Word Count: 2210 was one of the greatest writers of the century. He was born at the close of the old century but was able to see the Disorders of the new century. Hemingway was marvelous in bringing about his pictorial effects for his readers even in his drunken state. Hemingway was skilled in the way he presented the real and concrete to be the first essentials in his writing. He put life back on the page so that we could see the grim reality of the truth. Hemingways style brought minute details to the surface so that the readers would understand his meanings. In the stories that I have chosen the critics have analyzed the story. In this paper I intend to prove that Ernest Hemingways writing in Soldiers Home and Hills Like White Elephants influenced American writing styles through Symbols, Themes and writing techniques.
In several of Hemingways short stories, he uses one or more animals as symbols around which the story revolves. As central symbols, Hemingways animals are the manifestations of the psychological states and emotional desire of the main characters in the stories. He uses the symbols to enable the reader to comprehend the often not stated psychological forces that motivates them. Hemingways use of symbolism is a contribution to the richness of his characters. It provides the reader with a vehicle through which they can associate. Without them the stories would lose much of their color and clarity. In the short story Soldiers Home, Majorie Smelstor said the title of this story suggests a familiar American landmark and symbol, The soldiers home, a place for retired military to live and relive their war experiences In this tale, however, the soldiers home is neither a haven for ex-soldiers nor an environment for reminiscing (MaGill 2170). Another symbol is the lies that Kerb lives with every day. Marjorie Smelstor said For the townspeople do not want to hear the truth about the atrocities of battle, preferring, instead, lies about the heroics of war (MaGill 2170).Marjorie Smelstor said In the end of the story Mrs. Kerbs reasserts her maternal role, reminding her son that she held him next to her heart when he was a tiny baby, Reducing kerbs to the juvenile lie: I know, mummy Ill try and be a good boy for you (MaGill 2171).
The other story that I have chosen is Hills Like White Elephants it has many different symbols that relate to peoples lives. Hal Hollady said The name of the girl (Jig) is a symbolic name. It is a name of a lively dance. The name implies that she may change her mind about the abortion at any time (MaGill 1020). This story does not come out and tell you what is going on between the man and the woman. The symbols relate to what is happening. One of the important symbols is the bamboo bead curtain that hangs across the doorway of the station bar room (Gilmor 47 ).The curtainaccording to the critics represents the mans desire to maintain the status quo in their relationship. The curtain represents their emotional separation as well, for they regard it differently as they do the more familiar symbol of the hills (Organ 11).Hills refer to the shape of the belly of a pregnant woman, and white elephant is an idiom that refers to useless or unwanted things (Organ 11). Making more specific symbol of the bead curtain, Elliot thinks that when jig takes hold of the two strains of beads they represent the rosary beads and her also being a catholic. When Jig plays with the beads the man thinks that she is playing with a childs toy, thus the curtain may symbolize the unborn child. The abortion is not merely a perfectly natural or simple operation to her, it is a symbolic act. Jig thinks this will cut her off irrevocably from what is good and alive in the world (MaGill 1019).
Towards the end of the story the landscape takes on a powerful picture. It describes where the couple waits for the train. The country is brown and dry. The girl feels that the dry is a representation to herself as the barren. On the other side of the tracks the fields are green with several trees (MaGill 1020). In these two stories Hemingway demonstrates how he uses the symbols to display the emotion of the characters.
Hemingways themes are the main plots of the stories that sometimes uneventful. It is not what does happen but what is not said that is important. In the Soldiers Home The detached objective voice in this story is characteristic of Hemingways work and serves to maintain a constant tension between narration and subject matter (Wilson 205 ). One of the stories central concern is described by a term that was once fashionable the generation gap (Wilson 205). The gap is more like a chasm that separates the ex-marine from the towns people (MaGill 2171). Before the war, the conventional values of Kerbs hometown had been, for the most part, American values (MaGill 2171). When the main character kerb came home from the war he is changed but the townspeople are not. The conflict is between challenger and challenged. The tension between
Americans moving into the modern world and Americans protecting Victorians values (MaGill 2173 ). It just happened that after World War 1. The soldiers were among the chief challengers. Kerbs return from the war changed by his experiences, but the local citizenry is exactly what they were before the war, sure of themselves and their values (Magill 2173). Like Kerbs of Soldiers Home he will later retract his denial of love but is not truthful in his retraction (Magill 2173).
In the main themes of Hills like white Elephant the story is mostly dialog and has very little action. The critics describe this story like A game of chess. Hemingways story deals with the sterility and vacuity of the modern world (Halladay 1019). This is a masterfully compressed story of a couples discussion concerning a mans proposal that the girl jig, summits to an abortion (Wilson 205). Hemingways characters seem to live in a world without God, traditions or values. He is quite literal minded, quite pragmatic, quite unemotional: an admirable fellow by modern patriarchal standards. The woman, on the other hand, is unreasonable enough to imagine that hills look like white elephants. There might be some virtue to having a child who would surely be like a white elephant, a sacred beast in some cultures, but in America or Europe, something that is more trouble than it is worth (MaGill 1020). The man well situated in his life and does not want to be bothered with more responsibility. The boredom of the man and desperation of the girl reveal the emptiness of the postwar generation and the critical necessity of taking responsibility for the quality of ones life (MaGill 1020). The girl jig, tries to talk to him about it but does not get the response she wants so she ends up not wanting to talk at all. Marjorie Smelstor said She is tugging at the Americans sympathy strings and playing him like a fiddle (Gagne 2). In this story Jig is a tragic figure seemingly driven into a barren and empty existence by her love for this man. Hemingways brief and seemingly objective story is a powerful condemnation of the aimlessness, hypocrisy, moral and spiritual poverty of the modern world (MaGill 1021). In the end the couple presumably board the train; she has the abortion; and their relationship continues its downward drift into a barren emptiness.
Hemingway was a unique individual as a writer. He influenced many writers with the technique of his writing style. Young said Hemingways relationship between his stories and his own life is an immediate and intricate one (Marowski, Stine 5). Some stories appear to report details of actual experience as faithfully as he might have entered them in his diary.Young said, In others the ploy of his imagination has transformed experiences into a new and different reality (Marowski, Stine 5). This style is what made Hemingway different from the other writers.Paul Rosenfeld said, In the story Soldiers Home this is one of Hemingways form half left in limbo of the stencil. The happy relief to this and other stories that he left incomplete pieces (Guton 211). Hemingways narrative technique, sentence structure, dialogue, and the use of several symbolism are imagery strategies that create a marriage between form and content in the story. Horce P. Jones points out that Hemingway makes a couple of errs in the story (Monteiro 50). First it’s clear that both errs were deliberate on Hemingways part. It serves as suttle but telling tail to establish the cool detached irony he evidently wanted for Soldiers Home(Horce 50). It is unlikely that the editors missed Hemingways err with the discrepancy of dates and months (Monteiro 50). One err is when Hemingway writes that Soldier Kerbs returns home years later after the war was over. Kerbs missed out on the town celebrating the return of the soldiers. The other err Hemingway wrote was that Kerbs was a soldier who had enlisted in the marines in 1917, but the story refers to Kerbs as a soldier. To refer to a marine in these terms is anathema (Monteiro 51).The editor felt this was how Hemingway wanted the story to be with the errs so he left it the way it was. Marjorie Smelstor said The sentence structure was suited to the message of restraint of the famous Hemingway code of grace under pressure (Gagne 2171). The context in which the details are presented makes this apparent. It guides the reader to clearly ironic tone this controls the readers interpretation of the facts as presented (Monteiro 50).In style and technique of Hills Like White Elephants is a quintessential early Hemingway story, the use of the language of speech as the basis for the story, the insistence on the presentation rather than contrary the condensation and the intensity are all basic elements of his theory of fiction (MaGill 198). Hemingways technique plays an important role in this story. The use of clear and economical style to reveal a relationship which is troubled and complex is ironic (MaGill 198). The story is carefully written. Through out the reader will understand the relationship between the American and the girl. The language is simple and even colloquial, this expresses feelings (Gagne 3). The story starts out with Spanish as the language so you would think of the setting of Mexico or Spain. Hemingway uses the language so it would not be a mistake or inconceivable (Gagne 3). In using this technique he is able to keep you in suspense of the story, but also have you understand his way of writing. Hemingway uses a single word, anise to reveal his greatness as a writer to the unerring details conveyed. The word anise portrays the conflict and strain in communication between the girl and the American as they discuss whether or not to abort the embryo ( Passey 32). Anise is a cleansing drink. It has a seed that aids in expelling gas from the alimentary canal to relieve colic. Colic is a paroxysm of abdominal pain localized in a hollow organ. The American orders this drink for him and the girl. This clearly shows you that the conflict and lack of communication between the two of them (Passey 33). The answer is still unresolved and the girl must choose between the man and the baby. At the end of the story the reader is not sure of the girl’s decision.Hemingway left the end of the story unresolved.
In his life time Ernest Hemingway enjoyed tremendous success as a writer. His ability to describe a story in detail was his best talent. On the two stories, Ernest showed his unique ability of story telling. Hemingway was very clever in using Symbols to bringhis characters to life. Hemingway wrote many of war stories but was never a soldier. He just had the talent of looking at life and writing it down in a symbolic way. Most all the critics come up with the conclusion that Hemingway was truly talented. He influenced other American writers with his style, symbols, themes and technique.