"Indian Camp" Characterization

1448 WordsFeb 6, 20116 Pages
”Characterization of the main characters” “Indian Camp” Nick followed his father to an Indian camp to witness his father help a women through childbirth. At first glance “Indian Camp” seems to be about a boy’s right of passage experience, as he witnesses a child’s birth. This beautiful feminine act is however described through masculine eyes, and therefore is more about the father’s development than it is about Nick’s or the Indian woman. But this story also unarguably represents an initiation, or a loss of innocence for Nick. When the “young Indian stopped and blew out his lantern”. The literal shift from lightness to darkness signals the metaphorical separation for Nick. He is no longer sitting in his comfort zone. From the beginning of…show more content…
This emphasizes that he has detached himself from the extreme agony of the scene to the extent that he is able to relish in the crudeness of it with pleasure. Nick, on the other hand, has clearly been bothered by the event. He is “looking away so as not to see what his father was doing” during the operation, “didn’t look” and “did not watch” as his father made the incision. He also says that “his curiosity had been gone for a long time”. This shows his uncomfortable avoidance of the situation contrasts strongly with his father’s noisy bragging. That also further illustrates the distinction between childhood empathy with suffering and adult masculine detachment to it. The matter of witnessing a death is not one that can be dealt with easily, the fact that the Indian man committed suicide was a memory that would haunt Nick for the rest of his life. Nick faced a choice at the beginning of the story: he can either empathize with the suffering woman and “curse himself with a death full endless empathy” or identify with his coldly rational father and forever lose his “capacity for humanity”. To empathize with the woman is portrayed as the childish reaction, as Nick does this at the beginning of the story before he has experienced the violent situation. To reject her suffering and rise above it is portrayed as the masculine, stoic, adult reaction. This is portrayed by Nick’s father by saying that “her screams do not
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