Tag Archives: in our time

Class and Structure

The texts Mrs. Dalloway, Untouchables, Their Eyes, and In Our Time are all completely different yet have a theme that runs throughout them. Throughout each one I noticed a reoccurring theme of social class and structure. Each one displays evident class differences and it affects the entire structure of the novel. Mrs. Dalloway Clarissa is consistently affected by social class; she is an upper class woman who hates where she is. She despises being wealthy and upper class because she doubts her decision to marry Richard the entire novel. In Untouchables Bakha is considered a lower class citizen, he is the one who cleans the system and keeps the place clean. He is the lowest of the low and the separation is evident. Their Eyes displays a black community. Already we see a social class separation especially when they had the flood that killed many people. The black men were forced to separate the whites and the black dead people from each other. In Our Time shows some social class differences through the way the different characters speak and where they live. It just shows so much evidence of social class differences and the theme is reoccurring throughout all the books.

Not only that but Mrs. Dalloway, Untouchables, and In Our Time there is a use of parataxis throughout the three.

World War I and the rise of Modernism

After World War I, many novels used characters that related their wartime experiences in a post-war time frame.
This reflects the change of the thoughts and feelings from pre-war sentiments towards modernity. In Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and As I Lay Dying (1930), we have two characters, Septimus and Darl, that have both returned from the war and have gone towards madness in silence. This is also reflected in In Our Time (1925) through the terse style of Hemingway, which is indicative of the reporting of the events of war. This shows that many of the generation that went through this war period became hardened and lost individuals due to it.

Whose Body? (1923) and Mrs. Dalloway both embody the post-war rise of highly concentrated and urban centers that is found in London. This is done in Mrs. Dalloway through the shared experiences found in the fast-paced change in focalization in this work and the shift from scientific deductive methods in traditional detective novels towards an intuitive detective method in Whose Body?.

Lack of Emotion

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. All the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the minis­ters was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him downstairs and out into the rain. They tried to hold him up against the wall but he sat down in a puddle of water. The other five stood very quietly against the wall. Finally the officer told the soldiers it was no good trying to make him stand up. When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees. (51)

In this interchapter Hemingway uses almost no emotional language. It serves to heighten the emotion of what is actually happening.

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.

No Judgment

He pulled back the blanket from the Indian’s head. His hand came away wet. He mounted on the edge of the lower bunk with the lamp in one hand and looked in. The Indian lay with his face towards the wall. His throat had been cut from ear to ear. The blood had flowed down into a pool where his body sagged the bunk. His hand rested on his left arm. The open razor lay, edge up, in the blankets.

Hemingway, Ernest. “Indian Camp.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 18. Print.

Hemingway, throughout his stories, has a style where almost every single line is written without emotion or judgment of the situation that is occurring. In this passage, a suicide is described, but we are never given an expression of horror, or any expression at all. Perhaps the idea is to simply accept what is being described or to feel the horror without the assistance of any character depicting it for us.

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.

Hemingway’s hint of “home” compared to war culture?

“He was feeling exalted and talkative as football players are in the dressing room after a game.”

Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1958. p18.

I thought that this comparison with the football players was very odd. It did not fit into the context of what seemed to be a very serious, warlike environment. Did Hemingway use this specific comparison to show how the people who were witnessing and experiencing war were regular people who used to be in the “football” culture back at home?

Soldier’s Home

“He had felt sorry for his mother and she had made him lie. He would go to Kansas City and get a job and she would feel all right about it. There would be one more scene maybe before he got away. He would not go down his father’s office. He would miss that one.He wanted his life to go smoothly. It had just gotten going that way. Well, that was all over now, anyway.”

Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1958. p77.

Harold makes the decision to leave quite quickly and just wants to escape; he doesn’t want to pretend anymore.

Characterization in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.”

She [Henry’s wife] was a Christian Scientist.Her Bible, her copy of Science and Health and her Quarterly were on a table beside her bed in the darkened room.
Her husband did not answer. He was sitting on a bed now, cleaning a shotgun. He pushed the magazine full of the heavy yellow shells and pumped them out again. They were scattered on the bed.

Hemingway, Ernest. “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 25-26. Print.

The subtle clash between these two characters highlights Hemingway’s terse writing style: Henry’s wife is a Christian scientist, thus she is against her husband’s medical work. In contrast, we have Henry, a symbol of masculinity characterized by his silence on the subject of Dick’s anger and his wielding of a shotgun.

Emotionless Prose

They shot the six cabinet ministers…There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard…One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him downstairs and out into the rain…When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees.

Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Compared to the few readings prior to this one (Chapter V), Hemingway practically extracts and removes any form of emotion from this passage. The passage gives readers a small chill up their spine due to the realism that is perceived.