Lesson Plan: Indian Camp By Ernest Hemingway

Level: intermediate-advanced

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Copy of short story Indian Camp  biography of Ernest Hemingway,  and Components for Literary Analysis.

Objectives: Students will achieve a better understanding of the short story “Indian Camp” by Ernest Hemingway through learning literary devices and terms (e.g., imagery, symbolism, protagonist, antagonist, setting)  used for analyzing stories. They will also learn how to  analyze the relationship between characters, and events in the story using these literary devices.

Reading Strategies: Students will make predictions based on the title; draw conclusions and make generalizations about what they have read by utilizing background knowledge, looking for the main ideas, making notes, highlighting or underlining specific information, and by answering questions. They will learn new vocabulary through inference, highlighting unknown words, using the dictionary, and graphic organizer for assistance.


I. Pre-Reading Activities

Background information for students

Directions: Review these  points  prior to reading to help students make connections to the story:

“Many of Hemingway’s stories feature the semi-autobiographical character Nick Adams, a child in this story. A few months prior to writing Indian Camp, Hemingway’s wife Hadley was pregnant.  She went into labor while traveling. It isn’t clear whether Hemingway was with her during the actual birth. Biographer Kenneth Lynn states, “Hemingway likely was terrified Hadley would not survive the birth, and he became “beside himself with fear … about the extent of her suffering and swamped by a sense of helplessness at the realization that he would probably arrive too late to be of assistance to her.” Lynn believes that this experience with his wife was the inspiration for Indian Camp.” 

Source: Ernest Hemingway: Wikipedia

Directions: Review the following terms from the handout Components for Literary Analysis with students. These are excerpts that pertain to questions in this lesson plan for Indian Camp. To see the complete Analysis visit the page.

This is an excellent review of components for analyzing pieces of literature. The terms are handy for helping students understand  literary pieces.  Depending on the  level of your students, you can decide how much you would like them to analyze the stories and poems they read.

Novel, Short Story, or Play

Themes – often explore ideas that are both cross-cultural and deeply rooted in the human condition [e.g., loneliness, coming of age, love, friendship, betrayal].

Character – representation of a person, place, or thing performing traditionally human activities or functions in a work of fiction

• Protagonist – The character the story revolves around.

• Antagonist – A character or force that opposes the protagonist.

• Static character – A character that remains the same.

• Dynamic character – A character that changes in some important way.

• Characterization – The choices an author makes to reveal a character’s personality, such as appearance, actions, dialogue, and motivations.

Point of View – pertains to who tells the story and how it is told. The point of view of a story can sometimes indirectly establish the author’s intentions.

• Narrator – The person telling the story who may or may not be a character in the story.

• First-person – Narrator participates in action but sometimes has limited knowledge/vision.

Setting – the place or location of the action.  The setting provides the historical and cultural context for characters. It often can symbolize the emotional state of characters.

Source: Roane State Community College


Prediction of Story Outcome Chart

Directions: Students may use this reading chart by Pace High School as a pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading tool to aid their comprehension of the events in the story.

Pace High School- Prediction Outcomes Chart


Character Recognition Chart

Directions: Students may use this chart by Pace High School as a pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading tool to aid their comprehension of the characters in the story.

Pace High School- Character Prediction Chart


 II. While reading Activites

 Vocabulary In Context 

Directions: Place students in groups so that they can help each other with the following activities.

Have students review the following sentences taken from the story and infer  the meanings of  the words in bold font. Highlight any other unknown words. They can use the Vocabulary graph by Learnnc.org as a guide.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org


  1. At the lake shore there was another rowboat drawn up.
  2. Across the bay they found the other boat beached.
  3. They walked up from the beach through a meadow that was soaking wet.
  4. Ahead were the lights of the shanties where the Indian *bark-peelers lived.
  5. Inside on a wooden bunk lay a young Indian woman.
  6. What she is going through is called being in labor.
  7.  *No. I haven’t any anÊsthetic, (anesthetic).
  8.  *How do you like being an interne?
  9. I’m going to sew up the incision I made.
  10.  The young Indian smiled reminiscently.

Note: The two words,  anÊsthetic, and  interne  are taken directly  from the copy of the story in PROJECT GUTENBERG. The  (surmised) versions are given in parenthesis.

Questions for Comprehension

Directions: As they read the comprehension questions, have students fill in as much information as they can on the Character Prediction and Prediction of Story Outcome charts.

  1. List  the characters as they appear in the story.
  2. Who is the protagonist in this story?
  3. Who was with Nick as the story opens?
  4. Who was waiting for them at the lake shore?
  5. What is the reason Nick’s father gave him for going to the camp?
  6. Where was the Indian woman?
  7. Why was she in pain?
  8. Prior to the arrival of Nick and the men, who had been helping the woman?
  9. What did the Indian men do while she was in labor?
  10. Where was the Indian woman’s husband and what was he doing?
  11. What kind of accident did her husband have?
  12. As the woman continued to scream, what did her husband do?
  13. What did the Indian woman do to uncle George?
  14. Who pulled back the blanket to check on the Indian husband?
  15. What happened to the Indian husband?
  16. What is the last question Nick asks his father about death?
  17. What does Nick think about his own death?

III. Post-Reading Questions

Directions: In groups have students answer the following questions.

  1. Who is narrating the story, and whose point of view do we see?
  2. What were two  main conflicts in the story?
  3. What are some of the themes in the story?
  4. Describe the setting and time, and show the  references in the story.
  5. Did Hemingway use any symbolism in the story?  If so, identify where.
  6. Was there any imagery in this story?  If yes, in which parts?
  7. Why do you think the Indian husband killed himself?


IV. Listening  

Title: Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway: read by Tom O’Bedlam

Directions: After students hear the story, ask which they prefer, reading the story, or listening to the story. Why or why not?

Writing Assignment

  1. Have students choose two or three  characters and write a short description for each.
  2.  Have students write a different ending for the story.


ANSWER KEY: Indian Camp.