Impalpable Scars: Dual Traumas in Hemingway’s “Now I Lay Me” and “A Way You’ll Never Be”

Richard Kovarovic

Abstract

This article aims to contribute to the body of scholarly discussion surrounding Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams Stories as interconnected works of subtle yet complex depictions of trauma and memory. It primarily focuses on two stories, “Now I Lay Me” and “A Way You’ll Never Be,” and attempts to unearth hidden parallels between the two, ultimately positing that each story informs the other in vital ways. The article does so through an examination of memory types, the narrative nature of episodic personal memory, and incorporation of an analysis on the disruptive nature of traumatic memory. Using that framework, it examines the function of screen memory and trauma in “Now I Lay Me,” a story of nocturnal haunting, and unearths the existence of dual traumas within the text, those suffered in combat and those in childhood. Connections are made to the events and experiences of “A Way You’ll Never Be,” with the episodes Nick suffers interpreted as dreams. Thus, the image of the unplaceable yellow house is viewed as a manifestation of the domestic trauma of Adams’s childhood, with the home itself representative of the terror of obliteration, a second trauma revealed and existing beyond the boundaries of the text.

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