Ernest Hemingway uses several symbolic elements in Ernest Hemingway in his short story “The Killers” which are connected to the story’s characters and themes. Symbols help the author subtly create a complex reality within a minimalistic, understated setting.

The coats and gloves (ll. 23-25) that Max and Al wear are used as symbols to foreshadow the fact that they are killers. This is further emphasised by the black colour of their coats, as black is often associated with evil and death.

The clock that shows the wrong time (l. 15) is another symbol in the story. The fact that George does not set it to the correct time suggests apathy or indifference. The clock is a symbol for George’s detached approach to life, which is also reflected in the advice he gives Nick about Andreson’s murder: “ ‘Well," said George, "you better not think about it.’” (l. 294)

The clock is also a symbol of the sense of confusion that runs throughout the story, as the time is referenced repeatedly, but inco...

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