becomes clear that the natural setting has also triumphed over this particular aspect of civilization both externally in destroying the town, but also internally in silencing Nick.
Finally, Nick's solitude also is indicative of Hemingway's theme in this short story. Nick did not always travel, camp and fish alone; he recalls an incident that took place much earlier when he was in the company of two other men. Although a civilization undoubtedly consists of more than three men, even such a small group of people represents civilization in…[continue]
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"Literary Analysis Of Ernest Hemingway S Big Two Hearted River", 09 March 2013, Accessed.19 April. 2015, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/literary-analysis-of-ernest-hemingway-s-86561