Ernest Miller Hemingway was considered one of the great American authors of the 20th century. Hemingway’s unique style of writing set him apart from other authors of this time and of today. He influenced many generations of authors with his style of using powerful, precise words. He used few adjectives, simple verbs, and short sentences in his works. Hemingway believed that his writing should be based on knowledge that he had acquired on a particular subject through his own personal life.
In a passage from Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, he wrote “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. ” This is in fact why Hemingway wrote most of his novels and stories in the first person point of view. Hemingway was also known for the dialogue he wrote between his characters. This allowed the reader to see his character’s emotions and inner thoughts.
Ernest Hemingway’s style challenged readers to look below the surface for the meaning of his words. This was known as the “Iceberg Theory” because the tip of an iceberg is the only visible portion above the sea while the largest part is far below the sea. The “Hemingway hero”, a male character who faces violence and destruction with courage, and the “Hemingway code”, unemotional behavior in difficult and dangerous situations, were also trademarks of Hemingway’s style. To better understand Ernest Hemingway as an author, one must first look at Hemingway as a person. Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899 in Illinois.
As a young boy, Hemingway enjoyed hunting and fishing at the family cabin in rural Michigan. These outings allowed him to gain appreciation for Mother Nature, and to look for adventure in many parts of the world. This love of the outdoors was reflected in many of his writings, such as The Green Hills of Africa published in 1935. During Hemingway’s high school years, he was editor of the school newspaper. This was the beginning of his writing career. Shortly after graduation, Hemingway went into battle during World War I, where he was an ambulance driver. He became injured and returned to Illinois where he
landed a job with the Toronto Star. He became a war correspondent, moved to Paris, and got the opportunity to interview many European political leaders, such as Mussolini. These two events influenced Hemingway to write his first best-seller, A Farewell to Arms, in 1929. Hemingway’s job, a reporter and journalist, required him to write short and to-the-point articles, which was how he wrote as an author. In 1929, this style of writing led Hemingway to write and publish his first work, Three Stories and Ten Poems. Hemingway the author was born. Ernest Hemingway was married four times.
The first two marriages failed because Hemingway was unhappy, the third failed because his wife was unhappy, and the fourth continued until the end of Hemingway’s life. Hemingway never had a female as the main character in his works. In 1939, Hemingway’s father committed suicide after battling high blood pressure and diabetes for many years. The painful experience of his father’s death influenced the novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway moved to Cuba in 1945 where he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, a novel about an old fisherman who battled a giant marlin and the sea.
This novel won Hemingway a Pulitzer Prize. In 1954, this novel also won Ernest Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature. He could not attend the ceremonies because of injuries he received in a near fatal plane crash. Hemingway was forced to move back to the United States in 1960 because of the communist movement led by Fidel Castro. Hemingway’s health began to deteriate. His injuries from the plane crash prevented him from enjoying his love for the outdoors and his love for writing. Hemingway sank into a state of depression and shot himself, just as his father had done some years earlier.
Hemingway had several unfinished works, such as The Garden of Eden and A Moveable Feast, which were published to satisfy the reading public who longed for more of his great style of writing. “Hills Like White Elephants” and “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” were two short stories written by Ernest Hemingway during his career as an author. They both show Hemingway’s ability to entertain the reader with his short, simple well-known style, along with a bit of Hemingway’s personal beliefs and life. They are short on words, as a journalist would write, but not on the themes, that Hemingway the author wanted to convey to the reader.
“Hills Like White Elephants” was a story about a girl and an American male who were discussing the fate of their unborn child. The story took place in a bar or cafe in Spain. Hemingway made the reader look for the true meaning of the story starting with the title by using symbolism. The story had nothing to do with “hills” or “white elephants”, but Hemingway’s choice of words and his use of dialogue between the two people soon guided the reader to realize that the title represented the real problem being dealt with by the girl and the American.
The “hills” represented the two choices, or decisions, the girl had to make, either keep the baby alive in her womb or have an abortion. The “hills” might also have represented the difficulties of relationships. One hill is described as “fields of grain and trees”, or fertile, while the other is described as “having no shade and no trees”, or barren. The “white elephant” symbolized the mystery of what life had to offer, or something that nobody wanted–the baby. The dialogue used between the girl and the American showed the reader that the relationship was strained, “Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.
“The American also tried to get the girl to see things his way by saying that the abortion he wanted her to have “is perfectly simple. ” The story was typical of Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory”. There was more going on in the story than just a conversation at a bar. The story was also a bit different from most of Hemingway’s other works. He seemed to have made the girl more superior than the male, more like a “Hemingway hero”, and also allowed her to display the “Hemingway code”, ” I feel fine. “, even though she was faced with a big decision in her life-one that could change it no matter what she chose.
“A Clean Well-Lighted Place” was a story about an old man, a young waiter, and an old waiter. This story also took place in a bar in some Spanish speaking country. The story dealt with the light inside the cafe and the darkness inside the old man. The cafe was a place the old man could escape the darkness, boredom, and nothingness-the” Nada”, of his life. It is well lit and represented a place the old man could seek comfort. Hemingway used this character to demonstrate that “darkness”, or death, awaits us all.
Again, He used dialogue to let the reader see how the characters emotionally felt. The young waiter was aggravated by the old man’s presence and said, “I wish he would go home. ” Hemingway did not give the characters in this short story names because that was not necessary information for the reader. The reader only needed to feel the ideas in the story, Hemingway believed that it was not his name that was important but his words in his works. His concise wording gave the reader a chance to see his characters personalities.
The young waiter stated that “An old man is a nasty thing. ” which showed the reader that he had very little respect for the aging. During Hemingway’s final years, he resembled the old man in the cafe. Both were depressed and Hemingway wrote that he “tried to commit suicide”. The only difference between them was the old man did not succeed and Hemingway did. This story was also typical of his “Iceberg Theory”. There was much more going on in the bar than just people drinking. The old man also demonstrated the “Hemingway hero” and the “Hemingway code”.
He faced death with courage and tried to show little or no emotion about his life ending. Many criticized Ernest Hemingway for his personal and sometimes less than perfect lifestyle, but very few critics can find fault in his literary works. They are works of a brilliant author who was very skilled at what he loved to do—write. According to the July 7, 1999 issue of Time Magazine, Ernest Hemingway deserved the Nobel Prize for Literature and “the trumpets of fame” that went with this prestigious honor. He received this award for his best selling novel, The Old Man and the Sea.
“He broke the bounds of American writing, enriched U. S. Literature ?. and showed new ways to new generations of writers. ” He was only one of five other American born writers to receive this honor. It also stated that Hemingway wrote this novel “over 200 times” before he felt it was ready for publication and that perhaps he was his own “best critic”. The words Hemingway wrote were described as “?. an organic being of their own. Every syllable counts toward a stimulating, entrancing experience of magic” and “fibrous and athletic, colloquial and fresh, hard and clean”.
Ernest Hemingway was referred to as “an artist and brilliant with whatever words he chose to paint with. ” Ernest Hemingway was a very interesting person and an enriching author. I enjoyed reading and studying the two short stories, “Hills Like White Elephants” and “A Clean Well-Lighted Place”. His style of using dialogue, symbolism, and concise wording made these works a challenge? but a challenge I liked. Hemingway worked timelessly to perfect his writing so that it could be appreciated by readers of all ages? even those of us who thought literature was not for them.
Bibliography “Ernest (Miller) Hemingway. ” DISCovering Authors. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center. Thomson Gale. 12 April 2007< http://galenet. galegroup. com/servlet/SRC> Hunt, Douglas. The Riverside Anthology of Literature. Dallas: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991. Kramer, Victor A. “Hemingway, Ernest. ” World Book Online Reference Center. 2007. 12 April 2007. Kunitz, Stanley J. Twentieth Century Authors. New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1955. Segall, Mary T. Portals. Philadelphia: Harcourt Brace College, 1999.