Earnest Hemingway, the literary genius of the late 1800s produced volumes upon volumes of both poetry and fiction. After a short and very fruitful life Hemingway committed suicide but failed to succeed in initial attempts. Later, he finally succumbed to the great equalizer – death.
Some people have surmised that Hemingway left clues to his unlikely demise in his fiction, however, “suicide cut the strings before they were painfully drawn out; Hemingway attempted to suck life dry of anything and everything he could fathom” (Gunsberg, 1995) This basically means that Hemingway believed that it was necessary to experience everything, even death, to enrich his art and craft.
Although Hemingway committed suicide, and although many of his work focuses on death and suicide, it would be grossly unfair to conclude that he foretold his suicide in his fiction because this would be underestimating the power of the writer and his genius. A brilliant writer like Hemingway used his fiction as a form of exploration of the human condition and not as a reflection of his own condition.
It would be very presumptuous to suppose that Hemingway used his fiction to foretell his suicide as many writers and literaturists would agree that although literature is a means of exposing internal emotions, it is also a means of release; hence, Hemingway’s fiction is more of an illustration of his literary genius than they are, as most would suppose, cries of help of a man in pain. Therefore, Hemingway’s fiction could not be considered his suicide notes.
For instance, in the story ‘Indian Camp’ (Hemingway), the author does narrate an instance where the Indian Father commits suicide, (Hemingway) but this is simply used as a platform for the issue of emancipation from pain as illustrated by the contrasting incident of the Indian Mother who is professionally attended to by Dr. Adams who stops her pain and successfully delivers her baby. (Hemingway) In this particular story, it is not so much the suicide that is the issue but the prospect of hope and new beginnings that takes center stage.
Another story where suicide is tackled is ‘A Clean and Well Lighted Place’ (Hemingway) where Hemingway portrays the pain of old age suffered by a deaf old man (Hemingway). In this particular story, there is an incident where the old man attempts to commit suicide by hanging himself, but the noose is cut by his niece and foils his attempt. (Hemingway) The story, albeit tackling suicide in one of its details does not necessary give much value to this issue, it even illustrates how one cannot escape the pains that accompanies life; that not even death can release us humans from what we have to deal with in life.
So, if carefully considered, this particular story does not actually vindicate Hemingway’s own suicide, in fact it even serves to sissify his own attempt by indirectly implying that if the author believed that suicide was not a means of ending the suffering of existence as shown in his fiction, then he would have been a great coward to commit what he was writing against. Hemingway did not use his stories as a platform for the justification of his own suicide; he had his own reason’s for his suicide, and those reasons are not in any way connected to his stories.
Finally, in ‘Hills like White Elephants’ (Hemingway) the author tackles the issue of abortion with a couple arguing over whether to have it (the baby) or not; the man insisting of having an abortion and the woman, subtlely indicating that she would like to have the baby. (Hemingway) Although there is no reference to suicide in this particular Hemingway story, what is obvious is the argument between two people regarding the issue of ending a life, which, by the way, is not really an argument that you would normally hear from ordinary chat.
In this story, Hemingway, again, although, very discreetly, makes references to why life should be valued and why it should be considered with utmost respect, even going to the extent of contrasting childbirth with happiness. (Hemingway) Easily, from this story it is immediately evident that the author was against any form of taking away life intentionally, and so totally debunks the assumption that his fiction was an indirect indication of his consequent suicide. If such is the case, then it can be easily concluded that Hemingway committed suicide for a higher reason; this being related to the progress of his art and craft.
Like many other writers who had grappled with the peculiarities of life, Hemingway was no different; and like many other creative writers then and now, it has to be considered that art, in any form, is already a means of airing out recluse emotions; it is a release that is even perhaps more effective than death itself. Hemingway, like many other artists during his time, had peculiarities of his own, and what most of these writers had in common was the ability to use the human condition as a platform in their work.
While many of Hemingway’s stories talked about suicide, it has first to be understood that the author is not necessarily the ‘I’ in any of his/her work, and so it would be terribly unfair to affine subject matters in Hemingway’s stories to his actual existence. The relationship of the author to his story ends with his by-line; all the other things in the written work should be set apart from the author. It is very elementary to assume that the author only writes about his/her own personal life because, then, creativity would not have as big a role in literature as it is supposed to have.
What could be more accurate, however, is the fact that the literary genius of Hemingway was enough for people who read his work to assume that he was foretelling his own suicide. While this assumption is blatantly misdirected, it simply shows how a writer is able to twist and distort the minds of his readers to think that there is much more to his fiction than meets the eye (or mind). If such is the case, then every reader might as well apply for a position at the Vatican interpreting the ancient Dead Sea scrolls. Works Cited Gunsberg, Ben.
“Earnest Hemingway: Would Be King. ” Earnest Hemingway. 18 Dec. 1995. 16 Apr. 2009 <http://www. users. muohio. edu/shermalw/honors_2001_fall/honors_papers_2000/gunsberg. html>. Hemingway, Earnest . “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. ” Earnest Hemingway. 1999. 16 Apr. 2009. Hemingway, Earnest . “Hills Like White Elephants. ” Earnest Hemingway. 1999. 16 Apr. 2009 <http://www. moonstar. com/~acpjr/Blackboard/Common/Stories/WhiteElephants. html>. Hemingway, Earnest . “Indian Camp. ” Earnest Hemingway. 1999. 16 Apr. 2009 <http://amb. cult. bg/american/4/hemingway/camp. htm>.
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