The protagonist of "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," a writer who has accomplished comparatively little in writing, instead choosing to live off a series of rich wives. He is dying of a septic leg on safari in Africa and ruminates on both his experiences and his failure to write about them.
The wife of Harry, the protagonist of "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." She is a rich woman who married Harry for his writing talent. She respects her husband, does her best to take care of him, and wants him to recover.
One of Harry's friends in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." He appears in Harry's final dream to fly the plane that takes him to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
One of Harry and Helen's servants in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro."
The rich protagonist of "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," who hires Robert Wilson to take him and his wife on safari and then proceeds to humiliate himself by running away from a wounded lion in the brush. He is dominated by his wife Margot for most of the story and is incensed but powerless when he discovers she has slept with Wilson in retaliation for his own display of cowardice. Following a successful buffalo hunt, Macomber becomes a "fire eater," only to be gunned down by his wife.
Francis's wife from "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." She is cast as the principal antagonist of the story; she controls Macomber before he disgraces himself with the lion, humiliates him by sleeping with Wilson, and shoots him just as he displays signs of asserting himself in the relationship. It is unclear, however, whether she intended to kill him at the end.
An experienced British "white hunter" who "kills anything." He is hired by Francis Macomber to take him and Margot on safari in "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." He is initially contemptuous of Macomber and attracted to his wife, but he watches Macomber's "coming of age" during the buffalo hunt and is all for it. He accuses Margot of deliberately shooting to kill her husband, but it is unclear if he is truly convinced she is a murderess or if he is just trying to goad her.
The Middle-Aged Waiter
The protagonist of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"; Hemingway uses him to express most of the story's philosophical structure. The waiter is depressed by a feeling of existential angst and ultimately nihilism; he has lost faith in the things that give his younger colleague’s life meaning and he has only the advancing age and impending death of his café’s most loyal patron, the old man, to look forward to.
The Young Waiter
One of the middle-aged waiter's foils in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," likely intended as an allegorical representation of Youth, or the Young Man. The young waiter believes unthinkingly in the material world: money, his fellow human beings, and himself. He has not succumbed to the type of nihilistic despair that has overtaken his colleague.
The Old Man
The middle-aged waiter's other foil in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," likely intended as an allegorical representation of Old Age, or the Elderly Man. The old man has apparently lost faith in life itself and has attempted suicide at least once. Whether this despair is due to existential concerns or mere loneliness is up to the reader's interpretation.
The protagonist of "The Capital of the World," a young country boy who is working as a waiter at the Pension Luarca and who has dreams of becoming a torero. He dies young but clinging to his illusions.
The boy who washes the dishes at the Luarca and is three years older than Paco, the protagonist of "The Capital of the World." He has already proven himself unfit to be a bullfighter and constructs the dangerous fake bull that kills Paco during their bullfighting simulation.
The Cowardly Matador
A resident of the Luarca in "The Capital of the World" who was badly gored and who is consequently hesitant in the ring. He puts on a show of being hearty and carefree to mask his insecurities.
The Gray-Haired Picador
A hawk-faced resident of the Luarca in "The Capital of the World" who is confident in himself and his professional abilities and who stares insolently at all and sundry. He has little respect for others.
A waiter at the Luarca and a devotee of the Anarcho-Syndicalist cause in "The Capital of the World." He believes in solidarity of the workers and in reforming Spain to exclude priests and bulls.
The Second Waiter
An employee of the Luarca who acts as a sounding board for Ignacio in "The Capital of the World," countering his colleague's revolutionary language by stating he is content with his job and his country.
The protagonist of "Hills Like White Elephants," the girl who is waiting with the American for the train to Madrid. She fears her pregnancy has irrevocably changed her relationship with the American and is wary about having the abortion, and she fences verbally with him about it, signaling a tug-of-war between the two in which she holds some of the cards but is well aware that her adversary holds the rest.
The implied father of Jig’s child in "Hills Like White Elephants" who is waiting with her for the train to Madrid. He is pestering her to have the abortion and betrays his anxiety in myriad ways but gives lip service to the fact he still loves her and will love her even if she does not have it. He is aware that he holds over her the ability to end their relationship or to make it emotionally hostile for her, but he is also aware that he is very much on the hook if she decides to forgo the abortion.
Hemingway's semi-autobiographical protagonist, who appears in a number of short stories.
In "The Killers," Nick is present at the diner when two hit men come for Ole Andreson and is the one who chooses to put himself at risk by going to Hirsch’s boarding house to warn Andreson. He becomes so depressed by Andreson’s plight and willingness to accept his fate that he resolves to leave town at the end of the story.
In "In Another Country," Nick (though unnamed as the narrator, Nick is generally accepted as such) has been decorated by the Italian government for being wounded on the Italian front during World War I, and is recuperating at a hospital in Milan along with a number of wounded Italian officers.
In "A Day's Wait," Nick (though again unnamed as the narrator, Nick is generally accepted as such) is a father who first tends to his sick 9-year-old son Schatz but then leaves the house for a hunting trip. He returns to find that Schatz is unaware of the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius thermometers and thus has been waiting to die all day.
In "Fathers and Sons," Nick is a 38-year-old writer who, in the midst of a road trip with his son, remembers his childhood and adolescent interactions with his father and with a pair of Native Americans who lived close to his family's cottage in Michigan.
The proprietor or manager of Henry’s lunch-room in "The Killers" who handles the killers and the hostage situation they create in the diner as best he can. He urges Nick to warn Andreson after the killers have left, and tells Nick not to think about Andreson’s probable fate at the end of the story.
One of "The Killers"; as he and Max wait for Andreson, he takes Nick and Sam into the kitchen, ties them up and waits by the wicket with a sawed-off shotgun. He seems to take orders from Max, though he expresses irritation with the fact that Max tells George, Nick, and Sam so much about their mission in Summit.
One of "The Killers." As he and Al wait for Andreson, he remains seated at the counter watching George. He seems to be in charge of Al, though he takes Al’s rebukes about his loose tongue with a decent grace.
A former heavyweight boxer from Chicago with a murky past who appears in "The Killers." He puts up at Hirsch’s rooming-house and is not surprised when Nick warns him that two strangers have come to town looking to kill him. In fact, he seems quite depressed and resigned to his fate. Nick and George figure he double-crossed someone in Chicago and that’s why he has a price on his head.
The cook at Henry's lunch-room who warns Nick not to warn Andreson, to just stay out of the whole affair.
The caretaker of Hirsch’s rooming-house in "The Killers" who looks after the place for Mrs. Hirsch. She thinks Andreson a nice man and, oblivious to the danger to his life, she encourages him to get out and about in the fresh air, to no avail.
One of Nick’s friends "In Another Country" who was a great fencer before the war but now has a withered hand. He uses the physical therapy machines next to Nick though he lacks confidence in them, and is having difficulty coping with the death of his wife.
The Would-Be Lawyer
One of Nick’s cadre of Italian friends "In Another Country" at the hospital who received three medals for bravery and is admired accordingly.
The Would-Be Painter
Another of Nick’s cadre of friends "In Another Country" who received one medal for bravery and wished to be a painter before the war.
Another of Nick's friends "In Another Country" who received one medal for bravery and had always planned to be a soldier.
The Boy with the Black Silk Bandage
Another of Nick's friends "In Another Country" whose face has to be rebuilt following an injury sustained during the war. Nick feels closest to him because he didn't get a chance to prove his bravery either before he was invalided out of the war.
The 9-year-old protagonist of "A Day's Wait," Nick Adams's son. He is diagnosed with influenza and told he has a fever of 102. He erroneously believes he is doomed to die and controls his emotions during his solitary day’s wait, attempting to make his impending death easier on his father and the other members of the household.
Schatz (though he is not named as such) also appears as Nick's not-yet-12-year-old son in "Fathers and Sons." In this story, he is curious about his grandfather, about hunting, and about Native Americans, all things that Nick is deep in the midst of remembering as Schatz asks his father about them.
Nick's father in "Fathers and Sons" who, it is revealed during the story, was a cruel, abused, betrayed, sentimental and hard man who has recently committed suicide via a gunshot to the head. Dr. Adams had a largely abusive relationship with his son, who fantasized about killing his father at times during his childhood and escaped his father’s eagle eyes in the hemlock woods near the Indian camp. Adams’s only positive contribution to his son’s development is the knowledge of shooting and fishing, which become Nick’s lifelong passions.
The Old Man at the Bridge
The protagonist of "Old Man at the Bridge." A 76-year-old refugee from San Carlos who left behind a menagerie because there was too much artillery fire. He is sitting by the side of a pontoon bridge over the Ebro River and is too tired to get up even though enemy troops are approaching and will surely kill him. He is resigned to his fate, and his plight moves the narrator of the story.
The Narrator of "Old Man at the Bridge"
Hemingway, in this case, as the story is actually a dispatch from the front during the Spanish Civil War. In the story, the narrator is preoccupied with the advancing enemy troops and though he suggests to the old man that he get up and make for a group of trucks bound for Barcelona, he takes no action to help the old man, instead concluding that he is just unlucky and will probably be killed shortly.
The commanding officer of a snowbound outpost of the Italian army in "A Simple Enquiry." He commands an adjutant, Tonani, who does his paperwork for him, and is also in charge of an orderly, Pinin, whom he seems to sexually proposition.
The major’s adjutant in "A Simple Enquiry" who is left doing paperwork when the major takes his nap. He is aware of what passes between the major and Pinin.
The major’s orderly in "A Simple Enquiry," a young soldier of 19 who seems to be propositioned by the major and returns a negative response. He could be lying, however, as the major realizes as he contemplates how his “simple enquiry” was received.
The protagonist of "Up in Michigan," a girl who works in the kitchen at D.J. Smith’s. She is obsessed with Jim Gilmore, the town blacksmith, and loses her virginity to him on the dock one chilly fall evening in a fashion that disillusions her about love.
The blacksmith of Horton's Bay in "Up in Michigan" who takes his meals at D.J. Smith’s. After returning from a deer hunting trip and getting drunk, he has sex with and arguably rapes Liz Coates, a girl who works at Smith’s and who he doesn’t think about except to admire how neat her hair is.
The proprietor of D.J. Smith’s boarding-house in "Up in Michigan" where Jim takes his meals and Liz works in the kitchen. He accompanies Jim and Charley Wyman on their deer-hunting trip.
The wife of the proprietor of D.J. Smith's boarding-house in "Up in Michigan." She supervises Liz's work in the kitchen.
A man from Charlevoix in "Up in Michigan" who goes hunting with D.J. Smith and Jim and stays to dinner at the Smith's when the men return from their hunting trip.
Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The lingering question occurs to the reader as the story closes and the narrator bemoans the old man’s impending death. Why doesn’t the narrator help the old man at least part of the way to the trucks bound for Barcelona? Surely everyone,...