This short story is one of the stories in Men Without Women, written by Ernest Hemingway, an American writer. I started to love every Hemingway’s short story since I reached this semester especially this short story, which is tells about boxing that is one of my favorite sport. I think Hemingway was a man’s man. He wrote everything covered both things that happened in World War I and World War II, he had deep-sea stories, he liked to tell about himself, every journey he had done and using I which is refered to his main character of his stories that could make people who never read his stories would think that I, refered to Hemingway itself. He removes himself from the role of narrator. The stories are almost wholly composed of dialogue. One must engage him or herself in the narratives and ignite his or her imagination to understand the emotional core of each of these stories. Hemingway expects us to.
Back to the topic, I am going to give a short review first about this story before I work on my paper. This short story tells us about an aging-boxing champ named Jack Brennan who did his last fight against Jim Walcott, a fresh-young boxer. Jack trained by Jerry Doyle, the narrator itself, and also the only closest friend that Jack had. Jack suffered a great insomnia, how he missed his wife and decided this fight against Jim Walcott will be the last fight for him. Jack knew he can’t stand against Walcott because he is too old to beat a young boxer like Walcott. But the only problem which took my attention starts from here when Jack’s manager, John and a couple of friends with him (we finally knew that both strangers are Morgan and Steinfelt), visited him at Hogan’s health ranch but Jack wasn’t there. He was in his room. Then Jerry, John and his friends went to Jack’s room. They knocked the door but there was not an answer from Jack.
So John turned the handle and went in to the room with others. After they met each other and some dialogue between them, John asked Jerry to Jerry to find Hogan because they want to see him but Jack forbade him to go. But Jerry did not listen to Jack. When Jerry left the room, I think there is important part which is missing. If we go further of this short story we can find a moment when Jack got drunk and told Jerry that he bet $50,000 against himself and tried to lose intentionally against Walcott. Yes, he tried to lose intentionally in his last fight. It was so irrational. I think we, as readers, have missed the important part of this short or probably the narrator deliberately omit that part, the reason why Jack changed his mind. I do not think that he was too old to keep his bet as the only reason why. I am sure there must be something when Jerry left the Jack’s room between Jack, John, Jack’s manager and his friends in there. John and his friends must have said something to Jack and made him change his mind even bet against himself. I try to find out what happened out there on internet.
I try to find the missing puzzle in this short story but I get nothing. If we think that Jack was too old to beat Walcott, a fresh-young boxer, why he didn’t decide not to fight from beginning? Why he told Jerry to put a bet on Walcott after he met John and his friends? I used to think that because he never slept at night, how he missed his wife so much and he was getting tired with all of these things then he told his problems to John and his friends that he would make an easy last fight. But no, that is irrational reason if you read the whole story. You will find that Jack stays until final round. That is not make a sense if he would intentionally to lose the game.
And why he put so many punches on Walcott and made him bleeding bad and suffered all the time if Jack wanted to lose the game? The fight itself went very tight. Jack controlled the beginning of the game. Then he became slower since the seventh round. Walcott took over the whole game while Jack tried to block every punch from Walcott. Sounds strange enough to me why did he keep the game on? He could say give up, though. I think Jack pride at stake here. He must decide what is more important, lose his bet or his belt. Maybe that is the reason why he survived so far. Altough we know, in the end Jack made a foul to Walcott and is disqualified. From this quote (which was Jack said):
“I think I can last. I don’t want this bohunk to stop me.” He must be thinking about something just to finish this fight before the game ends. No matter how. I think Jack thought so. And take a look at this quote:
“He (means Jack) certainly did used to make the fellows he fought hate boxing. That was why he hated Richie Lewis so. He never got Richie’s goat. Richie Lewis always had about three new dirty things Jack could not do. Jack was as safe as a church all the time he was in there, as long as he was strong.” I will underlined this statement: “Richie Lewis always had about three new dirty things Jack could not do. That was why he hated him so much.” And if we go back to the game between Jack and Walcott. I think he had prepared well for this “dirty thing” before the gong of the last round rang. He had prepared to do something bad to finish this fight because he told Jerry and John that he knew he could not stand any longer in this match. And perhaps he had made a decision or had knew the good answer about what he had to choose between his belt or his bet. So that was why he made a foul to Walcott and is disqualified. That is the only thing I thought why Jack keep fighting instead quit before the fight begins. Perhaps he wanted to show a great last fight to the world before he retired.
But if he thought so, the foul that he made to Walcott was made people want to slap on his face and turned him as mediocre boxer because of it. So what was he thought? This is so interesting. This thing will be another problem to solve. If the narrator deliberately omit that part or did not want to tell what makes Jack bet against himself, the most understanding thing is because the narrator wants to show us that this short story that he narrate based on what he saw, heard and has happened is the truth. He did not need to tell us the things that he did not know. He would not tell lies. So at that stage when the narrator left the Jack’s room then tried to find where Hogan was, he really did not what happened in there. And we, as readers, did not for sure what happened in there because he did not tell us. And it makes a lot of interpretation. What did they do? Perhaps John, Jack’s manager, or his friends came to Hogan’s ranch to persuade Jack to lose intentionally and offered him some money then Jack accepted because he knew from the first even if he tries his best he still can not beat Walcott, a younger and strong boxer.
If yes, that was why he made a foul to Walcott. The only question why did he keep the game on? Why did he stand until final round? Why he did not he do that dirty thing from the start? What if Steinfelt and Morgan conspire with John bribe to Jack to fix the fight? I think that is the characteristic of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories. That is why he likes to put I as the first person perspective in some of his stories to engage us as readers to feel what the narrator feels, to see what the narrator sees, makes us like we were there. I think Fifty Grand is narrated by what might be called a highly colloquialized narrator. The use of a highly colloquialized narrator in Fifty Grand has several effects on the story.
For one thing, as the reader grows accustomed to Jerry Doyle’s manner of speaking, he became more fully involved than he might be otherwise in the world in which Jerry lives. Jerry Doyle seems knowledgeable about prize fighting not only because he works as a trainer, but because his way of speaking causes him to sound the way a man who knows about boxing ought to sound. The choice of Jerry Doyle as the witness narrator for Fifty Grand is useful in ways unrelated to the trainer’s manner of speaking.
For one thing, Jerry’s narrating allows the reader to be a man on the inside. Much of the effect of this story results from the fact that the reader receives a ‘behind-the-scenes view of the stinginess, the domestication, and the overall unferociousness of a man the public believes is a brutal and hardened fighter. The importance of the reader’s proximity to the action of Fifty Grand is particularly evident on the night of the big fight. When Jack Brennan climbs up to get in the ring, Jerry describes how Walcott comes over and pushes the rope down for Jack to go through
“So you’re going to be one of these popular champions,” Jack says to him. “Take your goddam hand off my shoulder.”
“Be yourself,” Walcott says.
This is all great for the crowd. How gentlemanly the boys are before the fight. How they wish each other luck.
The reader’s enjoyment of this scene results in large measure from his knowledge that he has information about what is going on which the rest of the spectators at the fight do not have. The moment of Jack Brennan’s realization that he must lose the fight works much the same way. What appears to the audience a vicious low blow that was a foul is understood by Jerry, and thus by the reader, as the desperate action of a threatened bread-winner. Although Jerry Doyle’s manner of speaking and his special involvement in what is going on cause the reader to be interested in him as a character, Jack Brennan consistently remains the story’s central concern. The way in which Jerry is developed, in fact, helps to maintain the story’s focus on the Irish boxer. For one thing, Jerry Doyle, as the narrator, did not tell the reader much about his own thoughts and emotions.
Generally, his reactions to the things that he sees are simple and obvious and in no way attract the reader’s attention. Jerry’s personal comments nearly always support rather than modify the picture of events which his narration sets up. For example, when Jerry says that Jack is sore, he does so just after the reader has seen Jack’s anger for himself. The reader’s primary focus on Jack Brennan is also maintained by the story’s creation of a special kind of presentness, a presentness which results from what can be thought of as a double disappearance of the story’s narrator. In the first place, Jerry Doyle is invisible as a narrator in the act of telling a story.
Nothing in the story suggests that Jerry is reminiscing about events from a point in time after Jack’s fight with Walcott. On the contrary, the events of the story seem to be related without the intervention of a narrating present. A second kind of disappearance results from the fact that during the acting present when Jerry is in conversation with other characters, he frequently ceases to be distinguishable even as the overall observer of events. In the following conversation, for example, it is impossible for the reader to tell that one of the speakers is narrating the story:
“You know,” he (refered to Jack) says, “you ain’t got any idea how I miss the wife.” “Sure.” “You ain’t got any idea. You can’t have an idea what it’s like” “It ought to be better out in the country than in the town.” “With me now,” Jack said, “it don’t make any difference where I am. You can’t have any idea what it’s like.” “Have another drink.”
“Am I getting soused? Do I talk funny?”
“You’re coming on all right.”
“You can’t have any idea what it’s like. They ain’t anybody can have an idea what it’s like.”
The use of the present tense at the beginning of the exchange does suggest that an involved narrator is telling the story, but the present tense is used so frequently during conversations in Fifty Grand that it ceases to be particularly noticeable. During longer exchanges the narrator identifies his words with “I said,” but he rarely elaborates on this identification and as a result, the “I” fails to actract attention any more than “he” would. When the narrator “disappears” from large portions of a story or a novel, as is the case in Fifty Grand, the overall result is the creation of a narrative which is both involved and dramatic.
In general, those effects which are achieved by means of narrative perspective result from the types of inter-relationships which are created between narrators and the reader and between narrators and the events he narrate. The relationship between the narrator of story a story and the situations he presents to us, the readers, can be of a great many kinds. In Fifty Grand, Hemingway renders the narrator, which is Jerry Doyle, almost invisible, enabling us, the reader, to look through the narrating present and focus our attention directly on the events of the narrator’s story. The position of the narrator itself is primarily important as frame for the presentation of character other than himself.
Courtney from Study Moose
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