The Killers, summary, a short story by Ernest Hemingway: critical analysis of the Elements of Horror and Suspense in the short story “The Killers”.
The Killers Summary:
“The Killers” is a story enriched with suspense and horror as well as terror. The story begins with suspense and horror while it ends with the same feeling ‘what is due next’. These elements of keep our interest alive till the story is finished. In the first instance, the very title of the story, “The Killers”, makes us think what the story would be about…probably bloodshed. What is going to happen in this story? A killer projects the picture of a murder or something cruel and inhuman.
The story begins in a restaurant where two men named Al and Max are seated while waiting for food. The two men start talking to the restaurant staff and soon convey the expression of superiority over the staff by humiliating and disgracing them. The two men reveal casually to the staff that “we are going to kill a Swede…Ole Anderson”. We are shocked to know that Ole Anderson “never had a chance to do anything “to the killers. They don’t even know him. The killers want to kill him “just to oblige a friend”. This terrifies us at the fall of man because the value of human life has reduced to mere nothingness.
Now the killers tie up the restaurant staff inside the kitchen and keep on waiting for Ole Anderson to arrive. There is suspense whether Ole would come or not. A few people come to the restaurant and Nick tells them that cook is off. The killers leave the restaurant after a long wait. As soon as the killers are out of the restaurant, Nick Adams rushes to the lodging of Ole Anderson to inform him of the killers. He is greeted by the lady of the house where Anderson lived. She expresses her anxiety over the health of the Swede who has been in his room for quite long.
Nick, upon entering the room of the Swede, finds him lying on the bed while his eyes faced the fall. Nick Adams informs Old Anderson of the two killers but looking at the physical stature of Anderson it does not seem the killers were strong enough to kill him. Nick says probably it was just a bluff. Old Anderson, a heavy weight prized fighter, confirms that it was not a bluff. We come to know that the great man is just waiting for his death. To him death is an escape from the life he has been leading. H is tired of “all this running around”. We are horrified at the apparent defeat of this “awful man” who might have “double crossed somebody” in Chicago.
We may either like or dislike the notion of death as an escape from the miseries and agonies of present life but we must agree to the fact that suspense and horror don’t seem to end with the story because we are still guessing if the killers would come again or if the Swede would be killed. This suspense does not seem to have a closure because the story teller, Ernest Hemingway, does not wanted us to escape it. There is a looming danger and restaurant staff does agree that the Swede is likely to die.