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Identify points of Comedy and Tragedy on the "Big Two-Hearted River" by Ernest Hemingway - Essay Example

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In “Big Two Hearted River,” both comedy and tragedy are used. The two hearts represent both comedy and tragedy and they are found throughout the story. Tragedy is reflected by…
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Identify points of Comedy and Tragedy on the "Big Two-Hearted River" by Ernest Hemingway
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Tragedy and Comedy in the Big Two Hearted River In literature, comedy represents humor while tragedy represents something unpleasant or disaster. In“Big Two Hearted River,” both comedy and tragedy are used. The two hearts represent both comedy and tragedy and they are found throughout the story. Tragedy is reflected by the death of the fish and comedy is represented by events that unfolded when Nick steps and falls into the river. The river has two hearts representing both comedy and tragedy most of the events take place in the river, which is why the story is called the Big Two Hearted River.
Comedy takes place when Nick goes to wade into the water and when he steps in, the current causes him to lose his balance and he slips on the rocks letting one of the grasshoppers to get away. “He was sucked under in the whirl by Nicks right leg and came to the surface a little way down stream. He floated rapidly, kicking. In a quick circle, breaking the smooth surface of the water, he disappeared. A trout had taken him” (50). This ends in the tragic death of the grasshopper but the initial drop and struggling of the grasshopper is somewhat comic based on the way Nick had let it go by slipping. The struggle that Nick continually goes through is also somewhat comic. Something continues to go wrong when he is trying to bag a larger trout. “The trout hung heavy in the net, mottled trout back and silver sides in the meshes. Nick unhooked him; heavy sides, good to hold, big undershot jaw and slipped him, heaving and big sliding, into the long sack that hung from his shoulders in the water” (74).
Tragedy is also something that occurs often in the story as illustrated by Nick when he guts and prepares to eat the trout by performing communion through eating the fish and drinking water from the river imitating what Jesus did in a church service when he used red wine to represent his blood and bread to represent his body. He performed what Jesus did as exemplified by the following. “Nick cleaned them, slitting them from the vent to the tip of the jaw. All the insides and the gills and tongue came out in one piece they were both males; long gray-white strips of milt, smooth and clean. All the insides clean and compact, coming out altogether. Nick took the offal ashore for the minks to find” (93). “He laid his rod down moved along to the shady end of the log and took the sandwiches out of his pocket. He dipped the sandwiches in the cold water. The current carried away the crumbs. He ate the sandwiches and dipped his hat full of water to drink, the water running out through his hat just ahead of his drinking” (87). This is the water or the “blood” of Jesus. Some churches actually dip the bread in the grape juice or wine such as the McMurry chapel.
It can be noted that both comedy and tragedy represent the two hearts in the “Big Two Hearted River.” The death of the fish is tragic and the slip of Nick which caused a grasshopper to escape is comic. Tragedy is presented in a deceptive manner in the story while comedy is portrayed in a slightly more open way. Read More
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