Ernest Hemingway's Philosophy: Themes & Concepts

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Hemingway’s Concept of the Artist

      According to Hemingway, an artist has to train and develop himself like a sportsperson. In much, the same way as a sportsman has to be trained properly and educated in order to develop his talent to full advantage so also the writer or any other artist must undergo rigorous training to fully utilize his talent. This training is by no means easy rather it is a long painful process. Hemingway himself sought to perfect his art and the kind of technique that he endorsed can be seen in Romero in The Sun Also Rises and later in the old fisherman Santiago of The Old Man and the Sea. Romero’s technique while bull-fighting or Santiago’s while fishing is a technique that is straight pure and natural. There are no distortions of any kind. Hemingway endorses this technique which he strived to achieve in his art, in his other heroes also such as Jack Barnes, Nick Adams, etc. The technique is to keep absolute purity in thought, action, and behavior and thus seek to know true emotion.

Devotion to Art and Boldness in Attitude

      While the artist is undergoing his period of training he needs to be devoted to his art and to sustain his boldness. To understand and to realize what he truly feels rather than a preconceived notion of what he should feel and to realize the best possible way in which to state his findings, the artist need to be bold and sustain his enthusiasm for his art. In order to write meaningful text, the artist needs to be exposed to the hardships and painful experiences of life. Hemingway thus supported the active life he led. The hero is akin to both the writer and the sportsman. As the hero in the novel gets his training through his encounters with various experiences of life, and from which he must emerge with bold courage and enthusiasm for life so must the artist. Similarly, all need develops awareness and fully recognizes his enemy, and develops means and ways to enrich and strengthen his integrity and experience. The hero must first understand life, segregate what is important to him and then live with an enthusiasm for that which is important to him. However, the artist faces a blank page, the hero on the other hand has to face those elements and forces of nature that undermine man’s struggle. These destructive forces are those that kill Catlierine Barkley, that send those sharks who rip away the marlin’s flesh etc. Hemingway personifies this force by frequently using the pronoun “they” to refer to it and thereby moving it as an enemy that the hero must face. Evidence can be found in A Farewell to Arms. Frederic Henry says, “You did not know what was all about. You never had time to learn. They threw you in and told you the rules and the first time they caught you off base they killed you.”

      That it is an experience that allows the hero to live or can be easily gathered from the Nick Adams stories leading to the time when he becomes Jack Barnes. Jack undergoes war and physical torments. He is therefore tested and emerges with courage and strength and an enthusiasm for life. He can live life according to the value he has set as important. All these are to state that in order to live or write one has to have experience. And with experience one can maintain the desire to do and achieve.

      Hemingway laid great stress on understanding the value and in it finding a defense against the forces.

Knowledge an Essential Ingredient

      For the artist to convey realism in his writing, Hemingway deemed it necessary that he possessed enough experience. Hemingway was obsessed even fascinated by war. He felt that experiencing war was an advantage for the writer as the war was one of the major subjects and certainly one of the hardest to write truly of. It was, Hemingway believed only those writers who had not seen war who tended to glorify it or else to treat it as something of least significance or something away from that which is normal, a kind of disease. Hemingway on the other hand was enriched with the number of wars he participated in, The Spanish Civil War and both the world war not to speak of those which he covered as a roving newspaper correspondent, and because of his war experience, he was able to give a realism into the portrayal of war that was new and not yet seen in the literature. And this was particularly important for him and his generation, the generation which Graduate Stein called the lost generation’ and subsequently for the next generation. Therefore comes the realistic exploration, the loss of innocence, seen in such novels as A Farewell to Arms which was based at the time of the first world war, and For Whom the Bell Tolls dealing with the Spanish Civil War.

Themes Based on Personal Experience

      Hemingway thus based his art on the experience of his own life. He wrote in order to be true and truthful what has to know and what else one can know more than what one has gone through personally. Hemingway’s personal life itself is a great adventure. Hemingway was introduced to the outdoor life at an early age by his father and his entire life was filled with fishing, big game hunting, bullfighting, shooting, war, and being severely injured a number of times and again several accidents in the air and on the road too. One can say his body during his life took as much physical battering as it could take. In his oeuvre, therefore one can see that Hemingway has written exclusively of what he knew intimately. A Farewell to Arms is based on his experiences during the Spanish Civil War, his knowledge of bullfighting can be seen in Death in the Afternoon, similarly his knowledge of fishing in The Old Man and, the Sea. This concentration on personal experience has been the reason why many readers and critics tend to identify Hemingway with the characters he created for his fiction. Hemingway’s literary output is not massive and the range of subject matter that he discusses is not massive either. This is because he keeps returning to what he has experienced and has explored thoroughly. He then gave the theme an honest representation. Hemingway's themes are therefore themes for his personal experience which in turn was also the experience of his generation and the following generation, two generations caught in the crossfire of two World Wars in a lifetime. These generations were bred therefore in an atmosphere of death, destruction, and havoc created by the war or age where violence ruled and traditional ideals and values were destroyed and rendered meaningless. It was the world where meaningful existence was in many ways difficult and obscure and Hemingway’s task as an artist was first to be trained by going through the experiences first hand and then developing a vision of his own which he imparted to the world through his novels and short stories.

The Hemingway Code

      Hemingway was always fascinated by war. Rather he was preoccupied with the war. And as result violence was one of the main themes he was concerned with. Right from the start of his literary career Hemingway has portrayed violence in many forms. His first volume of short stories to be published In Our Time contains physical and psychological wounds, death, suicide, murder, and sexual unhappiness. However, Hemingway is not a glorification of blood and therefore the sake of reproducing violence on paper. They do not in any way show Hemingway as an insensitive and callous man. Rather it is because he is sensitive and caring and of a tender disposition that the shock and brutality that is caused by mindless violence is so vividly and realistically portrayed in his works. Hemingway finds a new way of handling these preoccupations and subsequently develops them as he explores their meaning and also the means to adjust to these pre-occupations. It is from this that the Hemingway code is developed. Hemingway’s code is therefore strict adherence to courage and honesty and the Hemingway hero is the one who strictly follows this. He is usually a man for whom life proves to be disastrous and disappointing and he knows that in this he has no fault but that it is a result of the hostile controlling forces. Hemingway’s hero also knows that the answer lies in fighting and struggling against it rather than a marked pessimism and placed acceptance. To deny fighting would be equivalent to denying life. Hemingway’s code enables the hero to get through such a life with decency and with honor and get through the pressures and opposing elements. Because the hero gets through a life of hardships without compromising on his principles Hemingway is sometimes regarded as a moralist. However, he doesn’t adopt an oracular style. His method is to imply and hint.

His Portrayal of Death and Violence

      Hemingway has dealt intensively with the world of death and violence as a natural outcome of his preoccupation with war. He has portrayed a post-war society in a variety of ways and drawn images of a wide variety. Hemingway was mostly concerned with reacting to the issues made important by World War I. Right from his first book published in 1924, the collection of short stories In Our Time Hemingway has been concerned with this subject. The stories in this collection deal with violence and the education of Nick Adams through that violence. Hemingway’s hero tries to understand these basic experiences of death and violence and struggles and tries to understand the forces of nature that thwart man and man’s unreasonable actions. Hemingway’s interest in outdoor sports and other activities is put to use here as he draws his images and symbolism from these experiences. Hemingway’s hero follows the maxim “grace under pressure”, he risks defeat either from man or nature. In Hemingway’s early novels the man portrayed is usually a single man elemental in nature and yet a man to meet moral and physical emergencies lead on. His moral sense is related closely to his immediate experience. Whether anything was good or bad was based on immediate experience. If for example, something made you feel good afterward then that thing was good. If on the other hand if the thing made you feel disgusted afterward then that thing was considered immoral. However, the controlling concept was of giving and take. You got according to what you did. The concept was not of revenge or punishment, but just plain exchange. You got something in return for what you have given. Similarly, man’s character was established. It is tested according to whether you fit into a certain social set or not. And especially the way in which he assumes his position in a group. If a person cannot adjust properly to their experience then tends to either exaggerate or else sentimentalize his reaction on the other hand a person who is well adjusted reacts unlike the former. They are neither given to exaggerating nor openly reacting. They rather try to tone down their experience. They are rather uncomfortable in an excessive display of emotion or rhetoric. Hemingway’s concept is that one should not spend too much time explaining one’s life.

      In his portrayal of the war, it is to be understood that the experiences of the soldier shall be violent. However, Hemingway well understood that a novel cannot be focussed on violence only from beginning till end. Hemingway, therefore, sought two means to adjust to this violence. One way is to draw an idyll like the Catherine, Henry idyll in the Swiss mountains and the Bweguete interlude in The Sun Also Rises. Another manner of adjustment is to make a statement on the aesthetics of violence for example bullfighting wherein native courage is formalized aesthetically.

Simplistic and Clean Behaviour

      A very important principle around which Hemingway’s writing is based is the principle of simplicity in writing and to write in a manner completely far from mystification or abstraction or any element of remoteness from the truth. Hemingway wrote in his novel Death in the Afternoon, that, ‘If a man writes clearly enough, anyone can see if he fares’. Hemingway endorsed simplification and was strictly against over-emotionalizing any situation or any generalization which distorted the facts. This simplistic approach can be seen in Hemingway’s lesson, learned from the first world war, which the protagonist states midway through the novel. Henry: “I was always embarrassed by the words sacred”, “glorious”, and “sacrifice”, and the expression “in vain”. The implication is that for Henry and thereby by projection Hemingway he finds that these words are meaningless, rather they are disgusting. They are misleading words for they force men to fight for causes that they barely understand and suffer and die for them. These words which he calls “glory words” do not appeal to Hemingway. Philosophy is confusing and doesn’t come under rigid responsibility. Hemingway, therefore, can only deal with moments of sensation, however, prudently and a discussion of man’s physical courage because according to him only physical courage can be identified as a true gesture. Hemingway’s works eulogize the authentic and sincere and abandon the artificial, and the affected and contrived emotions. An example of the discarded can be seen in the character of Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises who fails to adjust to a group of friends not because he is Jewish but because his actions were not natural or truthful and he indulged in an excessive dramatization of his self-consciousness. An example of the clean behavior which Hemingway extols and eulogizes can be seen in the various outdoor activities that Hemingway was so fond of during his lifetime, that is hunting, fishing, boxing, bull-fighting, etc. Of these bull-fightings provided an aesthetic of Hemingway’s clean and simple style is demonstrated from the manner in which Pedro Romero in the novel The Sun Also Rises fights the bull in the ring.

      Romero never made any contortions, always it was straight and pure and natural in line. The others twisted themselves like cork-screws, their elbow raised, and leaned against the flanks of the bull after his horns had passed, to give a fared look of danger.

      This clear style devoid of any kind of deception is the style that Hemingway follows.

A More Encompassing Attitude

      From this simplistic interpretation of life, Hemingway later progressed to a wider and generally more encompassing attitude and mode of interpretation. This can be observed from the difference found in Lieutenant-Frederic Henry the hero of A Farewell To Arms (1929) to Robert Jordan the hero of For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). This is because by 1940, Hemingway had grown older and had also gone through the Spanish Civil War and a difference arises as Hemingway had gained convictions and assurances from this and appealed to it now. In the earlier novels, The Sun Also Rises (1927) and A Farewell to Arms (1929) Hemingway downplays the aspect of loyalty to the self. This is however also evident here but to bring a stronger sense of justification Hemingway renders the personal self loyal to society too and further loyal to the general struggle for survival and the self’s indignation to sacrifice and death. This later view is a ‘romantic view’ and rather a romantic and simplified view of reality. Old Santiago of The Old Man and the Sea represents how Hemingway has returned to the central view of the human situation that of despair and the moral issues of strength, courage, and endurance. In this novel, Hemingway seems to be predominantly discussing ‘luck’ in the identification between man and fish. This view is almost primitive in its religious aspects as the conqueror and victim become one in the struggle between man and shark. This novel is a culmination of all the simplistic views that Hemingway has all along endorsed.

Hemingway’s Endorsement of the Simple

      Hemingway began endorsing the simplified life right from the time when he began writing short stories and poems. Avery's good example of simple life can be seen in the protagonist of Soldier's Home, Harold Biebs. Harold after returning from the war begins to drift into a life utterly purposeless but wholly satisfying to himself. He follows a routine of sleeping, reading, eating, and playing pool. As he lazes around thus, his mother expressed concern and forces him to decide to ‘get ahead’. “He had tried hard to keep his life from getting complicated”, he says and feels a strong reluctance to do anything to change his ultra-simple life, a life free from any kind of tension. A similar strain can be seen in Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms. He has no wish to recognize and have anything to do with words such as ‘courage, glory, sacrifice, etc.’ And Jack Barnes in The Sun Also Rises and Nick Adams in Big Two-Hearted River are also men quite content and happy with a life of fishing and swimming in isolation or with a single congenial partner. All the four heroes can find satisfaction in various degrees in a kind of alienation and isolation and a state of existence devoid of personal friction and intensity of emotion. This view as Hemingway puts it finds shades of similarity in the simple life as idealized by Rousseau, the philosopher.

      The readers of the twentieth century especially in the 1920s were greatly attracted by the simplified life as Hemingway put it across in the stories and novels. This was large because people in that age were exhausted by the strains of the First World War and longed for a quieter and less disturbing life. Hemingway could provide this for his readers. He took them from the dark atmosphere of gloom where tension and violence reigned to a world calm and peaceful, a world where the simple pleasures of food, drink, sex, hunting, fishing, athletics were the only elements to be accepted and teach the reader to act with a certain mode, good humor, certainty, and dignity. Consequently therefore Hemingway portrays characters who are simple forthright people. They are also a little bored and do not overreact even in the face of violent action such as boxing, bullfighting, and even if they do express any kind of feeling they are understated. This is one of the more acclaimed of Hemingway’s achievements that he can create a simplified world where all men’s needs are not adequately at an ultra-simple level.

Simplicity Combined with Realism

      However, Hemingway was not just an artist of simplicity. He was more in tune with reporting the real, the actual event seen through the eye. To Hemingway what was important was that the writer should know his real and actual feeling and should discriminate between these and the feelings that he is supposed to feel. The writer should write, about what happened in action. According to Hemingway the writer should see and hear and understand and then write when he finds something he truly knows and then again he should take care that he writes at the moment and “not too damned much after”. As a result of this philosophy, Hemingway’s prose is characterized by the texture of realism and the reader feels that the immediacy of first-hand experience is at his hands. This feeling of realism can be found in the passage describing the Caporetto Retreat in A Farewell to Arms, the description of the Fiesta in The Sun Also Rises, etc. Hemingway successfully recreates the event in the ‘way it was for the reader. Therefore it can be boldly said of Hemingway’s technique that it is a combination of simplicity and realism and not of neither alone.

Social Awareness

      During his career as a literary artist Hemingway at one point, sometime during the nineteen-thirties, began to show signs of having exhausted one literary vein, that of writing fiction. He seemed to be searching for another vein but could succeed partially He, therefore, began to avoid writing fiction for the time being. He wrote Death in the Afternoon (1932) which deals systematically with the art of bull-fighting in Spain. This book is rather a treatise on the subject. This was then followed by Green Hills of Africa (1935) which is again less fiction and more a blend of travelogue and essay on hunting big game. From this stage or period in his literary life, Hemingway went on to develop a more marked awareness of society. His earlier short stories and novels were characterized by a brooding mood and the individual was in many ways similar to himself. For example, Hemingway wrote in 1938, The Shows of Kilimanjaro which as usual like all Hemingway works dealt with an individual brooding, then he also wrote in 1837 the novel To Have and Have Not which dealt with with a man-Harry Morgan struggling during the days of the great American Depression. He struggles to survive anyhow, by any means. He smuggles liquor, Chinese men from Cuba, etc. Ultimately he is forced to even kill himself. In its subject matter, this novel shows a newfound social awareness in Hemingway, vague though it is. Hemingway translated his newfound social awareness into positive action when Fascism took over control in Europe and Civil War broke out in Spain between the Fascists and the Loyalists. He collected funds for ambulances and medical supplies and himself went to Spain as a war correspondent. Later his new interest found expression, but for the moment it remained incomplete. Its complete realization came in 1940 with the publication of For Whom the Bell Tolls again based on an incident that happened during the Spanish Civil War.

The Final Phase in His Career

      After the phase during which Hemingway showed a distinct social awareness, there came a phase when he reverted to his earlier attitude. This can be seen in the novel Across the River and into the Trees which came out in 1950. Like in his earliest novels when the human and masculine need to satisfy physical needs were dealt with, here also Hemingway deals with an old colonel on the verge of death and yet taking life by the throttle and living it through a round of hunting, fighting, sex, etc. Critics expressed doubts about his merit at this stage but when he came out with a small novel The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, silencing his critics and by chronicling the precision and skill in the art of fishing by the old fisherman Santiago who struggles heroically for three days and nights to catch the biggest marlin he ever saw. This novel firmly established Hemingway as an artist of true merit.

Details from Personal Life

      Hemingway is sometimes praised and sometimes criticized for filling 'his work with autobiographical details. Most of his work right from the Nick Adams stories to his novels ending with The Old Man and The Sea is filled with details from personal life to the extent that they read like a literal though discriminating, reproduction of bare experience. Hemingway was a writer of simplistic style and therefore it is natural that in his quest for material to write on thereby applying his skill, he would turn to that material most readily available, and here, in this case, his vast experience is personal life. However, Hemingway wouldn’t have been able to deal with a straight forward autobiographical work. Because on the one hand he is a simple craftsman and on the other hand his mind is of a negative and static quality. Because of these reasons Hemingway has to look for material at the level of pulp fiction. As he is not gifted either with psychological insight or the ability to transform and transmit a personal vision of experience through the creation of character. therefore he cannot be likened to a novelist of a more complex and active mentality. Hemingway views human life from a peculiar negative viewpoint. Therefore if at all he is not dealing with autobiography he is forced to project his vision through figures drawn from the lower strata of humanity. Thus Hemingway deals in autobiography or else with such characters as such overdrawn from a mechanical level where life is lived on the animal plane.

The Psychological Impact of Violence

      Another important element apart from the autobiographical element in his work is the element of violence. His fiction contains in great part, crude violent action which can be in many ways compared and likened to the kind of violence found in cheap ‘pulp’ fiction and magazines. But the writings of these ‘pulp’ fiction are to be differentiated. They are simply catering to a known consumer demand usually male-dominated consumers and therefore his work is usually devoid of psychological content and is rather mechanical. Hemingway on his part is a true artist consciously trying to achieve an artistic and aesthetic effect and is therefore very much involved in his work emotionally as well as psychologically. He doesn’t emphasize crude mechanical violence as found in cheap magazines. The violence that Hemingway depicts is always as should be natural and is always shown to have a psychological basis and the further emotional and psychological effect is made clear to the reader. We as readers are made to realize where, how, and why the need for violence arose and in this regard show his skill in portraying the emotion at the condition of his characters.

Mood of Nihilism

      Hemingway’s notion and his attitude as an artist, his style, language, etc. had all been already established at the moment he published his first volume of works in 1924, the collection of short stories In Our Time and which was republished in an American addition with other short stories added to it. Here, the short stories and sketches speak of various episodes and incidents in the life of man. These stories are interconnected to the point of being taken for a fragmentary novel. The short stories talk about Nick Adams, which in many ways resemble Hemingway himself and are set alternately between the American countryside, the Italian front during the First World War, and then the post-war scenario in America and Europe. The point to be noted however is the predominant mood running through the book. The mood conveyed is of nihilism, of nothingness, utter and total negation. This mood is honestly and scrupulously rendered and is predominant and in the light of it, even the action seems slight and subordinated.

Art of Characterization

      Hemingway in his portrayal of character tends to look at men rather as a thing or an object and less as a personality. He tends to deprive his characters of their inner life.

      Hemingway’s portrayal seems to follow a technique of thrusting his vision of life upon the plane of the external and the plane of extreme objectivization thereby alienating subject and experience. Such a portrayal can be seen in A Farewell to Arms where Henry on being refuted by the two sergeants on the issue of help to get the cars out of the mud and their consequent walking away simply takes his gun out and starts shooting at them. Another cause can be found in The Killers where the gangster explains that the intended victim was to be killed just to oblige a friend. Such an attitude reveals a cold and spiritless disgust of human life and a disdainful contempt of human values. Human beings are in this way reduced to the level of mere objects to the extent that killing a man is more or less a common day-to-day occurrence like eating and drinking. Therefore, Hemingway’s novels take the reader into a flat and chaotic world where everything becomes an object. It is a world where subjectivity or the element of inward analysis is completely absent and the man himself is nothing more than an object. These are mere objects inhabiting a world entirely devoid of significance because the inward-looking psychological aspect is completely absent. In conclusion therefore Hemingway’s characters are mere objects wherein the aspect of human existence cannot be discerned. As Lieutenant Frederic Henry was a man without religion, morality, politics, history or culture so are the other Hemingway’s characters.

Limited Development

      Such character portrayal, therefore, limits Hemingway’s development as a writer. It destroys the possibility of his growth as an organic and interesting writer. It seems that there is nothing but mechanical repetition in Hemingway’s world as the characters seem more or less the same going through violence, death, and despair. In all his books be it short stories or novels, the character seems repeated yet because of the lack of inner life there is no continuity on which a chronological sequence could have been based. In his progress as a writer therefore Hemingway doesn’t seem to show any coherent pattern of growth. His development if there is any is rather static and the pattern is fixed. In this way therefore it can be observed of Hemingway that though he is admittedly a man of great literary merit and endowed with artistic scrupulousness and poetic sense he is lacking in the other requirements of a great novelist. Intrinsically as a writer he is not very important but neither can his significance be denied.

Naturalistic View

      Hemingway’s art of writing is an expression of a naturalistic view of man and his art itself is the naturalistic way in art. This was basically because of his belief that a man’s happiness lay in the expression and fulfillment of his natural self. Man is part and parcel of nature but this is a hostile nature, and perverted in its expressions which take the form of volcanic war, storms where violence and cruelty dominate and perverted for being devoted to the destruction of its culture. To face this cruel world therefore man has two options. He can either develop stoic perseverance or else he can retire like a truth into a shell where he can either completely forget the existence of the external world or else become unaware of things deliberately or else he can take on a hedonistic attitude and a matter of attitude.

      One of Hemingway’s chief themes is an escape from the problems and tensions brought on by the lifestyle of the twentieth century into a life of relative laziness enjoying material and physical pleasures such as eating, drinking, hunting, fishing, bull-fighting, sex, and other means of asserting masculine pride and courage. Hemingway was mainly concerned with the above and so contrived story after story, novel after novel based on these and to express these primary and permanent values. Therefore he further produced incidents, characters, narratives to meet this requirement and further developed a terse and ironic style. Hemingway then was quite accomplished and though he never enjoyed mass appeal and popularity like say Dickens but his audience through selective had access to a new source of pleasure.

Sexuality and the Human Dilemma

      Sexuality and human dilemmas are two important elements observable in Hemingway’s works. Hemingway in his approach to sexuality and his portrayal of sexuality seem to overplay it and how he portrays sexual abandon is somewhat animalistic. For example the sleeping bag episode between Robert Jordan and Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls. In his treatment of human dilemma, he takes up rather than other novelists of repute seem to ignore. His manner of facing life is an uncompromising head-on attitude. Hemingway is one of the host clearcut novelists among his contemporaries though his subtlety cannot be placed on the same level.

Autobiographical Elements

      As mentioned earlier Hemingway depended on his background material on his own experiences from life. In his work, where his personal experiences are in excess then his work suffers. Hemingway had spent his early boyhood in Michigan hunting and fishing and leading a largely outdoor life to which his father had introduced him. His successive activities such as being a reporter, an ambulance driver during the war, then a war correspond, his injury, his life in Paris, in Spain all find expression in his novels.

Attitude in His Short Stories

      Hemingway began his literary career, with the publication of his collection Three Stories and Ten Poems and then In Our Time in 1923. His books are more than enough to establish him as a writer of brilliance who had mastered the art of objectivity and showed a hard-boiled attitude which was responsible for his worldwide fame. His characters are all tough men and women. Belonging to the ‘lost generation’ they are cynical intellectuals on one end of the scale or belonging to the other end of primitivism they are soldiers or else fishermen, hunters, bullfighters, pugilists, or criminals. They are placed favorably in contrast to the rest of the world which is hysterical, chaotic, and disordered while these men and women are shown to be of unwavering and unemotional fortitude. His short stories are also characterized by the fact that they are presented boldly and with understated rhetoric and dipped dialogue. In these short stories, he has displayed an attitude and a literary technique that marked his style throughout his literary career and firmly ensconced him as the chief spokesperson for the ‘lost generation’. These tough people who put their faith in physical courage and stoically accepted their fate and by this account Hemingway gives of their mode of behavior. He has given a realistic account of the post-war generation, their mood, and feeling of betrayal and disillusion.

The Various Novels and Their Main Concept

      The Sun Also Rises is a novel set in Paris and Spain is the story of a group of expatriates who lead a life of sensual pleasures and apart from the pursuit of the satisfaction of the senses they are all aimless in their life.

      In The Sun Also Rises other than the aimlessness portrait we can also observe how the aimlessness points to the fact that Hemingway had interpreted an era of disillusion, which was the era following the war and men could believe only in violence, rough sport, and carnal sex.

      In A Farewell to Arms, the tragedy is continued, only here the tragedy is of broken hopes. Lieutenant Frederic Henry is a man rootless and uncaring but as he begins to acquire hopes and wishes, he comes face to face with a world hostile and cruel which thwarts and destroys all his hopes, ultimately leaving Henry with nothing in his hands. With all-new hopes he had and might have built crushed.

      This, therefore, results in the belief that man cannot control their lives. They are controlled by the events in life. In his next novel To Have and Have Not, Hemingway displays a new turn, that of social awareness in turning to discuss the problem of the individual pitted against society. Harry Morgan is a driver. He commits criminal offences in a bid for survival, which activities escalate to the point that he commits murder, ultimately he is left with nothing as also being arrested by the law. The novel ends with Harry Morgan stating that “one man alone ain’t got—no chance”. This statement indicated Hemingway’s message to the people in the new era torn by war and the great American economic depression.

      By the time Hemingway wrote For Whom The Bell Tolls, the single individual struggling is no longer alone. He heads a group and fights to save the world as Robert Jordan heading the loyalist fights the fascist group in the Spanish Civil War. He is severely injured, he might die but ultimately the message he realizes is that the world is a world worth fighting for. Hemingway also implies that collective social action is necessary. Another message or idea that Hemingway strongly implies is that the loss of liberty in one place strongly damages the question of liberty everywhere and in so doing Hemingway imparts importance and urgency to the action of the Spanish loyalist.

      Across the River and Into the Trees was one novel that was severely and to a large extent rightly criticized. Though his style still showed his greatness and mastery over his mood of extreme bitterness and being defeated was unliked by him and attacked. This was quickly rectified, however. In two years, Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea came out. And this small novel about an old fisherman's heroic and tragic fight with the forces of nature manifested in his struggle with the marlin and the sharks turned out to be his most classic novel. The parable shows how man fights and struggles against forces hostile to him and though he may win he takes nothing home. The courage, dignity, and stoic endurance shown by the old man re-affirms Hemingway’s belief in man.

      Thus, we can conclude that Hemingway seems to have realized that human beings are given the choice of facing that which is inevitable with stoic calm or with hopeless despair. Even though everything seems to end in ‘Nada’ there is much to be desired is the choice of the individual to struggle and fight with fortitude. There, therefore, seems to be a romantic streak in him for all his proclaimed naturalism and realism.

A Writer of Philosophical Nature

      That Hemingway is a writer of philosophical and analytical nature can be seen from all his works but especially from his last novel The Old Man and the Sea. To read this novel is in itself a profound experience. Old Santiago’s struggle creates a sense of awe in the reader. And from his struggle and attitude towards the struggle and the result of the struggle can be gleaned Hemingway’s philosophy. Hemingway was both a naturalist and a realist. The former can be seen in his choice of subject, background, and presentation. The latter is evident in his prose and his dialogue both clear, lucid, and devoid of flowery extravaganza which therefore rendered it perfectly suitable to the subject of his choice the pursuit of sensual experience. That Hemingway is essentially philosophical might not be evident to the superficial reader. As he may be misled by the rough subjects that Hemingway chooses namely fishing, hunting, skiing, bullfighting, boxing, horse racing, and the violence of war. The reader should glean that Hemingway is interested not in presenting these outdoorish activities for their external charm but in presenting human life and to do so through setting man against the force of the world and then to examine him and his relation to the forces, forming the background, from various points of view. This technique creates a certain mystery in his works and shows Hemingway’s philosophical bent of mind.

Hemingway’s Concept of Courage

      Hemingway was always suspicious that the ultimate doom was around the corner, and yet he was extremely fond of being alive. His system of philosophy is therefore based on the concept of right and wrong. And for Hemingway’s heroes, the idea is the need to live life purposefully and carefully even though life may end in death and nothing.

      The idea is to live life to the fullest with emphasis on how may conduct himself. This can be seen in the statement made by Jack Barnes in The Sun Also Rises. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about. Hemingway’s work has a strong affinity with the works of the French Existentialist. The point of similarity is that like the Existentialist Hemingway is poised in his hours of despair on the edge of nothingness, most of his characters face this gulf of meaninglessness and nothingness. And then at his moment of hope looks forward to salvation which is to be constructed to a strict code of conduct. For Hemingway living well is important and more than that dying well is important too.

      Thus, at the end of A Farewell to Arms, we know that Frederic Henry shall not die but go on living with his newly acquired set of values. And in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Robert Jordan may be on the verge of dying but he shall not kill himself. The point is that in the death Hemingway enumerates for example Catherine Barkley, Jordan, they are shown as having died well because of this courage and fortitude in the face of death. This courage and fortitude even in the face of severe death, despair and defeat is best and most strongly shown by Santiago the old Cuban fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea. Here, Santiago in his struggle takes on the image of the crucifixion. Hemingway has dealt with the various faces of death in his entire oeuvre and has always emphasized how death hovers at every corner of man’s life and in a man’s life what is important is how man face that inevitable event that ends life.

Hemingway’s Pessimism

      However, analyzing his philosophy and his principle of courage, we can only say that Hemingway was highly pessimistic. Though he firmly believed that man had to live life to the fullest and face death courageously he was not a believer and was skeptical. Most of his characters are devoid of religion and even those who are devout disclaim their religiosity. Hemingway’s pessimistic attitude is clearly evident in the novel ‘A Farewell to Arms’ in the episode where Henry observes, but doesn’t do anything, some ants on a burning log running from one end to another trying to save themselves but ultimately falling into the fire and Henry’s act of throwing water at them ends up scorching then, in no way serves to relieve.

Hemingway’s Symbolism

      Before Malcolm Cowley in 1944 brought out Hemingway’s apparent symbolism critics were not much aware of his use of symbols. It was Cowley who pointed it out and suggested that Hemingway should be studied with the realist, rather he should be studied with the symbolist such as Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, etc. In A Farewell to Arms Hemingway has used such objects as the mountains and the plains as symbols. Here, the rain is a powerful symbol of death and destruction. In For Whom, the Bell Tolls the sleeping bag has been regarded as a symbol of the womb and in The Killers, the bottle of ketchup is a symbol of blood. Hemingway is also symbolic in his narrative method. He achieves this by creating characters who serve as symbols at various levels for example Catherine Barkley serves as a symbol of the normal life found at home. She suggests the warmth and simplicity and ideal of home life. It is to her that Frederic Henry comes after deserting the army. Santiago, the old Cuban fisherman represents the whole human race and his struggle against the marlin and then the sharks represent man’s struggle against the forces and the human struggle for survival in a hostile world. Then Jake Banners and his wound leave him impotent, serving as a symbol for the sterility and frustration that marks the post-world war era.

Hemingway’s Realism

      Hemingway’s realism is of a different kind that can be found in such writers of Zola. Hemingway’s kind of realism was defined as relating ‘What happened is action, what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced. His brand of realism was achieved through the depiction of a vast array of objective details that made up the background. Therefore, his novels are cluttered with small details that have no bearing on the theme or the progress of the novel. In The Sun Also Rises, when Jake Barnes introduces Brett to Pedro Romero the Matador, the turmoil within him is hinted at by his acute observation of the outside, which are consequential elements. His feelings are not overtly discussed. The following excerpt illustrates:

      When I came back and looked in the cafe, twenty minutes later Brett and Pedro Romero were gone. The coffee glasses and our three empty cognac glasses were on the table. The waiter came with a cloth and picked up the glasses and mopped off the table.

      The same can be found again and again in A Farewell to Arms. The most poignant is when Henry goes for breakfast while Catherine is battling for life due to a difficult delivery. Outside along the streets were the refuse cans from the houses waiting for the collector. A dog was nosing at one of the cans. “What do you want?” I asked and looked in the cane to see if there was anything I could pull out for him; there was nothing on top but coffee grounds, dust, and some dead flowers, “There isn’t anything, dog,” I said.

      This excerpt again clearly shows Henry’s state of mind.

Influences on Hemingway

      Europe was one of the major influences on Hemingway. Europe provided a basis for comparison and contrast with American life as also an objective analysis. Europe gave an artist the facilities of inexpensive living and escape from the pressures of society and family and the opportunity for complete privacy and participation in social life as and when desired. Hemingway spent the nineteen twenties in Paris. Here he discovered individual freedom and a sense of having escaped the nation of having to conform to a certain set of rules that the American society strictly imposed on individuals. Hemingway preferred the people who were unsophisticated and unconditioned by modern life while he was in Europe. He preferred those who lived life by instinct and through their traditional rites and rituals.

      However, while he was in Paris he associated with a group of men and women, headed by Gertrude Stein who was the group leading the art movement of the age. However, he did not allow himself to be influenced by these men and women or by any art form, theory, or movement through wherever he found details useful to himself he readily absorbed these. He was strongly against imitation and believed that it was the death toll for any artist. This explains why he ultimately turned his face on his teachers such as Sherwood and Gertrude Stein. He was a firm believer in the notion that one’s personal experience and perceptive awareness of his senses and experience was what was for a writer, most important.

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