The Killers (Short Stories)

Q.1:     Describe the scene in Henry’s Lunchroom on the arrival of the Killers.

Or       Describe Henry’s lunchroom and what happened there? PU 2004

Henry’s Lunch-room was a small restaurant, situated in Summit, a small town of America. It was visited regularly by middle and lower-middle class people. It was often visited by criminals in pursuit of their victims. At the time of preparations for dinner, two killers Al and Max entered the lunchroom at 5 p.m. They asked for some food that was not ready at that moment. They were provided with the available food like eggs, ham and Bacon. They ate with their gloves on. Their faces were different but they were dressed like twins. They were wearing derby hats, tight over coats, silk mufflers and gloves. They talked vulgarly.

After lunch, Al took both Nick and Sam into the kitchen forcefully. He tied them back to back and gaged them. Then Max told their intention to kill a man named Ole Anderson. By this murder, they wanted only to oblige and please their friend.

The atmosphere in the lunchroom was charged with horror and suspense. Then, slowly the suspense began to dissolve, as the victim did not turn up at his usual time. The killers decided to go back at 7 p.m. and the atmosphere came back to normal. After their departure, the proprietor sent nick Adams to Ole Anderson’s residence to warn him against the danger to his life. The business in the lunchroom resumed.225

Q. 2:    What is the purpose of visiting Henry’s lunch room?

Or       why do the killers enter Henry’s lunch room?

Or       Why did they want to kill old Anderson?

Or       The killers is a story about anonymous people nearly in anonymous setting.             2002

The story is about the attempt of the murder of old Anderson who often visited Henry’s lunch room, situated in Summit, a small town of America. It was often visited by criminals in pursuit of their victims. At the time of preparations for dinner, two killers Al and Max entered the lunchroom at 5 p.m. They asked for some food that was not ready at that moment. They were provided with the available food like eggs, ham and Bacon. They ate with their gloves on. Their faces were different but they were dressed like twins. They were wearing derby hats, tight over coats, silk mufflers and gloves. They talked vulgarly.

After lunch, Al took both Nick and Sam into the kitchen forcefully. He tied them back to back and gaged them. Then Max told their intention to kill a man named Ole Anderson. By this murder, they wanted only to oblige and please their friend.

The atmosphere in the lunchroom was charged with horror and suspense. Then, slowly the suspense began to dissolve, as the victim did not turn up at his usual time. The killers decided to go back at 7 p.m. and the atmosphere came back to normal. After their departure, the proprietor sent nick Adams to Ole Anderson’s residence to warn him against the danger to his life. In the end, Anderson said to nick Adams, “I am through with all that running around.” He had annoyed some one in Chicago. Since the hirelings were after him to kill him.253

Q.3:     Who is Ole Anderson? Describe his strange reaction towards the incident. Or Character sketch of Ole Anderson

Ole Anderson is the central character around whom, the whole story revolves. He is a Swede boxer but now seems to be retired from the ring. He has so gentle nature that even the caretaker lady praises him. “He is an awfully nice man” When the killers leave the restaurant Nick the waiter goes to Ole Anderson to tell him about the incident but he behaves in a strange way. It seems that he is tired of running from his death. When Nick tells him about the killers about their appearance he just ignores it and says. “I don’t want to know what they were like” Nick even tries that he should inform the police but Anderson again refuses and says, “That wouldn’t to any good” He is also sure that the killers are after him that’s why he tells Nick. “No. it ain’t just a bluff’. His behaviour is so strange that all the time that he talks to Nick. He even doesn’t look at him but sees it well. It seems that he is really disappointed with his life. However, he discloses the reason that he was in trouble in Chicago. 192

Q. 4:    “The Killers” is a powerful story. Discuss.  

Or       “The Killers” is a story of suspense and horror Discuss.

Or       Discuss the Killers as a story of atmosphere.

Or       The killers leave the place yet they leave behind them a looming shadow of death under which the reader experiences horror. Discuss. 2000-I

Or       The killers is a thriller or crime story.

 From the beginning till end, the writer has created a very powerful impact of horror and suspense in the reader’s mind. The killers’ entrance, their strange dresses and behaviour with the restaurant staff create suspense. Setting of sun and getting dark outside also contribute a lot to the horror in the atmosphere.

Al’s taking of Nick and Sam into the kitchen forcefully; tying and gagging them there show their terrible intention. When they disclose that they want to kill Ole Anderson, all the staff of the restaurant get terrified. They know even a minute detail of Ole Anderson’s visits to the restaurant. Then they keep watch mysteriously. The servants are certain of their death at any moment. The reader is also afraid.

Sam the cook is really frightened as he says to his colleagues “You better stay away out of it”. Nick is also horrified and he decides to leave the town immediately. In the end, when Nick informs Ole Anderson about all what has happened he is not afraid of his death. It is also an element of suspense.  Hence the killers do create an atmosphere of suspense and horror which the readers can’t help feeling. 197

Q. 5     What does the story tell us about American Society?

 The story is a realistic picture of American social life at the lower level of society.  It is a movie picture.  We can see the characters in action and can hear what they say. We learn a lot from what we see and hear.  We learn that Americans are very practical and business like.  They are neither romantic nor emotional. They do not try to sugar coat their bad deeds. They do not waste time in excuses and explanations. The killers in the story just announce that they are going to kill a man.  They do not bother about excuses. They are callous like machines— horror proof and even shame proof. We see that crime is no longer a horror in American society. For some people it is just business. You can hire a killer as easily as you can engage a taxi. This is, of course, the bottom of moral decline. American society of the present day is a purely materialistic society.  The people have lost their softer human side. They think only in terms of money and power. Everybody lives for himself. Therefore nobody cares for what another does. Nobody is interested in the affairs of the man next-door. Nobody likes anybody to stand in his way. Therefore they do not hesitate from doing away with their rivals. This purely selfish attitude of individuals results in the collapse of society. And American society is now on the verge of a terrible collapse. 244

Q. 6     The killers are not only strange in their dress but also in their               behaviour. Discuss.

Or       How did they behave with the attendants of the hotel?

The Killers is an interesting story by Hemingway in which two hirelings named Al and Max want to kill a man. As they enter the restaurant no one suspects them to be professional cutthroats. They look strange not only in their outward appearance but also in their behaviour. They ate with their gloves on. Their faces were different but they were dressed like twins. They were wearing derby hats, tight over coats, silk mufflers and gloves. They behave in a strange way with the staff of the restaurant. They make fun of the counterman George. “You are a pretty bright boy aren’t you?” “He is dumb” Both eat their food with their gloves on. Max flares up when George tries to laugh. “You don’t have to laugh at all, see?” While Al takes Sam and Nick into the kitchen, Max sits at the counter. He continuously looks into the mirror while he is talking to George. It is also strange when George asks Max again and again what is going on, he does not tell him anything, instead he advises George to watch movies more. While leaving the restaurant they again make fun of George. “So long, bright boy, you got a lot of luck” “That’s the truth, you ought to play the races bright boy”