Lead #2 – Hemingway’s “The Killers” (and one of H’s poems)

Working notes – Lead 2 – Hemingway’s “The Killers

Students will identify various forms of power evidenced in the story; students will examine the effects of rhetorical tools on themselves as readers.

Students are assumed to have read the story before class.

Ask for synopsis. Do they have any questions about the story?
Why didn’t they call the police? <discuss history, corruption of police forces>

What is Power? <control, authority, influence, dominance, mastery, domination, dominion, sway, weight, leverage> (Power).

Power WordsAcknowledge the “N” word (12x in just over 3000 words) <I wish the word had lost its power, but it has not. I am uncomfortable using it because I don’t to offend anyone.>??? ask/don’t ask. <How do you all feel about it?>

What kinds of power are there? (check off – mention some if little response).

Levels of Power – from the individual to global levels.

Spheres of Power – various spheres of power comprise a context. For example, Phase III of the SII outlined a number of spheres that it identified as important for its study on women’s empowerment and HIV vulnerability, which include:

  • Economic : access to markets, credit, trade, savings, etc.;
  • Political/policy : social and welfare schemes, women’s representation in administrative structures, changes in policies;
  • Legal : legal and judicial environment and its protection of vulnerable groups
  • Social/cultural : gender roles, interpersonal relationships, attitudes and practices around gender-based violence, sexuality and control over one’s body, conflict-resolution practices, etc.;
  • Normative factors : gender norms, systems of inheritance, polygamy;
  • Infrastructures/systems : the conditions in the workplace or in basic services like health, education, etc.; and

Types of Power – As discussed in the SII Women’s Empowerment Overview, there are various types of power:

  • Personal power :  The power within and power to know, pursue and achieve one’s interests.
  • Cooperative power : The power with others to work together to pursue one’s collective interests.
  • Controlling power : The power over others through rules and governing processes (visible), through determining who has the right to participate in decision-making and the settings in which people interact (invisible), as well as through the power to define what is possible, reasonable or logical within a given context through shaping ideologies of kinship, capitalism, religion, science and education (hidden). (CARE).

Power and Powerlessness – Instances in text

Insults and jokes at George/Nick/Sam’s expense

Al (mostly) to George and Nick: “bright boy” (216-19).

Al about George: “He’s dumb” (216).

Al (8x) and Max about Sam: “n-word” (217-19).

Ordering them around (Why do they obey? No weapon seen yet)

Max to Nick “You go around on the other side of the counter. . .” (217).

Al to George “tell [Sam] top come out here” (217).

Al to Sam and Nick “Go on back to the kitchen [Sam]. You go with him, bright boy” (217)

Homosexual slurs

Max to Nick “with your boy friend” (217)

Al to Max “I got them [Sam and Nick] tied up like a couple of girl friends in the convent” (218).

Max to George “You’d make some girl a nice wife, bright boy” (219)

Andreson’s powerlessness

Why doesn’t he act?

What about the written form’s power?

“It breaks up into one long scene and three short scenes. . . . The focus of the narration is objective throughout, practically all information being conveyed in simple realistic dialogue.” (Brooks 114).

Who’s story is it? (power here?)

Gangsters (Al and Max)?





Works Cited

Brooks, Cleanth and Robert Penn Warren. “The Discover of Evil: An Analysis of ‘The Killers.” Hemingway: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Robert P. Weeks. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962.114-117. Print.

“CARE Gender Toolkit.” PQDL: Program Quality Digital Library. CARE USA. n.d. Web. 16 February 2011.

Hemingway, Ernest. “The Killers.” The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Scribner, 1998. Print.

“Power.” Apple Dictionary. Ver. 2.1.3. Digital file. 16 February 2011.

Weeks, Peterson, ed. Hemingway: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962. Print.


Hemingway’s response to a critical review of Men Without Women:


For a Mr. Lee Wilson Dodd and Any of His Friends Who Want It.

Sing a song of critics

pockets full of lye

four and twenty critics

hope that you will die

hope that you will peter out

hope that you will fail

so they can be the first one

be the first to hail

any happy weakening or sign of quick decay.

(All very much alike, weariness too great,

sordid small catastropes, stack the cards on fate,

very vulgar people, annals of the callous,

dope fiends, soldiers, prostitutes,

men without a gallus)

Hemingway, Ernest, “Valentine,” Little Review, XII (May, 1929), 42.

(Weeks 4).

Just because I like it.

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