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There comes a point in every person’s life when they gain a profound realization
about growing up. Both Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King describe situations in their
stories where this is intended to happen. In “Indian camp” and “The Last Rung on the
Ladder” the main characters encounter incidents that help them grow and mature.
In “Indian Camp”, Nick undergoes several significant experiences, but he fails to
reach an epiphany. Nick is brought to the Indian camp and he witnesses a baby being
born (2). He is lucky to have the opportunity to witness something so special. It is sad
though that he cannot appreciate the miracle of birth for what it is, and is rather
indifferent towards the whole thing. After the baby is born, they go to check on the
father and find that he slit his throat, “Nick, standing in the doorway of the kitchen, had a
good view of the upper bunk when his father, the lamp in one hand, tipped the Indians
head back” (4). Nicks father tries to hide it from him because he does not want Nick to
see such a brutal and disturbing scene. Nevertheless, unlike the delivery of the baby,
Nick is interested in the self-inflicted death of the Indian and he wants to see the dead
body because he is curious about loss of life and he doesn’t know what to make of it. At
the end of the story, Nick’s father tries to explain dying to him, and Nick ” felt quite
sure that he would never die” (4). Nick is too young to understand either of the two
occurrences that he observes, so he is not scared or amazed. Because of his unfamiliarity
with the whole idea of passing away, Nick has abstract ideas about it, and that is why he
thinks he will never die.
In “The Last Rung on the Ladder”, Katrina commits suicide, and Larry finally
realizes that his family is more important than his profession. After Kitty writes Larry a
letter, he responds and says, ” I’d love to come, but I couldn’t. I had landed a job in a
high pressure firm, low guy on the totem pole that was my long letter, and it was all
about my career.” (8). These letters are the only contact Larry has with his sister, and all
he talks about is his job. This is proof that he doesn’t really value his relationship with
his sister; he is more preoccupied with his career. After telling about his childhood, the
narrator says “Somehow it never ended until nine days ago, when Kitty jumped from the
top story of an insurance building in Los Angeles.” (8). Larry never really thought that
his sister had any problems until she had taken her own life. If he had taken the time to
pay attention to his sister’s cries for help, such a tragedy could have been avoided.
Talking about the letter he received after Katrina’s death, the narrator says ” that one
sentence was maybe the only thing that would have brought me on the run.” (9). It is sad
that only a direct suicide threat would have gotten enough of his attention to go see his
sister. Larry should have valued his relationships with family a little more, and through
involvement in her life, he probably could have prevented her death before it became too
Nick and Larry are both directly affected by the act of suicide. Nick actually
witnesses it firsthand, but strangely, in the end it makes him believe that he will live
forever. On the other hand, Larry is devastated when he finds out that his sister has killed
herself, especially after he discovers that he could have done something to change it.
Larry’s case is an example where a great loss causes him to reach an important revelation
about his life.
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