Big Two Hearted River by Earnest Hemmingway: Nick’s Rejuvenation
War is a terrible thing and leaves behind horrible marks. Nick returns from World War 1 to find Seney, Michigan ravaged by it. Without clearly referring to his ordeals in the war, Hemmingway presents a scene which indicates that the war has just been over. Nick seems to be ill with PTSD and he is planning to recover from his traumatic experiences by rejuvenating in the nature.
In the story, readers can find Nick taking a lonely and quiet journey into the nature. His loneliness and silence are the signs of haunting memories from the war showing he is ill and trying to emerge from his trauma. The war has left everything covered in black smoke like a black scar on the earth. Even the grasshoppers are a sooty black. Nick starts gaining some of his strength during his initial reverie in the nature. Trout fishing is a great idea and it is not difficult to know that the nature’s healing process has begun. Nick can feel the soothing effect, the tranquility that nature offers. Nature is the best healer and she allows Nick the playfield he has missed and to be with himself and reenergize his soul. It heals Nick by taking him away from his trauma and clearing his soul and conscience of the scars that war had left. As Nick continues to gain energy, horrifying memories of war start vanishing. In a way Hemmingway has also portrayed a soldier’s trauma and detachment that war can cause and how nature can make the same soul glow with a new energy. Nick’s soul has lost its energy seeing the wastage of war and is feeling impoverished by being subjected to continuous trauma. It again finds nourishment and the plant of life grows back.
Nick is ill inside when he plans to go trout fishing. It is through this isolated journey of a soldier that Hemmingway highlights the contrast between war and nature. War can take away everything but particularly the peace of mind. Nature can restore it. The memories of war are echoing in Nick’s mind and scenes from it are eating his soul. The only power that can prevent the decay is nature. On one side is war that leaves everything ravaged and even human emotions. On the other side is the bliss offered by nature. Nature heals and returns the most valuable thing war can take away; the soul’s bliss and energy. There are three important factors that lead to Nick’s healing in the story – Nick’s physical tasks, the nature and the society. Even the trouts and the river and the log are all a part of the healing process. The wounds inflicted by the war are psychological and Nick is feeling torn and wounded like his city. He finds some solace in the nature and in trout fishing. His playing with grasshoppers, catching them and other tasks like catching the trouts are a part of the rejuvenation process.
He gets busy and happy like a child and keeps himself away from the traumatic memories of war. The nature is like a mother and protects Nick from the bloody and terrifying memories of war. He is away from the society and far from any rush or violence. The reaction begins right when Nick leaves the society behind to enter nature. The noises of war are replaced by the music of nature. However, the grasshoppers and the trout also reminding him of his own society. The story is also filled with important symbols like the trout, grasshoppers, the log and the marsh. The trout are like a prize that nature offers and represent the wealth and happiness found in nature. The black grasshoppers represent the destruction caused by war and how things change with it. People and animals start adapting to their changed surroundings. Nick is afraid to enter the marsh which represents the battlefield. It can reignite those terrifying memories related to the Warfield. The dead log again reminds of a carcass from the battlefield. Still, the best thing is that nature has retained most of its bliss and harmony unlike the human society that is engaged in war and slaughter. Society is full of things that make people like Nick lose their mental peace.
also compares the freedom offered by the nature with the issues human society is held captive by. He shows how distant society has grown from its true nature and some day will have to return to it to regain its hold. Far from the war, Hemmingway takes the readers on a pleasant journey into the nature where someone can pause and enjoy the refreshing calm. Hemmingway’s work holds deeper meaning which is not just about war but everything that the human society has created and which is against real human nature. The work also makes readers think deeply over the things like politics and war which after all have annihilated human peace. It is the ordinary citizen who is getting to bear the burnt of all the social chaos and disorder. Basically, he is referring to this disorder which is against nature and if anyone wants true order then he needs to get back to nature. The pleasure offered by nature is unequalled and towards the end of the story Nick is happily busy fishing and cleaning the trout, with hardly any signs of trauma but only his solitary business and a new life with nature.