Saturday, 28 May 2016

BSc BA English Notes Short Stories The Killer (Ernest Hemingway) Summary and Questions Answers

BSc BA English Notes Short Stories The Killer (Ernest Hemingway) Summary and Questions Answers


Summary

The story “The Killers” is about the idea that crime does not pay. Criminals try to escape the consequences of their crimes, but they cannot. They have to face them resignedly. Nobody can help them. They are alone and their own.
It is five o’clock. Two men enter a restaurant. Their names are Al and Max. They are killers. They have come to kill Ole Anderson. Ole is a customer. George, Nick, and Sam are members of the staff of the restaurant.
The two men sat at the counter. They order for a heavy dinner. George tells them that it is five O’clock and they can get the heavy dinner at six O’clock. They talk to the members of the staff rudely. They make fun of them and call them bright boys.
After eating his meal, Al takes Nick and Sam to the kitchen. He makes them hostages at the gunpoint. Max sits with George at the counter to handle the situation. Max asks George to tell the customers that the cook is off. Fortunately, Ole does not come. After waiting almost two hours, they leave the restaurant.
After their departure, Nick goes to Ole’s residence to tell him about the killers. However, Ole listens about the killers very casually. He tells him that nothing can be done. He thanks Nick on his coming and telling him about the killers. Nick returns and tells George about Ole. Nick is afraid of and wants to leave the town. George agrees to it. 

Question Answers


Q: Describe the scene in Henry?s Lunchroom on the arrival of the Killers.
Ans.
Henry's Lunch-room was a small restaurant. It was visited regularly by middle and lower-middle class people. At the time of the incident the lunch- room was making preparations for dinner. The killers Al and Max entered the lunchroom. It was almost empty at that moment. They asked for some food that was not ready at that moment. They were provided with the available food. They ate with their gloves on. Their faces were different but they were dressed like twins. They were wearing derby hats, tight over coats, silk mufflers and gloves. They talked vulgarly.
They covered the staff with guns and started setting the scene for murder. They gagged the staff. They declared that they had come to kill a man named Ole Anderson. They looked quite calm and composed because they were professionals.
The atmosphere in the lunchroom was charged with horror and suspense. It could be sworn that a murder was in the offing.
Then, slowly the suspense began to dissolve, as the victim did not turn up at his usual time. The killers decided to go back. They left, and the atmosphere came back to normal. After the killers had gone away, the proprietor sent one of the servants to Ole Anderson?s residence to warn him against the danger to his life.
The business in the lunchroom resumed. The shadow of terror cast by the presence of the killers vanished with their departure.
The scene at the lunchroom during the presence of the killers is not unusual. In the slums of all big cities scenes of violence, drunken brawls and dacoaties are quite common. Restaurants and lunchrooms are usual venues of such events. That is why there is no unusual commotion or panic in the lunchroom during or after the scene.

Q: What does the story tell us about American Society?
Ans.
The story is a realistic picture of American social life at the lower level of society. It is a movie picture. We can see the characters in action and can hear what they say. We learn a lot from what we see and hear. We learn that Americans are very practical and business like. They are neither romantic nor emotional. 
They do not try to sugar coat their bad deeds. They do not waste time in excuses and explanations. The killers in the story just announce that they are going to kill a man.
They do not bother about excuses. They are callous like machines--- horror proof and even shame proof. We see that crime is no longer a horror in American society. For some people it is just business. You can hire a killer as easily as you can engage a taxi. This is, of course, the bottom of moral decline. American society of the present day is a purely materialistic society. The people have lost their softer human side. They think only in terms of money and power. Everybody lives for himself. Therefore nobody cares for what another does. Nobody is interested in the affairs of the man next-door. Nobody likes anybody to stand in his way. Therefore they do not hesitate from doing away with their rivals. This purely selfish attitude of individuals results in the collapse of society. And American society is now on the verge of a terrible collapse.

 

A Brief Note on Ole Anderson

The character of Ole Anderson has great significance in explaining the background of this story. It is through his reaction that Hemingway wants to convey his views about death. He wants to show that even strong men like the boxer feel helpless before the reality of death. The impending danger to his life had made him deeply dejected. He had been running from his enemies for a long time to save his life. He had now resigned himself to his fate and had realized the futility of the escapist attitude. That is why he did not agree to the suggestion of Nick to go to some other place to save his life. He also considered it useless to seek the help of the police. He was convinced that death is unavoidable and it should be embraced calmly and bravely when it comes. In this respect he has been compared with Nick who felt much upset at the treatment of the terrorists and wanted to go to some safer place. Ole Anderson stands for the stoical acceptance of the reality of death, while Nick symbolizes the escapist attitude to it.

Written by: Asad Hussain

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