Complete Notes on Punjab university english Short Stories and one-act plays for b.a students- the killers

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1. The Killers

                (Ernest Hemingway)
Summary
The story “The Killers” presents us the idea that crime has to be disgraced in the long run. It brings hard consequences for the committers. It brings about horror and distrust among the people. The story also tells us many truths of life.
At five o’clock, two men named Al and Max entered a restaurant called Henry’s Lunch-room. They were professional killers. Henry’s Lunch-room is a small restaurant which is visited by middle and lower-middle class people. The restaurant was almost empty at the time Al and Max entered. They sat and ordered for heavy dinner. George, the man at the counter told them that heavy dinner was not ready as it is offered from six O’clock. They make fun of the restaurant rules. They were provided with the available food. 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 rudely to the members of the restaurant staff.
Suddenly, they take out their guns point at the members of the staff. Al takes Nick and Sam to the kitchen while keeping them on gunpoint. Max sits with George at the counter to handle the situation. He asks George to tell the customers that the cook is off. They declared that they had come to kill a man named Ole Anderson who visited the restaurant at that time regularly. They wait for him but, on that day, he does not come. After waiting for almost two hours, they leave the restaurant.
After their departure, Nick goes to Ole’s residence to tell him about the killers. However, Ole listens about the killers very casually. He tells him that nothing can be done. He thanks Nick on his coming and telling him about the killers. Nick returns and tells George about Ole. Nick is afraid of and wants to leave the town. George agrees to it.

Q.1. Describe the scene in Henry’s Lunchroom on the arrival of the Killers.
OR How do the Killers treat the members of the staff of the restaurant?
The scene at the lunchroom during the presence of the killers is not unusual. In the slums of all big cities scenes of violence, drunken brawls and dacoaties are quite common. At the arrival of the killers, Henry’s Lunch-room is almost empty. Only members of the staff are present. They are preparing for the dinner. George is at the counter and Adam is in the kitchen making food.  Al and Max enter the restaurant, look around, look at the menu board and sit on a table. They ask for food items that are served as heavy dinner. George tells them that heavy dinner was not ready at that time. They make fun of the restaurant rules and menu. They are served with available food which they eat silently.
Suddenly, they take out their guns point at the members of the staff. Al takes Nick and Sam to the kitchen while keeping them on gunpoint. Max sits with George and asks him to tell the customers that the cook is off. They declared that they had come to kill a man named Ole Anderson. There is an atmosphere of horror and fear in the restaurant. They wait for Ole Anderson but he does not come. After waiting for almost two hours, they leave the restaurant. (214 words)

Q.2. What does the story tell us about American society? OR The story “The Killers” reflects some of the darkest aspects of the modern American society. Discuss.
The story highlights many points about American society. Story illustrates the materialism of the 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.
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. People do not hesitate from doing away with their rivals. They even hire killers to take revenge from others. Even innocent people are helpless against the killers. They cannot get help from the police either. The best they can do is to leave towns.
This purely selfish attitude of individuals results in the collapse of society. We see that crime is no longer a horror in American society. For some people it is just business. This is, of course, the bottom of moral decline. (199 words)

Q.3. What is the theme of the story “The Killers”? OR What kind of understanding does “The Killers” impart to the reader?
The theme of the story “The Killers” imparts a specific understanding to the reader. The story tells that crime does not pay. Criminals try to escape the consequences of their crimes, but they have to face them. Nobody can help them. They are alone and on their own.
Firstly, Ole’s present condition clearly tells us that crime does not pay. Two professional killers are after him and want to kill him. Perhaps he has double-crossed someone who has sent these killers. His crime has put him in a horrible situation. He is alone in his room and lying on his bed.
Secondly, he cannot escape the consequences of his crime. The killers have been chasing him for a long time. Ole Anderson has been doing everything to get rid of these killers. Now he has come to know that he will have to face the consequences. That is why, he tells Nick, “I’m through with all that running around.” He plainly says, “There isn’t anything to do now.”
Thirdly, we see that nobody can help him. He tells Nick that going to the police and getting out of the town will not do any good. Nick cannot help Ole. (199 words)

Q.4. What was the reaction of Ole Anderson when he heard about the killers who had come to kill him?
When we read the story “The Killers” carefully, we find that the reaction of Ole was very casual when Nick told him about the Killers. When Nick told Ole about the killers, he said nothing. Nick told him that the killers wanted to shoot him, but still Ole said nothing. He looked at the wall. His looking at the wall shows his indifference to the serious situation. Nick told him that George had asked him to come to him and tell him about the killers. Ole said, “There isn’t anything I can do about it.”
He also said that he did not want to know what the killers were like. He told him that going to the police and running out the town would not do any good. He knew that the killers would kill him and it was not a bluff. He said to Nick, “There isn’t anything to do now.” He was talking in the same flat voice. He was resigned to his fate. He knew that the killers would kill him and there was no escape. (179 words)

Q.5. Discuss the elements of horror in the story “The Killers” by Ernest Hemingway. OR “The Killers” is full of suspense and horror. Elaborate
The story “The Killers” is full of elements of horror. When we read the story, we find that the elements of horror are very dominant and the suspense in the story is at peak.
Firstly, we find horror when the killers make the members of the staff of hostages. Al takes Nick and Sam to the kitchen at the gunpoint. He ties them back-to-back. He gags them with towels. Max stays with George at the counter. Al threatens George indirectly that he would blow his head off.
Secondly, when the killers go back, Al asks Max, “What about the two bright boys and the nigger?” Actually, he wants to kill the members of the staff of the restaurant, but Max does not agree.
Thirdly, the helpless condition of Ole is very fearful. He looks so much helpless that the reader takes pity on him. Ole’s condition is very horrible. He is waiting for his death.
Fourthly, the talk between George and Nick also creates horror. Nick is so much afraid that he wants to leave the town. He says, “I’m going out of this town.” At this George says, “That’s good thing to do.” Sam is so afraid that he does not want to listen to anything relating to Ole and the killers. (213 words)

CHARACTER SKETCHES
Ole Anderson
Ole Anderson has been presented as a symbolic character for many of the old men of his time. He has fought against the hardships of life but now he has given up the struggle. Life and death were now equal to him. Anderson’s life symbolizes some of the darkest aspects of American life or of the advanced Western civilizations. Inner peace and spiritual satisfactions are what religion alone can provide.
He may be a middle-aged fellow. He is a tall man. He has been a heavyweight boxer. He is a polite fellow, and people like him. Mrs. Bell, the housekeeper, likes him. When George comes to tell him about the killers, he thanks him.

Two killers are after him and want to kill him. He has been running from town to town, but now he is ready to die. He has realized that nobody can help him and he will have to face his death. Nick asks him, “Isn’t there something I could do?” He answers, “No. There isn’t anything to do.” This answer shows his mental condition. (178 words)

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