The story “The Killers” by Ernest Hemingway follows a traditional plot structure with non-linear elements, while including traditional narrative techniques like backstory, foreshadowing, and flashback, and non-traditional narrative techniques such as dramatic dialogue.

The characters include Nick Adams as the protagonist, and Al, Max, George, Sam, Ole Andreson, and Mrs Bell as secondary characters. Note that another character, Mrs Hirsch, is also mentioned in the story.

The events take place in the town of Summit, Illinois, in two locations – Henry’s lunchroom and Mrs Hirsch’s rooming-house. The social setting explores topics such as discrimination against African Americans, organised crime in 1920s America, Prohibition, and reactions to criminality.

The events are described by an third-person narrator, who describes the setting, the physical appearance of the characters and aspects of their interactions with each other.

The story is told in a minimalistic style, with plenty of symbolism that hints at the real meaning of the events. The language used by the narrator is simple; the story is told mainly through dialogue, without further explanation concerning its meaning. 

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Further help

Short story analysis

For more advice about analysing short stories, you can read our general guide to short story analysis.