Skip to main content

Ernest Hemingway Short Stories

Ernest Hemingway is well known both for his novels and short stories.

What Is Hemingway's Most Famous Short Story?

There are a few candidates for his most famous story:

  • "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"
  • "Hills Like White Elephants"
  • "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"
  • "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

These seem to be Hemingway's most widely read and frequently anthologized short stories.

If you're looking for a collection, all of Hemingway's stories are gathered in The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway.

All these stories, as well as many more, are listed below with a brief teaser. I hope you find a great story here.


"After the Storm"

A man gets in a fight and gets choked. He manages to pull a knife and cut his attacker's arm. He leaves quickly and decides to lie low for a while. He takes his boat out to Southwest Key. There was a storm just before he pulled out. The damage is obvious, and he sees some wreckage. He decides to look into it.

"An Alpine Idyll"

John and Nick are headed back to the inn in the valley after a month of skiing. They pass a peasant's burial in the churchyard. They have beer at the inn and get their mail. They realize they skied too long. The innkeeper has a low opinion of the peasants, and he tells the story of the recent death.

"Banal Story"

A man eats oranges and sits at the stove. More interesting things are happening in other places. The man reads an intellectual magazine.

"The Battler"

Nick has torn pants and some scrapes after getting knocked off a train. He would soon have a black eye, too. It's dark and there are no landmarks in sight. He starts walking, eventually crossing a bridge. Up the track, Nick sees a fire. He moves toward it cautiously.

"Big Two-Hearted River" (Parts 1 & 2)

Nick is back in Seney, but there's not much left of it. He looks into the river. He feels something familiar as he looks at the trout. He feels good. Nick spends some time fishing at the river and camping out.

The stone was chipped and split by the fire. It was all that was left of the town of Seney. Even the surface had been burned off the ground.

— Big Two-Hearted River

"Cat in the Rain"

An American woman in Italy looks out her hotel window. She sees a cat hiding from the rain under a table. She goes outside to help it.

"A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

It's late and a café is empty except for one old man. He tried to commit suicide last week. He wants more to drink. One of the waiter's is eager to go home. He and his colleague talk about the old man.

"Cross-Country Snow"

A cable car gets stuck in the snow. Nick jumps out and skis down the slope. George is farther ahead. They get stopped by soft snow. They regroup and go again. They make their way to an inn and have a drink.

"A Day's Wait"

A nine-year-old boy is sent to bed with a fever, and a doctor is sent for. The boy's temperature is a hundred and two. The doctor leaves three medicines with instructions. The father stays with his son.

"The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife"

The doctor has hired three men from the Indian camp to cut up some logs. They're buried in the sand on the lake shore. They washed up after being lost while being towed to the mill. One of the hired men makes a comment about the logs being stolen.

"The End of Something"

Hortons Bay used to be a lumber town. Now, the mill and all the related structures are gone. Marjorie and Nick row past the site looking for rainbow trout. They find some, but they're not biting.

No one who lived in it was out of sound of the big saws in the mill by the lake. Then one year there were no more logs to make lumber.

— The End of Something

"Fathers and Sons"

While driving home after hunting, Nick thinks about his father. He had exceptional vision, and was knowledgeable when it came to shooting and fishing. Nick hasn't written about his father yet; it's too early. Nick also reminisces about two of his childhood hunting friends.

"God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen"

Two surgeons relate the interesting experience they had yesterday. A boy of 16 came to see them. He was very excited and frightened. He asked for an extreme and permanent procedure. The surgeons tried to dissuade him.

"Hills Like White Elephants"

A man and woman wait for the express train to Madrid. It's hot, so they have some beer. They seem to be trying to enjoy themselves, but there's some tension. They talk about an operation that the woman is going to have.

"Homage to Switzerland"

In three separate scenes, a different man is waiting at a train station café. He's told his train will be an hour late. He orders some coffee and strikes up a conversation with the waitress.

"In Another Country"

A group of men receive rehabilitation for war injuries at a Milan hospital. The doctor assures them they'll be as good as new. After their sessions, they walk to a café and talk about their medals and lives.

Beyond the old hospital were the new brick pavilions, and there we met every afternoon and were all very polite and interested in what was the matter, and sat in the machines that were to make so much difference.

— In Another Country

"Indian Camp"

A doctor, his brother, and his son get into rowboats. They're brought to the Indian camp, where a woman is in distress. On the other side, a young Indian guides them through the trails and up the hills. They reach a shanty. A woman has been in labor for two days.

"The Killers"

Max and Al go into a diner and order some food. They're too early for dinner, so they can't get what they want. They talk aggressively to the owner and a customer, Nick. Max and Al order Nick to get behind the counter. Then they ask about the cook in the back.

"The Light of the World"

The narrator and his friend, Tom, go into a bar and order beers. The bartender gives them a cold reception. They leave abruptly. It's an unfamiliar town. They head for the train station. There's an eclectic group of people waiting.

"The Mother of a Queen"

A boxer, Paco, gets a notice that the term on his mother's burial plot is expiring. The narrator wants to take care of it, but Paco says he'll handle it. The next week, a second notice arrives. They talk about it again, and Paco still insists he'll handle it. A third notice arrives the week after. The remains will soon be removed from the site.

"Mr. and Mrs. Elliot"

Mr. and Mrs. Elliot are trying to have a baby. Mr. Elliot is twenty-five, while Mrs. Elliot is forty. He's a poet and makes a good living. He has lived clean, keeping himself pure. He was surprised to find that women didn't really care for this.

"My Old Man"

The narrator reminisces about his father, who was a jockey. He relates an incident that occurred in Italy. His father had an argument with someone after winning a race.

"A Natural History of the Dead"

The narrator wants to provide some facts about those who die in war. They're almost always male, except for the animals. The death of mules is particularly noteworthy. The narrator also touches on the manner of death and decomposition.

Can we not hope to furnish the reader with a few rational and interesting facts about the dead? I hope so.

— A Natural History of the Dead

"Old Man at the Bridge"

An exhausted old man sits on the side of the road, near the bridge. Lots of people are crossing, as the enemy advances.

"One Reader Writes"

A woman doesn't know what to do. She writes a letter asking for advice. Her husband, a soldier, returned from China with some kind of malady that she doesn't understand.

"Out of Season"

A young couple hires a local man, Peduzzi, to take them to a fishing spot. The woman is worried about being followed by the game police. Peduzzi has been drinking.

"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"

The Macombers are in Africa on a hunting safari. They're accompanied by Wilson, a guide. They're having a drink at their base camp after an outing. Francis Macomber has bagged a lion, but something embarrassing happened during the hunt. Margot Macomber is upset.

. . . he was thirty-five years old, kept himself very fit, was good at court games, had a number of big-game fishing records, and had just shown himself, very publicly, to be a coward.

— The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

"Soldier's Home"

Krebs was in college when he enlisted in the marines and went to war. He came home late, when the excitement over returning soldiers had passed. He'd like to talk, but no one is interested. He keeps to himself, and his mother is concerned.

"The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

Harry and Helen are on safari in Africa, near Mount Kilimanjaro. Harry has suffered a leg injury and is dying of gangrene. He remembers various scenes from his life.

"The Three-Day Blow"

Nick visits Bill at his cottage. They drink and talk about some common interests. After a while, Bill brings up something that has recently happened with Nick.

"The Undefeated"

Manuel goes to see Miguel Retana at his office. He's a bullfighter looking for work. He had been in the hospital recovering from a leg injury. He's only performed once in the last year.

"A Very Short Story"

A soldier and his nurse fall in love while he's recovering from an injury. He has to return to the front. They make plans to be married in the future.

"A Way You'll Never Be"

Nick was wounded in the war and suffers from post-traumatic stress. He has recurring nightmares. One day he rides his bicycle to see his old captain. He passes battle sites along the way. Nick can envision what happened by the position of the dead and the ruins.

More Hemingway Stories