Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
Essay On The Representation Of Women In Hills Like White Elephants By Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was an influential American novelist and short story writer who is well known for his consistent portrayal of women as a necessary presence but the weaker of the two genders. Throughout his short stories, Hemingway focuses on issues related to masculinity, and gender themes are central in his works. The question of how women are represented in Hemingway’s works can be explored by analyzing one of his short stories, Hills Like White Elephants. This critical essay will explore the representation of women throughout Hills Like White Elephants and determine why Hemingway decides to present women in this short story as pitied rather than respected. Hills Like White Elephants is a conversation between an American man and a girl waiting for a train in Spain.
As the story unwinds, the Iceberg technique displayed in the story shows the couple discussing the girl’s pregnancy. The man is coolly working to convince her to have an abortion. Throughout this work, the American presents Hemingway’s rigid concept of masculinity; The American is portrayed as omniscient and wise. He is worldly and in control of himself as well as the situation. He is presented as a cool man who feigns indifference. His insensitivity is evident when he tells the girl that he doesn’t care or not the girl has an abortion. He oversimplifies the operation as just a simple medical procedure to convince the girl to abort. He is relentless and aloof, never actually engaging with her but trying to blind her with simplistic logic. The American lacks sympathy and understanding of her needs and ignores her behavior. It displays how the girl is, in contrast, less assertive. She is perceived as helpless and confused, as well as nameless; though the man is referred to as The American, he at least has a nationality and a maturity, while ‘the girl’ is young, vulnerable and without any other outstanding characteristics.
During the time of this work, the liberated post-war American society is one of which is highlighted. The stereotyping of masculinity seeking solutions to the problems caused by women in his stories illustrates his patriarchal attitudes. Hemingway displays women as so unintelligent as to be malleable; in this story, The American decides he has to oversimplify the “painless” abortion in order to get rid of this obstacle to his continuing life as he wants it. The dehumanization of women in this short story is abundant, and the themes of discrimination and patriarchal values are smeared throughout the work. Hemingway presents women in this story as objects trying to attract attention and please others to strengthen the idea of the Code Hero. Hemingway defined a Code Hero as “a man who lives correctly, following the ideals of honor, courage, and endurance in a world that is sometimes chaotic, often stressful, and always painful.” He is an ideal man with courage, knowledge, chivalry and an individualist attitude who enjoys many drinks and women. The presentation of women in his works amplifies the patriarchal image of the Code Hero. The Code Heroes remove any possible strengths of women surrounding them and become a man with defined codes.
By including passive and child-like women in his story, Hemingway further asserts the role of the Code Hero. In Hills Like White Elephants, the man has total power over the relationship. One example of when this is shown is when, between the two of them, the American is the only one who can speak Spanish. Because of this, Jig has to rely on him continually and even clears with him which drinks they will order before doing so. This displays the dominance of the man as the Code Hero and the submissive, dependent woman in the relationship. Furthermore, the audience is introduced to Jig as the name the American calls the girl. She is a girl who cannot make decisions easily without constant approval and recognition from a man. This particular man from whom Jig seeks approval is one who has impregnated her. Jig is a woman who cannot make decisions on her own which is shown throughout the story. She is depicted as dependent, weak and without independent thoughts or feelings throughout the story. Jig asks, “What should we drink?” in the opening line of the story. Just from this opening question, the audience gets the impression that Jig is a character who questions rather than acts. This shows that she is a person who is unsure of herself and also unaware of what she wishes in the relationship.
Although this is a simple question to ask and can often appear as common politeness, this is the time in the short story where the audience meets Jig. Also in the opening scene, she imagines white elephants in the surrounding hills. These white elephants symbolize an unwanted gift, and to Jig, the baby represents the gift. It is unwanted in the eyes of the man, which in turn causes Jig’s unhappiness and desire for an “imaginary life.” Many other examples demonstrate her inability to make life decisions. Further on in the short story, Jig questions her life’s purpose by saying, “That’s all what we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new things?’ She believes her life is empty and she is unsure of her ability to create her own purpose. Jig seems to have exhausted her relationship with the man and craves change in her life. Hemingway presents women as feminine objects regarded by men as passive and insipid tools in Hills Like White Elephants.
As a central though unspoken theme in this story, women are portrayed as helpless and unstable. The weakness of women is contrasted with the power and clear-thinking male characters. The contrasting gender roles represent how men are the pivotal characters in this short story and women hold only roles that support the thesis of the Code Heroes. The prominence of unstable female characters highlights the importance of the male characters. The contrasting differences in the gender roles represent how men hold the central significance in Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants and display how women are suppressing roles which add to the ambience of the Code Heroes.
Crucial Themes In War Medals for Sale
What ideas and themes in this story can you find in the article “War Medals for Sale” that Hemingway wrote for the Toronto Star? How do both pieces express Hemingway’s attitudes towards bravery and valor in war and life?
In Hemingway’s “War Medals for Sale” as well as “In Another Country”, both pieces expresses Hemingway’s attitudes towards bravery and valor in war and life as something only valued on the war front, and cast off in society. In both works, Hemingway discusses the idea of isolation, where all soldiers are essentially isolated from their surroundings, and the people they know. For example, in “War Medals for Sale”, every storeowner rejected the idea of buying a war medal, simply because they have no monetary value to them. Veterans are essentially isolated because their awards of valor are essentially thrown to their faces and told that they have no worth.
In Hemingway’s short story, “In Another Country”, the injured soldiers were separated from societies, having been placed in rehabilitation centers that accentuate their wounds. The soldiers are wished death upon, and are in complete desolation. Another theme discussed, is a loss of identity. In “War Medals for Sale”, the reporter allegedly wanted to buy medals, and a store clerk suggested that he remove the original name, “’Don’t worry about those names, Mister,’ the woman urged.” She had implying that the reporter can take off the original names and put his own on them. This represents a loss of identity because the original soldiers who fought and won those medals are being stripped of their valorous deeds. In addition, “In Another Country” some of the soldiers had experienced a previous loss of identity because they had lost the features that had mattered to them most, for example, the soldier who had lost his nose, lost access to his birthright, since he could never repair his kingly feature. Hemingway ultimately describes the aftermath of war as something regularly cast off into the pits of society, as he discusses the themes of isolation and loss of identity. These two themes are essential in understanding the transition of war heroes into the cast offs of society.
Hemingway once said “I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it under water for every part that shows.” Choose a passage in this story and analyze its style taking into consideration the kinds of words used, structure and length of sentences and the extent to which Hemingway relies on dialogue and description rather than explicit interpretation and the techniques of journalism to express his themes. Tell what is accomplished by his spare and severe style.
Hemingway expresses the theme of irony in his work, “In Another Country” as he conveys the conversation between the doctor and the major, whose hand was withered from injury. In the scene, the doctor is telling two soldiers that their body parts will be healed in no time. But he is obviously telling them a lie, as he says one soldier would be “’able to play football again better than ever.’” The major then intercedes by saying “’And will I too, play football, captain-doctor?’” This is essentially ironic because the major, whose hand was injured, was Italy’s best fencer. By underlying this theme of irony, the situations for each of the soldiers are depicted as very desolate because they know that they will never be the same, even with the treatment. Through this ironic conversation between major and doctor, Hemingway clearly captures the hopelessness faced by soldiers after returning from war. They have nowhere to turn to, neither do they have any means of returning to the original life they had in the past. Through his spare and severe style, the readers learn to deeply analyze written works to truly discover what really lays hidden in between the words.
Analysis of the Subject Matter Highlighted in Kate Chopin’s the Story of an Hour Vs. Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants
In turn-of-the-century literature, many short stories focus on themes that encompass human nature and society. Two of America’s most prominent turn-of-the-century writers, Kate Chopin and Ernest Hemingway are no exceptions to this rule. Both writers use awe-inspiring symbolism to explain the faults in human nature strategically to emphasize their writing and evoke emotions in the reader. In both “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, the authors make statements about the weaknesses of human nature in the way that the loss of life is handled.
In the short story “The Story of an Hour” written by Kate Chopin, the main character, Ms. Mallard, has received news that she is both ailing of heart disease and that her husband has died in a train accident. In order to prevent Ms. Mallard from becoming overexerted, the news of her husband’s death is leaked to her very gently, although there is not really a gentle way to break the news of your loved one’s death. After Ms. Mallard is informed of the death, she locks herself in a room and begins the process of mourning her lost lover. At this point in the story, Chopin gives an extremely gritty look into the process of how Ms. Mallard mourns the loss of her husband in the line where she writes, “Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.” Anyone that has lost someone they really cared about would relate to this line on an emotional level. Moreover, after Ms. Mallard has some time to digest the news, she has a new sense of freedom perpetuate throughout her body. Chopin relates this feeling as, “this thing that was approaching to possess her”. As Ms. Mallard begins to ponder her newfound freedom away from her husband, she realizes what her life will be like and how she will be unrestricted to do what she pleases. After some time, Ms. Mallard comes out of her room and sees that her husband has not died and is very much alive. Ms. Mallard then dies from a heart attack brought on by happiness. This is clearly a weakness in human nature in that Ms. Mallard was just grieving the loss other husband and is revitalized into a new woman, yet when her husband comes back and is not dead, she goes on to die of happiness that he is back, even when she was just moved on from his death.
Furthermore, in Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, the story is placed in Spain where a conversation is taking place between an American man and a girl Hemingway calls “Jig”. Initially, the two begin to banter about Jig thinking that the hills resemble white elephants, then they begin to talk more deeply about an operation. As the storyline goes on, it is not hard to realize that the American and Jig were discussing having an abortion, although it is not explicitly stated in the story. This is shown in the lines where Hemingway writes, “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,” and “I think it’s the best thing to do.” Throughout these lines, Jig is reluctant to respond and is obviously hesitant to proceed with the operation. “Hills Like White Elephants” shows the fault in loss in that in the final line Jig says, “There is nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.” Evidently not long ago Jig was extremely reluctant to give into the American’s pressuring into the abortion; however, now she is saying that she feels okay just to get the idea of the operation off of her and the American’s mind.
Unmistakably, both “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway address the issues of the loss of life in weaknesses of human nature and society. Through turn-of-the-century writing, there’s often thematic elements like the loss of life of Brently Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” and the potential loss of Jig’s unborn child in “Hills Like White Elephants”. These two stories in particular to a wonderful job of pointing out the weaknesses that humans present when the loss of someone who is precious is lost.
The Theme of Returning Home from War in Short Stories of Hemingway and O’brien
Sometimes the hardest part of going to war is coming home. In the two short stories, “Soldiers Home” by Ernest Hemingway and “Speaking of Courage” by Tim O’Brien, each of the characters Krebs and Berlin show the difficulties it has on a soldier returning home from war. Both characters illustrate how hard it can be to adjust to a normal lifestyle compared to the life that they had overseas or the one that they had before they left for war. However, each story differs when looking at how they deal with the aftereffects and who they confide in about the difficulties of war. In a “Soldier’s Home” when Krebs returns home he has this need to talk to someone but doesn’t know how to approach people about it. Whereas in “Speaking of Courage” Berlin has the choice to speak of the difficulties and hardships of war honestly, but he chooses not to because he doesn’t want to bother anyone. Each of the characters exhibit forms of PTSD and how the war put many hardships in their lives when they returned home. Although, the stories have many differences they also share many similarities about the effects of war.
In a “Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemingway before Krebs became a soldier he had a pretty normal life, he was in a fraternity where all the men involved wore the same kind of shirt in the same style. With this, it showed that he had friends who accepted him and a healthy social life. When Krebs was away in war it is discussed that the fellows soldiers “look too big for their uniforms”. The idea of “outgrowing” a uniform is a pattern that we consecutively see throughout the short story. Krebs eventually hypothetically speaking outgrew his uniform in the fraternity when he went away to war. Where we see this pattern again is when Krebs is away in war and he eventually begins to outgrow his uniform and returns home from war. In the article “Where Do We Go From Here? by Trout, Steven he discusses how “it turned out, many former soldiers, including some of the most decorated of the war, were not up to the challenge of reentering civilian life without support, economic, or otherwise”. Krebs realized that once he did return to the civilian world that he was on his own, he wouldn’t be able to truly discuss the causality of the war and the experiences that he went through. When Krebs returned home from war this is when we began to see how he was more isolated with those around him, it shows that he was impacted by war and what he saw.
When he came home from war it was about late summer, he would sleep late in bed, he would walk to the library, eat lunch at home, he’d walk around town by himself, and then he’d spend the remainder of the night in the pool room. He spends most of his days alone with the exemptions of the times he sees his family. He also is constantly reminding himself of the things that he saw while he was at war. PTSD has the effect of returning military members to disregard their previous social lives to try and narrow the psychological effects of war. We also see this when Krebs wants to be associated with people, but he does not want to have to deal with the stress that comes with it because “here at home it was all too complicated”(Hemingway 168). After looking into articles based on how Krebs felt when returning home from war it came across the article that further discussed his need to talk about war. Krebs feelings about the war are constantly changing, in the article Soldiers’ Voices in In Our TIme: Hemingway’s Ventriloquism by Milton A. Cohen, it goes into talk about how “his compulsive need to talk to someone”. Krebs is constantly looking for someone to listen to the stories of war that he encountered, but since it was so late when he returned home everyone thought they had heard it all.
As the story continues we see a change in the way that Krebs talks to his sister compared to how he talks to his mother. Krebs has a new view on the world after being in the war for so long he has a hard time adjusting to his life back home and has a hard time controlling what he says because he has a fear of losing those he loves. At the time these scenes take place it is painful to hear how hurt he is to the point he has to tell his own mother that he doesn’t love her. In the article Performative Patterns in Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” by Ruben De Baerdemaeker it goes into discuss how “Krebs disavows being in God’s Kingdom, and emotionally distances himself from his mother and the world she represents”. When Krebs tells his mother that he does not love her, he quickly realizes that what he said was an accident. Krebs knew that what he has said was wrong, and after saying this, he tries to give reasons for himself but could not seem to come up with an exact answer. He then tries to say that what he said was a mistake and that it came out the wrong way. He couldn’t explain that he didn’t want to lose her, so he was trying to express himself to seek to keep her away from his life because he feels he is damaged. Psychologically Krebs has been changed because of the war, and he tries to get used to his social surroundings, which is now different and complicated to him.
We also see these similarities in “Speaking of Courage” where the main character Norman Bowker has a hard time adjusting to a normal life after returning home from the war too. We can see this when he “followed the tar road on its seven-mile loop around the lake, then he started all over again, driving slowly” (Tim O’Brien). Norman realizes that he has nowhere to go at this point and turns to driving and reminiscing about his days before war. Bowker wants to talk to someone about what happened to him at war, but he has no one to talk to about anything. He also thinks about conversations that he would have with people about what happened, about the medals that he got awarded to him, but he also wanted to tell those the he was a coward, that he wasn’t brave. In the article Tim O’Brien and the Art of the True War Story by Timmerman, John H. goes into detail about how if people would have listened to Bowker “people would have heard, if only they had listened, was Norman Bowker’s story of he had courage, of how he almost saved his friend Kiowa, except for the terrible sink in the field. His father was the appropriate one to initiate the hearing, for his father also knew the truth of war”. Norman has a hard time accepting what happened to him, about all the changes in the town that happened to him. He can’t accept the fact that what happened to his friend was purely an accident and that if he would have stayed he would have been gone too, that he deserved all of the medals that he received in war.
Bowker is clearly in a state of stress that is causing to constantly revisit the incident that happened with his friend, this is otherwise known as PTSD. There was a study produced, published online Sept. 17 in JAMA Psychiatry, that conducted the theory that PTSD can cause listlessness and emotional detachment. Which we see in both of the characters in the two short stories. Krebs and Bowker each have a difficult time adjusting to life outside of war; they have a hard time adjusting to the lifestyle that they knew before which results in them wanting to be alone a lot of the time. Although these characters have a lot of similarities, they also have differences such as the type of war they fought in and how they can talk about it and who they have to talk about it when they return home.
The differences of these two short stories were when they soldiers returned home and how the circumstances where. When Krebs returned home from war, it wasn’t right for him to talk about the war and his experiences. He returned home from war so late compared to the other soldiers they thought they had heard everything that had happened and they thought it was weird that Krebs was returning so late after the war was over. Krebs eventually started lying about his experiences to get the attention of those around him, but this resulted in becoming sick whenever he told a lie. In an article posted by the Perelman School of Medicine, it is said that one of the most common side effects of PTSD is changes in mood and cognition, where the person affected by this has exaggerated negative beliefs, and self blame for the traumatic event, detachment from others loss of interest persistent negative emotional state, reduced ability to feel positives emotions.
Krebs has a hard accepting what has changed and his inability to find satisfaction in what is around him, especially women whom he finds necessary to get close to because it is far too complicated. As much as Krebs believes in the truth, people around him force him to lie. The story precisely manifests the conflict between Krebs value, which has dramatically changed after his war experience and society expectation toward him to conform to its traditional values. Eventually to maintain his existence Krebs has to choose isolation by detaching himself from social relations, love, religion and ambition. Harold Krebs returned from the war with an inability to love and determined to avoid complications which include lying. But his life is getting complicated already, when he was welcomed by the society people to be listened to at all he had to lie. As the story goes Krebs has to lie again while trying to be attached to his family. Krebs still has some relationship with his family as he is still in touch with his sister, but otherwise he has distanced himself from almost anyone and anything around him. Whereas Bowker has a hard time adjusting to his new lifestyle and talking to those around him, he has started losing those relationships that he once had because he has a hard time adjusting to his new life.
Norman Bowker wanted to have conversations with people, but instead of talking he had imaginary conversations with people because he doesn’t know how to actually have them. Bowker had these conversations with people because he doesn’t know how to actually have them. He is afraid of what people might say and do because now that he has returned home from war his life is diverse. He feels as though all the people he wants to have these conversations with are wrapped up in their own lives, and he feels that his issues aren’t important enough to bother them or that they wouldn’t understand them. He has this whole imaginary conversations with his father, whose approval is significant to him, he thinks about how they’d talk about all the medals that he had received in the war. He thinks about how he believes his father would celebrate how courageous and brave that he was in the war, although he feels he was not he thinks of himself as a coward because he “almost” won the silver star for valor. He has repeatedly thought about this conversation that h would have because he has thought about how his father would react and what he would say to him.
The Elements of Despair in a Clean, Well-lighted Place, a Short Story by Ernest Hemingway
The feeling of depression and loneliness is a universal emotion among many people. In “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway, Hemingway tells a short story about an old man who stays late at cafes as a way to cope with depression. To do this, Hemingway effectively uses short phrases dialogue between the waiters, a well-lighted setting, and religious references to emphasize the struggle of dealing with loneliness and despair.
As the old man drinks alone at night in a cafe, the reader learns about the old man who lives alone with a niece and has tried to commit suicide through the dialogue between the older and younger waiter. Through the exchange, the more former waiter, like the old man, likes to stay late at the cafe and understands on a more profound scale to why they are hesitant to go home at night. However, the younger waiter, being insensitive and rude, cannot see anything past himself and is eager to close up and return home to his “ wife waiting in bed.” The younger waiter eagerly wants to go home to his wife and insults the old man, who is deaf, saying “You should have killed yourself last week.” The older waiter defends the old man against the younger waiter’s criticisms by pointing out that “This old man is clean… He drinks without spilling.” As the younger waiter tries to leave, Hemingway gives the older waiter the line of “You have youth, confidence, and a job… You have everything” to say to the younger waiter to reveal the difference between the older waiter (along with the old man) and the younger waiter. The younger waiter has reason to live (his wife) and his whole life ahead of him when the older waiter says “He has everything.” The younger waiter, cannot understand how lucky he is nor understands the older waiter and old man who are lonely and searching meaning to live. As the waiters conversate, the reason behind the old man’s and older waiter’s reluctance to go home becomes more coherent that they both lonely and suffer from the feelings of nothingness— an angst about their place in the universe and the uncertainty about the meaning of life.
Also, Hemingway’s use of the well-lighted setting provides the old man and the older waiter as a place to deal with their despair. The older waiter provides the detail that “this is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good.” The cafe itself represents the opposite of the theme (loneliness and depression) because of it’s cleanliness and good lighting which symbolizes order and peace. The cafe serves as a common place for many people to take refuge from despair which makes the older waiter reluctant to close up since “there may be someone who needs the cafe.” When the older waiter says “With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night,” the cafe can be symbolized like a night light which provides a sense of safety for children during the night and takes them to see the next day. Later into the story, the older waiter describes the nothingness that is life saying: “It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order.” The “it” in the sentence assumes that although life has no meaning, light, cleanliness, and order can keep despair in check. That’s why, as long as the cafe remains open late at night, people can take refuge from the darkness of despair.
Furthermore, Hemingway uses religious references to strengthen the theme of the feeling of nothingness that leads to depression and loneliness. Hemingway substitutes the Spanish word “nada” (nothing) into the prayers he recites to imply that religion, which helps people find meaning and purpose, is nothingness. Rather than saying the actual prayer, “Our Father who art in heaven,” the older waiter says, “Our nada who art in nada” which takes out both God and the idea of heaven. He, which the reader can assume that he does not believe in religion, mocks religion with prayers filled with the word “nada” to show that religion is not a viable solution to dealing with despair compared to the well-lighted cafe. Seemingly, religion is the way to find meaning to live but proves to be ineffective for the older waiter and the old man.
All in all, Hemingway’s “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” consist of short phrases dialogue, a well-lighted setting, and religious references to emphasize the struggle of dealing with loneliness and despair. The feeling of nothingness is a common emotion of when people lose sight of meaning in their lives and their place in the universe. The clean well-lighted cafe acts as a refuge for people like the old man and the older waiter who are dealing with these feelings. “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” can be perceived as a story about a place that makes people cope with their despair.
The Significance on What is Left Unsaid in Hills Like White Elephants, a Short Story by Ernest Hemingway
The great American author Ernest Hemingway is well-known for his unique style, which places the greatest significance on what is left unsaid. Among his works, and in his typical fashion, is the short story “Hills Like White Elephants.” This narrative focuses on a couple travelling in Western Europe and the unspoken problem that is straining their relationship. Although not specifically stated, the dialogue suggests that the girl is pregnant and considering terminating the pregnancy. While the girl remains uncertain of what to do, the man accompanying her is steadfast that she should have “the procedure.” In Hemingway’s story, “Hills like White Elephants,” an uncomfortable atmosphere, choppy dialogue, and the sharp contrast between the central characters’ desires creates tension as the girl struggles to make a difficult decision regarding the future of her relationship and her unborn child.
From the beginning, Hemingway creates an uncomfortable atmosphere to suggest to readers that there is already friction between the girl and the man. The story is set in an unfamiliar place, both for readers and for the characters. The man is identified as an American travelling in Spain. Although readers are not told where the girl is from, it is clear that she is not from Spain, as the man must translate to the woman who is serving them. Within the first moments, both characters are drinking alcohol. Not only are they drinking, but the girl asks, “Big ones?” and the man agrees. The presence of alcohol and the staccato quality of their initial dialogue contributes to the uncomfortable atmosphere of the story early on. As the story continues, the two order additional drinks in what seems like a very short time. They order “Anis del Toro,” and another round of beers, which helps to establish the edginess that both characters have in anticipation of their conversation. When not used in reference to social drinking, alcohol generally suggests uneasiness, acting as a buffer for difficult conversations. In this story, the alcohol leads into their discussion of whether or not the girl should have an abortion.
In addition to the tension created by the uncomfortable atmosphere, Hemingway also uses dialogue to build tension between the two characters. The longest sentence on the first page is only five words up until the man snaps, “Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything,” in response to her comment about seeing white elephants (475). This first sentence of considerable length reveals some of the tension already building between the two. While discussing their Anis del Toros, the girl makes a simple joke and the man appears short with her. She responds, “You started it…I was being amused. I was having a fine time.” He then says, “Well let’s try and have a fine time” (476). This text suggests that they were having to work at acting normal and appearing “fine.” At this point, they are still concealing their true emotions and the reason for their discomfort. The word “fine” appears again at the very end of the story when the girl appears to have lost the argument and the man asks if she feels better. The girl responds shortly with, “I feel fine. There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine” (478). Although she claims to be “fine,” her repetition of the phrase and the word choice of “fine” suggest that she is anything but.
The choppy dialogue throughout the story is accompanied by a sharp contrast between the two characters and their motivating desires. While the man is quite clear about what he wants, the girl is torn between conflicting desires. In the very beginning, the girl comments that the hills “look like white elephants,” a term indicating an unwanted or troublesome possession, which in this case would be the unborn child (475). This initial statement seems odd at first, which is comparable to their peculiar relationship. However, the girl retracts her statement later on when she says, “They’re lovely hills…they don’t really look like white elephants” (476). This is the first indication of her inner struggle. The man, however, quickly assures her, “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig. It’s not really an operation at all” (476). Jig’s uncertainty continues when she asks the man if things will be like they used to be and whether or not he will still love her. Although the man says he loves her now, reassurance comes with a reason to go on with the procedure. He tells her, “That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy” (476). Even when he tries to sound supportive, he still insists it’s the best thing to do. In response to her continued uncertainty, he says, “I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to” (477). Each of these statements suggests that the man has a clear idea of what he wants. Even amongst the girl’s uncertainty, he continues to push her. Finally, not wanting to discuss it any further, the girl says, “Would you please please please please please please please stop talking” (477). The man’s continued insistence contrasted with the girl’s apparent reluctance further contributes to the tension of the story.
Like many of his greatest works, Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” places significance on what is left unsaid. Although many of the important facts in this story are not clearly stated, the dialogue provides clues into what the characters are discussing and insight into the nature of their relationship. This story is dominated by a feeling of tension, created by the elements of atmosphere, dialogue, and character. The tense atmosphere comes from the foreign environment and the large amount of alcohol. The short, indirect dialogue expresses the discomfort each of the characters feel, and the conflicting desires of the characters make an easy resolution impossible. All of these elements combine to build the tension throughout the story as the girl struggle to come to decision about whether or not she should keep the baby, and, furthermore, what to do about her relationship with the man. Although the decision is not clear, the tension remains even in the end.
The Literary Technique of Minimalism in Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville
In Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville, both pieces of literature contain a technique called minimalism, an extreme simplicity used to iterate a deeper meaning in the text. Both authors use this writing style to their advantage. Each piece centers on two characters, (so as to focus on the message the author wishes to convey). Hills Like White Elephants introduces, Jig, a childish woman who have been impregnated by her controlling lover, The American’s child, unfortunately, the couple is unmarried and this child will be born out of wedlock unless there is some way to make sure the pregnancy remains covert. “Bartleby the Scrivener” contains the static self-destructive main character Bartleby and his curious boss who resumes the position of narrator throughout the short story. Melville and Hemingway each employ minimalist techniques in their short stories; however, Hemingway uses minimalism in his description while Melville uses minimalism as a theme.
“Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville depicts Bartleby, a hardworking man who one day decides to give up. His downhill spiral is eminent,“Bartleby was one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable…” (Melville 26). The short story, written and set in 1853 follows the life and duties of this not-so-average scrivener, who would once copy the words onto the paper perfectly but now rarely accomplishes anything at all. During his slump Bartleby isolates himself from the rest of society,“[he] sat in his hermitage, oblivious to everything but his own particular business” (Melville 32). A normal person would get fired if they told their boss that they would “prefer not to” when asked to complete a task, but not Bartleby. His boss, often called The Master of Chancery, is so shocked by this response that Bartleby gains the sympathy of his employer and is offered help to get himself out of a dark situation, that he does not fundamentally take, his success or failure will be on his own terms and it is this stubborn attitude that leads him down this path of deterioration. This simplistic response, leaving room for little explanation, is so shocking, breaking down the social contract that society has set in place. The author keeps this singular phrase so brief, as a reflection of his minimalistic stylings. The story, as a whole, utilizes the setting, dialogue, and characterization to depict minimalism as a theme.
In Hills Like White Elephants, a conversation between an arguing couple with a big decision to make is narrated through a third-person point of view. Two young people with thirsting wanderlust traveling along a spanish railroad are deciding on whether or not they should choose to have this unexpected child or not. It is revealed through the narrator’s statements that the couple has had problems prior to this and likely would not have made so far without the baby, but the American, the male lead, seems to think otherwise, "That's the only thing that bothers us. It's the only thing that's made us unhappy." (Hemingway 50) he says, meaning that their problems are only circumstantial, surely not any of their own doing is responsible for the bickering. As the reader progresses through the story two settings are revealed on each side of the tracks, one side representing fertility, “the fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro”(Hemingway 37) and the other representing death and baronity, “The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white.” (Hemingway 1). After ages of bickering, they come to a compromise and choose to keep their own version of a white elephant, something that nobody wants but in this case turns out to be a precious accident. Hemingway never uses the word abortion, though that is the main argumentative topic covered in the story, he instead uses and details of the setting to communicate the weight of this decision the lack of options for the characters reflect the fact that Hemingway’s use of minimalism is in the description itself.
Hemingway’s literary techniques entail the fate of the main characters by foreshadowing the differences of each outcome using the description of the setting. While Melville has one direct path followed throughout the story until Bartleby, an unfixable lost cause, meets his ultimate demise. Melville’s minimalism, embedded within the theme of the story, is from the few simplistic words spoken by the main character himself, Bartleby. Almost everything Bartleby says is so concise that there are many different forms of interpretation, but it is ultimately what drives the curiosity for the narrator to continue on with the story. Both works contain minimalism but each author uses it in a different way to provide a structural anomaly within the text.
Analysis of Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway
Though at first glance, Hemmingway’s Death in the Afternoon appears to center around his fascination with the sport of bullfighting, and his opinions in regards to its audience as well as the actual physical contest, it can be seen that there are sprinkles of his deep thought process throughout this work. It would be apparent that the book is as much about bullfighting and the exploration of Spanish history, as it is about Hemmingway’s self-exploration. His work is as much an autobiography as it is about a book detailing his experiences in Spain, one can see that he peppers his personal opinion in this text very often, giving readers a better idea as to his personal state while learning more about his travels. To further elaborate, Hemmingway expresses several personal narratives, detailing his personal experiences and his shock with the act of bullfighting nonetheless, continuing to learn more about the event, as he was incredibly determined in ensuring that his book would properly portray this sport for his readers. One can see that Hemmingway does not hold anything back from his readers, he writes the positive and the negative of everything he sees and feels, and this in itself is a deep illustration and further insight into who Hemmingway was, not just as a writer, but as a person. To expound further, one might be fascinated by his experiences, and in the other, one might be more taken aback by his cruel and rude remarks.
One of the earliest glimpses of the writer’s self-portrait, is his critique of other writers. He even goes further as to accuse them of being sexually repressed, and that this sense of frustration affected their writing, and their writing would be easily salvaged if they were able to properly find an outlet for this carnal energy. Thus, one can see that, as previously mentioned, Hemmingway’s death in the afternoon has many themes, but one theme that can easily be ignored is his personal portrayal. In essence, he is not just a writer who reports what happens in the ring, he is a writer who expresses his true feelings through personal anecdotes as well as opinions, albeit rude at times. One must read in depth, in order to have a thorough enough understanding of what the work details, as this portrayal, though not always positive, is accurate.
Further evidence corroborating this claim can be found in chapter 1, as it seems that Hemingway’s main thread still revolves around bullfighting, however, he cannot keep himself from going off tangent, preferring to pepper his writing with personal anecdotes and making lengthy commentary on other subjects. He even mentions his first interest in bullfighting and how his fascination with such a foreign sport even came to his attention, attributing it to the influence of Gertrude Stein. Another anecdote that Hemingway expounds on would be how the cruelty in bullfighting can influence people’s perceptions of the sport, even going as far as mentioning his love for his pet cats. To sum up, one can see the subtle personal narratives Hemingway manages to sprinkle all throughout his book, though the topic still revolves around bullfighting, it is impossible to ignore the amusing personal portrayals represented in death in the afternoon.
The last point to expound on, that further confirms the aforementioned, would be when Hemmingway occasionally addresses his reader in second person-pronoun, to enhance the comfort of the reader, as this feels more like a dialogue between the audience and the author, further propelling the sentiment of intellectual exchange. In addition to his subtle grammatical shifts, he weaves the character of the old woman into the literary narrative as a vehicle to convey his own personal views and emotions regarding the sport, as her main role is to ask him questions and to seek his personal stance. This is a clever narrative device through which the author is able to integrate his own personal sentiment without betraying himself.
The Power of Performative Utterances As Portrayed by Ernest Hemingway In Our Time
Words are important. But, as is commonly said, ‘actions speak louder than words.’ In speech-act theory, there are two types of utterances, constative and performative. Constative utterances can be identified as true or false. Performative utterances perform some action through the act of being spoken, or as John J. Austin writes, “to state that I am doing it: it is to do it” (Austin, 6). If actions do hold more influence than speech, speech-action would be the most influential type of speech. This is why, in Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, Nick is shaped by the performative utterances of authority figures more than he is shaped by constative utterances. In order to show the utility of performative utterances and how they are promoted in the English language over constative utterances, a close reading is required.
The performative utterances of Nick’s father in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” influence Nick for the book’s entirety. At the end of the story, Dick, Nick’s father, leaves the house and his wife for a walk. His wife asks him to send Nick inside to speak with her. He does not. The dialogue, “All right. Come on, then” (Hemingway, 76) is a performative utterance, one that grants permission with its usage. And, with its usage, Nick learns that it is acceptable to retreat from human interaction and connection, especially in favor of nature and the outdoors. Readers can gather from Dick’s character and behavior that this utterance is not an anomaly, that performative utterances highlighting the acceptability of isolating oneself in nature are frequent in Nick’s childhood. This type of utterance becomes a part of Nick’s identity, as is evident in the next story, “The End of Something.” It is fitting that this story follows immediately. The stories’ order underlines the connection between Dick’s performative utterance and his son’s isolation from people in favor of nature. In this narrative, Nick goes on a camping trip with his girlfriend and a close friend. Following his father’s lesson, Nick isolates himself from both. “Isn’t love any fun?” asks Marjorie. And Nick replies “no” (Hemingway 81). With this, their relationship ends and Nick seems to be left alone with nature. This is where readers first see Nick isolate himself according to his father’s teaching through the influence of performative utterance. But Nick is not alone. Again, the part of his identity that prefers nature to man is evident: “Oh, go away, Bill! Go away for a while.” And with that, Nick is finally alone with nature. This preference for nature over people is shown in “Big Two-Hearted River” as well. The phrase “The coffee according to Hopkins” suggests that Nick does have a longing for human interaction. But due to his father’s performative language, and to how that language has rooted itself in Nick’s identity, he chose to go on the trip alone.
Going backward to “Indian Camp” can show that constative utterances, even seemingly important ones, hold less influence on the forming of identity than performative utterances. In example, the dialogue exchange at the end of “Indian Camp,” which only contains constative utterances and seems to be a formative experience for Nick, holds no influence over him. Though his father tries to reassure him about the nature of death (with utterances that could be identified as true or false), Nick denies the notion of his own death. A lesson opposite the intended one is learned because of the usage of constative utterances and the demotion of constative utterances in the English language. Not only do they appear to hold less influence than performative utterances on the formation of an identity, but they may also have the reverse effect. Whereas performative utterances influence along the lines of the utterance (Nick is given permission through speech and he applies that permission to his identity), a constative utterance from authority figure may cause an identity to absorb an antithetical lesson (Dick states that death is easy and Nick feels he won’t die) (Hemingway 70).
Jonathan Culler puts the promotive quality of performative language a different way: “performative language is… bringing things into being, organizing the world rather than simply representing what it is” (Culler 101-102). Culler is saying that performative utterances shape the world around us, including identities within that world. One reason that performative utterances might be more influential than constative utterances is that they cannot be false. Perhaps the possibility or suspicion of falsehood could drive one away from a lesson taught through constative utterances. Performative utterances cannot be false since they themselves constitute the sole authority on that utterance. So, when Dick utters “alright,” he grants permission and at the same time makes the utterance the only evidence as to whether Dick grants permission or not, since it created the permission. In cases like this, a performative utterance commits the specified action of the utterance and confirms the utterance itself. This factor increases the utterance’s ethos by making it more reliable, thus causing the subject, in this case Nick, to absorb the lesson.
Austin, J. L. How to Do Things with Words. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1962. Print. Culler, Jonathan D. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. Print. Hemingway, Ernest. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Finca Vig?a Ed., 1st Scribner Trade Pbk. ed. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print.
Complication with Communication
The Lost Generation has faced an incomprehensible amount of pain and devastation caused by the war. Two of the major themes that exist in the novel are the empty lives of individuals and the failure of communication. These two themes are connected in various ways and complement each other yet neither would exist if the war had never taken place. The people of the war generation cannot express the impact the war has had on them, which heavily affects them emotionally and psychologically. The combination of having an empty life and keeping the dark, sad, lost, and lonely feelings inside results in alcoholism and depression. Hemingway’s objective was to allow readers of a different time period to have the ability to comprehend the impact the war had on war veterans and those around them. In The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway explores how traumatic events lead to communication barriers as a result of a tragedy. Many of the characters have difficulty speaking frank and honestly, are only able to speak honestly in some circumstances, and do not know how to deal with their problems. The conversations between the characters are not completely honest and the characters are often not saying everything on their mind.
The characters keep many secrets and only seem to share confidential information when they are not good-spirited. The characters have difficulty speaking frankly and honestly, tending to hide their feelings, emotions, and intentions. Bill is a very good example of having difficulty speaking frankly and honestly. After being a war correspondent, Bill experienced traumatic memories from the war and constantly uses humour to deal with his emotional and psychological damages. Bill once stated, “Never be daunted.” (Hemingway, 79). Bill is telling Jake to not reveal his emotions in public and to keep his feelings and emotions to himself. If these two do not show their emotions in public they will never discuss them and will result in never overcoming their pain. An equally important reason the characters have difficulty speaking honestly is lack of trust, Jake says, “I mistrust all frank and simple people, especially when their stories hold together” (Hemingway, 12). This is a big problem because if the characters do not trust each other they definitely will not share their sensitive troubles with each other. Furthermore, one night Jake reads through bullfighting newspapers and ends up crying himself to sleep. This is because he was feeling insecure about his masculinity because of his injury. Instead of discussing his feelings and emotions with his friends, Jake hides his feelings and uses the newspapers to feel better. Discussing problems with another person is much more effective and would allow Jake to release his problems by getting everything off his chest. Therefore, the characters have difficulty speaking frank and honestly, tending to hide their feelings, emotions, and intentions. The characters are only able to speak honestly in some circumstances, specifically when they are not in good spirits or when they are suffering. When Jake and Georgette are having drinks Jake claims to Georgette, “We would probably have gone on and discussed the war and agreed that it was in reality a calamity for civilization, and perhaps would have been better avoided.” (Hemingway, 24-25).
When Jake said this he was not in a good spirit whatsoever, otherwise, he would not have been with Georgette and told her something that would in his eyes, lower his masculinity. Likewise, when Bill and Jake are on their fishing trip they are more open and honest as it was just the two of them and they are affectionate of each other. During their trip, Bill says to Jake, “Listen. You’re a hell of a good guy, and I’m fonder of you than anybody on earth. I couldn’t tell you that in New York. It’d mean I was a faggot.” (Hemingway, 121). This quote reveals that Bill only told Jake this because in this circumstance they were away from the city and away from all the other characters and as Bill explained he would feel uncomfortable saying that in other circumstances. Moreover, as Jake and Brett are discussing their love for each other Jake says, “I know you’re right. I’m just low, and when I’m low I talk like a fool.” (Hemingway, 63).
Jake says it himself that he is only able to speak honestly in some circumstances, especially when he is not in a good spirit. Although Jake is the only one who specifically states this, all the characters are guilty of the same thing. Thus, the characters are only able to speak honestly in some circumstances specifically when they are not in good spirits or when they are suffering. The characters do not know how to deal with their problems which results in alcoholism and depression. Robert recognizes that himself and others are doing nothing good with their lives and says to Jake, “I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it” (Hemingway, 18). Jake then shuts him down responding, “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.” (Hemingway 18). This quotation reveals that Jake is making no effort to move on from his past and has simply given up. Jake understands the problems in the world and the people around him but very rarely does something to fix them because he does not know how. In a similar conversation, Jake says to Robert, “You can’t get away from yourself from moving from one place to another.” (Hemingway, 19). Again, Jake is shutting down Robert explaining that when someone goes somewhere their past follows them. It is fair to assume Jake believes there is no way to be able to forget his past and accept how his injury has changed his life forever. In addition, Jake says, “It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.” (Hemingway, 42). In this quotation, the hard-boiled egg is a metaphor for depressed war veterans, which they are.
The metaphor is different during the night because throughout the day means that during the day the characters do not have the distraction of intoxication, which results in depression and hopelessness. Unlike at night, they can get drunk in order to distract themselves from their past and current issues. All in all, the characters do not know how to deal with their problems which results in alcoholism and depression. The complication with communication takes place throughout the entire novel between characters. Hemingway does a spectacular job demonstrating to the reader how the war caused the Lost Generation and how individuals’ lives were forever changed. The failure of communication was a major theme in the book since the characters could not overcome their suffering because they did not know how to express their feelings and emotions. If the war had not occurred there is the possibility of alcoholism, depression, and many other problems would never have been an issue. In The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway explores how dreadful events lead to communication boundaries as a result of a tragedy.
The novel provides a taste of the Lost Generation and the pain and devastation people went through all because of the war. This makes the novel very significant as not many authors are able to explain the Lost Generation and the numerous issues brought with it. Ernest Hemingway’s writing style is very unique as a few things are very clear and interpretation plays a big role when reading the novel. A war ends in two ways; either someone loses their life serving their country, or they lose themselves.