Hemingway has written many articles. These include novels, journals, newspaper articles and short stories. No doubt, through his revolutionary writings, he has had profound impact on contemporary literature. Among his short stories, “The killers,” has made strong impact, generated numerous criticisms and inculcated significant interest among the readers (Martin, Quentin, 22)

In this story, “The killers,” Hemmingway has used simple language yet complex, fragmented writing style, symbolism and several themes such as corruption, crime, death, purpose of living and conformity. This is unique in his capacity and has made this short story among the most anthologized. This essay analyses this short story by Ernest Hemingway and expresses opinion about it. 

“The killers” is story is based on the perception of Hemingway about a large city in 1920’s. Its plot is based on attempted murder during diner. The diner plays a critical role in the development of the story. It is during this dinner at the lunchroom that Al and Max who are the “Killers” are to meet their victim, Ole Anderson.  

During that era of prohibition, the person who controlled the city was the one who was able to provide more than enough alcohol. This shows how this commodity was pretty abused. In the sane era as the Mafia groups were increasing in their numbers, the police was consistently getting overwhelmed. Their capacity of unravel and tackle crime was deteriorating consistently and fast. 

As the story unfolds, it comes out vividly that Hemmingway and his character Adams Nick were not very familiar with the city. They did not understand how people lived and socialize in that city. They hence had to have enough time to learn. As they continue to live in the town, they are appalled by the turn out of events. They meet unsympathetic gangs who are a threat to people’s life. 

The society, as depicted in the story, disregards the law in place and she is corrupt. The government has also ineffectiveness tactics to implement the law. This is explained by the existence of the Mafia groups.  As Max and Al leave, Al partly conceals a shotgun and boast of their disregard for the law (Cleanth and Warren, 8). 

The theme of Resignation/lose of hope is vividly depicted by Ole, the main center of focuses in the story. After he learns that He is the one to be killed, he is not threatened, he tells Nick that he has nothing to do, and he is ready for the death.  This behavior shows that he is not only resigned to life but also to death (Taub 6). The response of Ole also explains further the attitude of society. He tells him to leave others alone and mind his own business (Hemingway, 17). On the other hand, Sam, the cook warns Nick not to get involved with the occurrences. This shows that the public had given up with the current government which was on the verge of failing to provide security to them. 

To avert suspicion, Al and Max who are apparently the killers, struggles to order for the right thing to eat from George, the waiter. They make an order that is supposed to be for dinner at six o’clock and hence are forced to take a short order (Hemingway 12). Throughout the process they look confused and suspicious since their mind is occupied by the intention of killing. 

During the conversation with Al, Max refers to the town as a “hot town,” this is symbolic as a communication style. Apparently Max meant that it is a safe haven for mobster activities to thrive (Hemingway 13). This is because the town has low enforcement of the law by the police and people are not concerned with the situation since they are tied of complaining to the government. This is reflected by the resignation attitude of the residents. Everyone cares for him or herself and not the other. People to mind own business. (Linda Patterson, 13)

Conformity, as a theme, is also portrayed as the story unfolds. This has made life worse as no one complains about the social disarray that they are currently being subjected to by the mushrooming gangs, the government of the day knows the existence of mafia group but does not do something significant to stop the mushrooming gangs. The police are said to be overwhelmed with the situation. The mafia gangs are brave to execute their antisocial acts such as murder and robbery. From the unfolding of events, the gangs seem to be getting stronger and stronger. Max identifies the new location as a safe “hot town” obviously for them to carry out their activities. This has further left the lives of the people in uncertainty condition. They have learned to live with them: minding their own business (Geimer, Roger, 35)


Finally, this short story by Hemingway has really captured the evil that occurs in the society. Hemmingway shows that due to neglect of the society by the government, social evil such as corruption and murder increases. When these problems are not solved, the society gets incapacitated and looses hope. Themes such as; conformity, corruption and crime come out clearly when the society is forced to live in the current situation. More so the author has used styles such as symbolism to explain his ideas and drive his point home. (Arthur, Waldon, 17)

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