80523 Mr. Flood Junior English Period 3 5/6/07 Communing With Nature Equals Psychological Healing In the story “Big Two-Hearted River” the main character Nick comes back from WWI and has gone through a lot. Nature is the healing tool for all man kind. Nature is not confined to forest and field nor even to the far away stars, but becomes part of our every detail in life. Nick Adams uses this forest to help heal him from the psychological ravages from the war.
In the beginning of the story Nick expects to see the scattered houses of the town and the intact railroad station, instead he looks out over the “burned over stretch of hillside”(Hemmingway,1) and realizes things are different. “Seney was burned, the country was burned and changed, but it did not matter, it could not all be burned”(Hemmingway,2). Nick realizes that the pines and the river were still there and that he could continue his quest to find peace within the natural setting. Nick looks off the horizon and sees the pine forest and listens to the solitude with only the bubbling of the river as it rushes over the rocks.
He thinks to himself that this is the first time he has actually felt happy. The rich text that Hemmingway uses throughout the story provides us with elaborate detail and allows us to visualize the natural setting of the story. Nick Adams finds nature to be the best escape from his troubled world. As Nick walks along the river he’s looking for a good place to set up camp “between two jack pines the ground was quite level and this leveled piece of ground was large enough to sleep on”(Hemmingway,4). Nick had found a nice place to make camp and he was happy with himself for finding such a good spot.
As Nick finishes setting up camp, he was quite pleased with himself for building his tent and realizes he’s created his own personal heaven. This symbolizes spiritual renewal for Nick. “Nick was happy as he crawled inside the tent. He had not been unhappy all day. He had made his camp, it was a good place, and he was in his home that he had made. ”(Hemmingway,6) For the first time Nick can feel safe and protected in his self-made home. This self created heaven symbolizes spiritual renewal for Nick. “It was a quiet night, the swamp was perfectly quiet. Nick lay down under his blankets and shut his eyes.
He felt sleep coming, he curled under the blanket and went to sleep. ”(Hemmingway,7) This passage emphasizes how much Nick is appreciating this quiet solitude and how this is starting to heal his wounded soul. Nick lifts his spirits by creating his own personal utopia, setting up camp, fishing and cooking by himself. In the morning with the sun up, Nick goes through a ritual making and cooking his breakfast. Hemmingway’s descriptive narration of Nick’s breakfast preparation allows the reader to again visualize how peaceful and calming nature can be to the human mind. Nick and the fish at the bottom of the river share many similarities.
They seem to think the same way. They both have reasons to be where they are. Both Nick and the fish are using the river as a place to feel safe. The fish feel safe at the bottom of the river and Nick feels safe by the side of the river, away from others and in solitude. “Nick knew there were trout in the shadows of the river, along both banks. The very biggest ones would lie up close in the shadows of the trees. ”(Hemmingway,12) The fish want to stay away from the others, and Nick wants to stay away from the people back home. He’s not ready for questions about what happened in the war and these questions would stir up bad memories.
The fish sit at the bottom thinking how they can avoid ending up on a fisher-mans plate, and Nick sits by the river thinking about what he will do with the rest of his life once his fishing trip is over. This fish and Nick have a lot in common symbolically. They both have the same intentions for their actions and what will give them the best results. Nick is trying to sort things out and is trying to stay alive emotionally just as the fish are trying to stay alive. Hemmingway uses Nick Adam’s character as a way to find his own escape from reality. By using nature, he makes his own great place where he can feel safe from a troubled world.