Tag Archives: hemingway

Moments of concentrated empathy

In Our Time, Hemingway (1925). Hemingway’s spare prose style and repressed emotions are seemingly inadequate for capturing the trauma his characters undergo. In “Soldier’s Home,” Krebs feels intense frustration because he can’t “make his mother see” the trauma of war, which is something he can’t express.

Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf (1925). Moments when characters are so acute to each other’s emotions, they seem to pick up and respond to each other within their heads, such as exchange between Peter and Clarissa. Also moments when characters feel intently but are unable to convey this, such as Richard unable to tell Clarissa he loves her. Finally, moments where characters are only tenuously related (Clarissa, Septimus) but Clarissa feels intense empathy for Septimus at the party, despite differences in social class.

As I Lay Dying, Faulkner (1930). Between Darl and Dewey Dell, who seem able to communicate nonverbally. Even Darl and Dewey Dell’s accounts contradict what actually was said. Also between Darl and Cash, where Cash picks up a memory Darl recalls of Jewel.

Nightwood, Barnes (1936). Pattern of male characters unable to understand their wives’ emotions, (Guido in 6, Felix in 45), but Robin and Nora have a kindredness the instant they meet. On 64, Robin says “Don’t wait for me,” almost as if it were a response to Nora’s thoughts on their resurrection.

Experiences of shared thoughts in Hemingway and Woolf seem directly influenced by WWI, whereas Faulkner is interested in familial relations and Barnes is interested in kinship between misfits, women. But in Woolf and Barnes, awareness of other characters’ emotions is present in women-women relationships (Elizabeth feels sympathy for Mrs. Kilman and guilt). However, society (and law) prevents same-gender relations, so by the party scene, Clarissa not only feels little kinship with Sally, she feels a snobby towards her. In Barnes, the female relationship is open and Robin and Nora have a more empathetic relationship than Guido/Hedvig, Felix/Robin, whose relationships seem characterized by tragic miscommunications. Finally, three novels have moments where characters seem to pick up in speech where other characters’ thoughts trail off, whereas in Hemingway, the dialogue between Krebs and his mother is disjointed, jumping from one topic to another.

The expatriate experience

There seems to be a sudden change in the expatriate’s experience of return in the stories we have read following World War I, aside from just psychological effects.  In “Soldier’s Home” in  In Our Time (1925), Krebs remarks that “nothing was changed in the town except that the young girls had grown up,” and observes changes in women’s fashion.  In Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Peter Walsh notices on his return from India that “Newspapers seemed different,” and mentions a man who writes about toilets openly in “one of the respectable weeklies.”  In the postwar period, it appears there is more of a focus on external societal changes than on internal ones upon the expatriate’s return. In The Jolly Corner (1908) however,  we see the opposite, as Spencer Brydon seems to care much more about the internal, evident in his proclamation that “It’s only a question of what fantastic, yet perfectly possible, development of my own nature I mayn’t have missed.”  On first glance this difference could perhaps be chalked up to the war experience, but Peter’s making an observation in the same vein as Krebs without actually having directly experienced the war suggests that perhaps a widespread change in societal thought took place following the war, and that the war stunted internal conflict at large.

Historical Timeline

Three Lives (“Melanctha”) by Stein was published in 1909. In Our Time by Hemingway and Mrs. Dalloway by Woolf was published in 1925. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston was published in 1937. As we discussed during the beginning of the semester, these texts would be labeled under the modernist movement. However, modernism is just the umbrella; each text has its own individual way of breaking away from the “norms.” Interestingly enough, “Melanctha” and Their Eyes Were Watching God have some similarities such as the black vernacular that is used. However, the reader must keep in mind that the ethnicity of the authors are different, which may impact the analytical aspect of the stories. In Our Time and Mrs. Dalloway share more similarities than differences: 1) both texts were published the same year and 2) while Hemingway’s text possesses elements of masculinity, Woolf’s text can arguably posses elements of feminism.

Hemingway’s Experience: Death

“‘Is dying hard, Daddy?’
‘No, I think it’s pretty easy, Nick. It all depends.’
They were seated in the boat. Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning.  In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing; he felt quite sure that he would never die.”

It seems as though writing from experience is a common technique for modern fiction writers.  Not only does Hemingway write from his war experience, but he isn’t afraid to include gore (Indian Camp).  Not only does Hemingway enhance the text with descriptive morbid scenes, but he contrasts the melancholy with a glimpse of optimism while tying in the dawn of a new day.

 

 

Passage of Time

“In the old days Hortons Bay was a lumbering town.  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 lumber schooners came into the bay and were laded with the cut of the mill that stood stacked in the yard.  All the piles of lumber were carried away.  The big mill building had all its machinery that was removable taken out and hoisted on board one of the schooners by the men who had worked in the mill … the sails of the schooner filled and it moved out into the open lake, carrying with it everything that had made the mill a mill and Hortons Bay a town.

Ten years later there was nothing of the mill left except the broken white limestone of its foundations showing through the swampy second growth as Nick and Marjorie rowed along the shore” (31).

There’s a lot of dealing with the passage of time and the cycles of life in this book.  Here, more than ten years pass in less than a page as Hemingway concisely represents the town in its noisy heyday down to when there is nothing at all left of it.  I was struck by how all of that life was stripped down both by time and by his description of it.

 

Hemingway, Ernest. “The End of Something.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. Print.

Chapter V

“They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard.”

Hemingway, Ernest. “Chapter V.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 51. Print.

 

The repetition of “courtyard” is jarring, which makes the reader  pause and draws them into the scene before the main event transpires.

 

 

 

Life and Death

“Is dying hard, Daddy?” “No, I think it’s pretty easy, Nick. It all depends.”

Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1958. Print.

The conversation between the boy and his father was a compelling and moving moment in the short story, “Indian Camp.” After witnessing the death and suicide of an Indian Man, the son asks his father if death is hard, and his response was vague, but profound. Death is easy but life is difficult. I believe that was what the Doctor was trying to explain to his son. It is more challenging and arduous to face your problems and fears and overcoming them than it is to simply just quit or run away.  The brief conversation between the pair I believe was what made the short narrative something special.

Krebs’ post-war loneliness

“A distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told. All of the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself when he thought of them; the times so long back when he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally, when he might have done something else, now lost their cool, valuable quality and then were lost themselves.”

Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 69-70. Print.

I can’t relate to Krebs’ war experiences, but I feel a lot of sadness for Krebs because he can’t find anyone who understands his experience.

Hemingway

As he smoked, his legs stretched out in front of him, he noticed a grasshopper walk along the ground and up onto his woolen sock. The grass­hopper was black. As he had walked along the road, climbing, he had started many grasshop­pers from the dust. They were all black. They were not the big grasshoppers with yellow and black or red and black wings whirring out from their black wing sheathing as they fly up. These were just ordinary hoppers, but all a sooty black in color. Nick had wondered about them as he walked, without really thinking about them. Now, as he watched the black hopper that was nibbling at the wool of his sock with its fourway lip, he realized that they had all turned black from living in the burned-over land. He realized that the fire must have come the year before, but the grasshoppers were all black now. He won­dered how long they would stay that way.

 

Hemingway, Ernest. “Brave Two-Hearted River Part I” In Our Time.

Beautiful sumnation…

“In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with  his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.” (19)

Hemingway, Ernest. “Indian Camp” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 19. Print.

This last sentence is such an effective and powerful usage of minimalism. The final repetition of the early time of day speaks to the new beginning of life and learning. Sitting in the stern while his father rows seems to suggest that while he has learned a valuable lesson, he is still not far enough along that he can guide himself forward. This is further evidenced by his feelings of immortality, something that is present in us all at such a young age.