Hemingway And Symbolism Essay

Ernest Hemingway and Symbolism
Ernest Miller Hemingway is a well-known American author who wrote in the
twentieth century. He has written several novels such as, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom
the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. The Sun Also Rises was finished on April
1, 1926 and was published in October of 1926. The Sun Also
Rises was Hemingway’s expression of his own life. He had changed the names of his
friends and some of the details, but the real identities of the characters were obvious to
anyone in Paris. The Sun Also Rises encapsulates the angst of the
post-World War I generation, know as the Lost Generation. This poignantly beautiful
story of a group of American and English expatriates on a sojourn from Paris to
Pamplona represents a dramatic step forward for Hemingway’s evolving style. Featuring
Left Bank Paris in the 1920’s and brutally realistic descriptions of bullfighting in Spain,
the story is about the flamboyant Lady Brett Ashley and the hapless Jake Barnes. Ernest Miller Hemingway is an American author who has penned several novels and
short stories; one of his works is The Sun Also Rises.

Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. Hemingway was
raised with the conservative Midwestern values of strong religion, hard work, physical
fitness and self-determination; if one adhered to these parameters, he was taught, he
would be ensured of success in whatever field he chose . As a boy, he was
taught by his father to hunt and fish. When he wasn’t hunting or fishing his mother taught
him the finer points of music. Hemingway never had a knack for music and suffered
through choir practices and cello lessons, however the musical knowledge he acquired
from his mother helped him share in his first wife Hadley’s interest in the piano.

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Hemingway received his formal schooling in the Oak Park public school system. In high
school he was mediocre at sports, playing football, swimming, water basketball and
serving as the track team manager. He also worked on the school newspaper called the
Trapeze. Hemingway graduated in the spring of 1917 and instead of going to college the
following fall like his parents expected; he took a job as a reporter for the Kansas City
Star. Hemingway signed up as a volunteer ambulance driver for the
Red Cross during WWI. He was accepted in December of 1917, left his job at
the paper in April of 1918, and sailed for Europe in May. When Hemingway returned
home from Italy in January of 1919 he found Oak Park dull compared to the adventures
of war. With a letter of introduction from Sherwood Anderson, Hemingway met some
of Paris’ prominent writers and artists and forged quick friendships with them during his
first few years. Counted among those friends were Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia
Beach, James Joyce, Max Eastman, Lincoln Steffens and Wyndahm Lewis, and he was
acquainted with the painters Miro and Picasso. Hemingway was inspired to write
different works at different times because of the events that occured in his life.

Hemingway died July 2, 1961, at his home, as the result of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Ernest Hemingway had a different style of writing than the other authors in his
time. The Sun Also Rises is the book that established Hemingway as a literary force and
it introduced the world to the Lost Generation. The Lost Generation is
referred to as the disillusioned that fought in the war. Two of the novel’s main
characters, Lady Brett Ashley and Jake Barnes, typify the Lost Generation. This
book has a lot of thematic issues, but the reader really needs to think to be able to pick up
on all of them. Friendship, stoicism, and natural grace under pressure are offered as
the values that matter in an otherwise amoral often-senseless world . His mind is set
on writing only. The only thing Hemingway thought about was writing and finishing
The Sun Also Rises. The writing is as strong and powerful as a swift kick to the head
. This quote is referring to Hemingway’s strong and complex style of writing.

Hemingway writes about the dreariness of everyday life but it is interesting at the
emphasis on drinking during the age of prohibition. The only failing is that the
messages he delivers are a little empty in that we know he delivers them in a way that we
like. His morals are hard to understand unless you can achieve his state of mind.

The main characters of the novel are Jake Barnes, Brett Ashley, Robert Cohn, and Pedro
Romero. While the characters are realistically drawn, each has a sort of representative
quality that defines his or her relationship with the group and with the age in which the
novel is set. Jake Barnes has his war wound, which robs him of the ability to have sex
though not the desire; he is capable of survival and communication though not
regeneration. Robert Cohn’s Jewishness marks him for exclusion and underlines the
snobbishness of this circle even in its apparent informality. However, he is alienated more
by his stubborn chivalry and romanticism, expressed in his constant seriousness and his
obsessive attachment to Brett. Brett is the promiscuous femme fatale; Mike is the
indiscreet alcoholic; Bill Gorton is the perceptive joker (who makes the sustained
reference to stuffed dogs). The overall plot concern of understanding is summarized by
the minor but important character of the count: That is the secret. You must get to know
the values. He has searched for meaning all of his life and has found it
in understanding the values. Most of the other characters have yet to find the values. Jake
is still stuck in the past, unable to get beyond the permanence of his war wound. Yet, he
can still envision of future with Brett. Brett, who will always remain in her conquests’
memories, is trying to forget herself in drink and meaningless sex. In spite of this, she can
clearly and accurately visualize the improbability of any future with Jake. One of the
main themes of The Sun Also Rises is impotence. Not only Jake’s physical impotence, but
also the powerlessness of the bull in the face of its imminent cruel death, the characters’
barrenness of emotion and lack of sensitivity, their ineffectiveness, alcoholism, and
failure to work out some sort of meaningful personal philosophy and an exhausted
cynicism”. Hemingway shows war wounds as the destroyer of love: Jake pursues love
without sex and Brett pursues sex without love. Other themes found under the umbrella
of impotence are: lack of family, rootlessness, nihilism, and alienation, being from
somewhere else and being cut off from the past. It is the cyclical nature of the novel,
heralded in the second epigraph (from Ecclesiastics): One generation passeth away, and
another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever . . . The sun also riseth, and the
sun goeth down . . . All the rivers run into the sea . . . unto the place from whence the
rivers come, thither they return again.
The Sun Also Rises was Hemingway’s best-selling novel and is still a popular
book today. The Sun Also Rises was about the events that were taking place in
Hemingway’s life. The Sun Also Rises can be related to real life by accepting the fact that
it was written from a man’s real life experience.

The symbolism in A Farewell to Arms is very much apparent. Ernest
Hemingway has always been one who is big on the symbolism of night as
being bad. To the main character in Hemingway’s novels, nights have
always been a sign of death, or something negative to happen. Another
one of the symbolisms in A Farewell to Arms is when Henry tries to
escape from the Italian army by jumping off one of the ships the army
was traveling on and running away from the army. This symbolism was
the water that he jumped into was a symbolism of the new, clean life
that he was going to live from now on. At this time, Henry goes off
and finds his wife to be.

The material objects that Hemingway uses to convey the theme are beer, the
good and bad hillsides, and a railroad station between two tracks. The beer
represents the couple’s, “the American” and “the girl’s”, usual routine activity they do
together. This bothers the girl because “that’s all [they] do … look at things and try
new drinks.” This shows that the girl is tired of doing the same thing and wants to do
something different, like having a baby and a family, instead of fooling around all the
time. She wants to stop being a girl and become a woman. Hemingway then
presents the reader with two contrasting hills. One hill on one side of the station is
dull, desolate, and barren; “it had no shade and no trees”, very desert like. However,
the other hill on the other side of the station is beautiful, plentiful in nature, and had
“fields of grain and tress along the banks of the Ebro River.” Also on each side of the
station where each hill is, there is a train track. These objects are symbolic devices
prepare the reader in realizing that the characters are in a place of decision. The
railroad station is a place of decision where one must decide to go one way or the
other. The tracks symbolize either decision that the girl must make. By the looks of
the environment around each track, it is clear what kind of destination each track
leads to. This proves that the girl must decide whether she wants her body and life to
become barren and desolate or plentiful and beautiful. If she chooses abortion, then,
of course, she will choose the track with the desolate hills because her body will
become a barren desert where no life will abide. On the other hand if she wants to
have the baby, she will choose the track which is surrounded by the plentiful and
beautiful hills, because her body will be a genisis. Either way, this clearly conveys the
theme of abortion by showing that the girl must make a life or death decision.

Along with symbolic objects, three symbolic characters further develop the
theme of abortion. The three characters are “the girl”, “the American”, and “the
woman.” The girl symbolizes youth, innocence, and na?vety. She is ignorant to her
final decision of having an abortion, because she is so young and is still in the prime
of her life, experiencing new things everyday. Hemingway uses her to show a young
pregnant girl trying to decide if having the baby will ruin her youthfulness, ruin her
relationship, or in contrast make her a woman. She is getting tired of the same old
routine, mentioned before, so her choice is to do something different, to have the
baby, to become a woman, and leave her childish ways for good. The only thing that
stands in her way of her decision is “the American.” The American symbolizes an
individualist who wants to do things his way. Usually Americans have a laid back
attitude and don’t want to mess with anything complicated, as does the American in
this story. The American supports the theme by opposing the girl and saying that the
baby “is the only thing that bothers” them. He talks of a certain simple “Operation”
in which the doctors will simply “let the air in.” “The American[‘s]” talk of the
“Operation” further justifies abortion as the theme because the doctors putting the
air inside of her, referrs to taking a fetus out of her womb. The man is more
concerned with the effects of the baby ruining his life more than hers due to the fact
that the man says the baby is the only thing that “bothers [them], when in actuality
the woman approves of the baby. This also proves the “Operation” is an abortion
because the usual case of abortions is: a woman gets pregnant, then the man gets
scared, and tells the woman to get an abortion because the baby will ruin both of
their lives. Next is the character of the woman who shows contrast, and supports the
qualities of “the girl”. She is called “the woman” because she is older, and the reader
is to assume, wiser, and experienced. The “girl” talks about “having a fine time” and
“trying new drinks” which shows that she is still young, living a life of ease,
experiencing a lot of things, where as the woman brings these “new drinks” to the girl.
This displays the woman as mature, older, and experienced because she is working
instead of “trying new drinks”, and “having a fine time.” She is no longer yound
leisurely trying new drinks, she is working trying to earn a living. She is an indirect
supportive device of the theme in that she the opposite image of what the girl is. The
woman further defines the symbolic qualities of the girl, in other words.

English Essays


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