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Essay on Cycles of Violence in The Battler

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Cycles of Violence in The Battler

Ernest Hemingway's "The Battler" provides a continued account of Nick Adams' dangerous and violent life. Previous stories compiled in "The Short Stories" edition of Hemingway's work documents some of the tribulations of Nick Adams, one of Hemingway's protagonists. Apparently, Nick has been plagued by moments of sheer humility, terror, and immutable violence. In the Hemingway short story "Indian Camp," Nick is a young boy who witnesses a dreadfully difficult birth by a Native American woman, enduring all the while the hubris of his surgeon father, who is contestibly insensitive to Nick's innocence. Once the birth has ended, the husband of the woman is found with a freshly slit throat, again
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His state of affairs does not improve, however. Nick happens upon a camp of tow men, one of whom is an ex-prizefighter, Ad Francis. Upon arrival, Nick calls out, "Hello," and is greeted by Ad with "Where'd you get that shiner?" (p. 130) Not a typical response, but Nick is about to learn he is not in a set of typical circumstances. Ad Francis' face is described "queerly formed and mutilated...putty in color," with a sunken nose, slitted eyes and with "only one ear." (p. 131) Clearly, the implication is that Ad Francis has seen some beatings in his day. This is confirmed by the man himself: "They all bust their hands on me...they couldn't hurt me." (p. 132) The extreme physical toll taken by Ad has affected him mentally. "Listen," he tells Nick, "I'm not quite right." (p. 132) Like Nick, Ad is a man who has encountered violence and humiliation all of his life. Countless blows have found their mark on his now-deformed face. In a way, Ad is a physical representation of Nick's fortitude and perserverance, a fellow sufferer whose pain has surfaced in a more tangible way, who takes immediate notice of things like black eyes.

Soon after Nick's introduction to Ad, another man approaches the fire. Nick is introduced to Bugs as Ad's "pal...he's crazy too." (p. 133) Physically, Bugs is a stark contrast to Ad's figure: tall, black, low-voiced and calm. Bugs begins to cook a dinner of ham and eggs over the campfire that the
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