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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Critical Analysis of Hemingway’s short story

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After I had studied Ernest Hemingway’s stories that are “A Clean Well Lighted Place”, “Indian Camp”, and “Hills Like White Elephants”, I felt that all of them interest me very much. To really understand these stories, I think the readers must have some knowledge of Hemingway. So I will explore which story is influenced by his life.


There are both different and similar parts in three stories that I would like to present. Also, I will show new ideas after I analyze them in detail again.


The influence of Hemingway’s life to his works


In “Indian Camp”, the story is only five pages long and cover a time only one night. But the readers can depict parts of the story which are influence by Hemingway’s life. The first example of how Hemingway took his past life in “Indian camp” is the description of Nick and his father and their relationship. Hemingway grew up in Oak Park, a middle class family. His parents were Ed and Grace Hemingway. Ed Hemingway was a doctor who sometimes took his son along medical trips across Walloon Lake to the Ojibway Indians during summer vacations( www.mps.k1.vt.us/msms/timeline.htm - 6k ). So these trips that taken by Ernest and Ed provide the background information about Nick and his father on their trip in “Indian camp”.


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In this story, Nick lays back into his father’s arms for a sense of security. When Nick encounters the death of Indian. His father is by his side to comfort him. From this I assume that Ernest and his father were very close like Nick and his father were. I also wonder about Nick’s mother why Nick does not have mother. Hemingway did not tell about their close mother-son relation. It’s probably that Hemingway would like to write this story only for his father, or he was close with father more than mother was.


However, I think Hemingway’s love for his own father is not always positive. In “Indian Camp”, Hemingway used the conversation between Nick and his father about the suicide of the Indian to show his distaste for his own father’s suicide.


“Why did he kill himself, Daddy?”


“I don’t know, Nick. He couldn’t stand things, I guess.”


“Do many men kill themselves, Daddy?”


“Not very many, Nick.”


“Is dying hard, Daddy?”


“No., I think it’s pretty easy, Nick. It all depends.”


I think Hemingway saw his father as a weak man. Ed committed suicide in 18 (http//www.lostgeneration.com/paris.htm). Hemingway used “Indian Camp” to express his feeling that his father was a coward. He wrote this by Nick’s father refer to suicide, as being “pretty easy” which is the way coward people choose. Thus, Hemingway used the story to portray his father’s death as coward.


The same as “A Clean Well Lighted Place”. This story was late and everyone has left the caf� except an old man sat in the shadow of the tree that against the electricity. The old man, who maybe a reflection of Hemingway’s own writhing in caf� in Paris. I think that it is also possible to see Hemingway in this story. The old man is someone that has become success by society’s standards. “He had plenty of money.”, but not by his own. The old man is rich just as Hemingway was famous.


The similar part of three stories


Ernest Hemingway is well known both in his life and his work. He lived in an extremely world- a world of war hunting and bullfights. Because of his own character, he invented a concept known as “The code hero” or “Hemingway hero”. These heroes had almost always been a man (www.hemingway.org/life/biographies.html ). In “Indian Camp” and “A Clean Well Lighted Place”, there are both Hemingway’s hero. The boy, Nick accompanies his father and his Uncle George to an Indian Camp. In this journey he knows the truth in life that u death is always present. I think it becomes the hero’s task to accept it. Death is called by various names like nada or nothingness that most people who must face with it like the old man in the caf�. The characters whom Hemingway is most sympathetic are those who are grace under pressure of an awareness of death just like Nick and the old man in caf�.


However, In Hemingway’s short story, “Hills like White Elephants” we discover a female character, Jig. She is just a girl who has to face with pain and suffering in the most difficult situations. In this story the man and the girl are in extremely tense situation. She is pregnant and he wants her to have an abortion. They are discussing a life and death situation. I think Jig was one of the Hemingway’s heroes but she is a woman. True heroes show courage in all aspects of their life. In this story, Jig is the courageous one. She is willing to call the situation what it is to speak out their superficial relationship. “That’s all we do isn’t it �look at things and try new drinks?” It seems that she is brave enough t go through with the pregnancy while he is too selfish and scary. “But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else.” He is the one trying to build up her courage to have the operation.


In addition, all of three stories, Hemingway uses dialogue. It goes to show how much we can learn from characters just by the way they talk or what they say. In “Hills like White Elephants” the narrative is all dialogue between Jig and the American man. For “Clean Well Lighted Place” is the conversation between the old waiter and the young one. The author omits to use guide in dialogue, so the reader has to decide that the speaker is the young waiter or the old waiter. But the dialogue guide is unnecessary because each sentence shows the two very different attitudes. Also” Indian Camp” Nick, his father, and Uncle George were talking to each other almost all story.


Different idea from different story


When the reader analyze texts, it is neither right or wrong because it is up to each perception of people. There is one more idea that we can get from short stories. The more you read. The more idea you get.


In “Hills like White Elephants” I don’t think that the man is as horrible as some people think he is. He just did it like other married men maybe did in this situation. After all, Jig is stated as “The girl” and he is stated as “The man”. So I think that the man probably married. I believe that the man have already had his own family because I base this on the way Hemingway named him. He called him a man. For me this means he is probably a well-established man in society. So I think this is it’s possible that the American is either married or dealing with someone else. The reason why the man tries to persuade Jig to the abortion because he knows that it would be the best thing for both of them. She probably is the girl of easy virtue. He does not truly love Jig. If not, he will never want her to have the abortion. Then Jig got pregnant. She says that she does not care about herself. That means she cares about him, but not herself. She is just trying to make him feel guilty. She thinks if she must go through the abortion, it will be because of him, not her. She probably realizes that the only thing keeping the man staying her right now is the baby. Although the man prefers her to have abortion, he says that the final decision is up to her. In the beginning of the story, the girl is sitting in the dry country and overlooking the hills. “They look like white elephants” I believe that white elephants are very rare animal and should be appreciates if we have seen them. Moreover, according to Buddhist text, before the Lord Buddha was born, his mother dreamed that a white elephant came to present her with lotus, the symbol of purity and knowledge. So I think she doesn’t want to have abortion, and this is why when the man said he had never seen a white elephant before she sarcastically said, “No you wouldn’t have.” So I think we cannot always interpret based on slang “white elephant” that may be unrelated.


In “Indian Camp” I think it is more than the boy learns the journey of life because it is full with ethical problem. The first is a cruel sequence of medical events. Is it good that the father forces his son to become a part of a cruelness of medical events? Is he too young to see blood steams down from Indian woman’s body and a knife covered in blood? Moreover, I think Nick’s father treats Indian woman as if she is animal. It is just because his race is different from hers. He operates by only a pen knife and fishing leader as his instrument and no anesthesia for the Indian woman. No doubt the woman will cry of terrible pain. “Oh Daddy, can’t you give her something to make her stop screaming?” asked Nick. “No. I haven’t any anaesthetic,” his father said. “But her screams are not important. I don’t hear them because they are not important.” After that, the doctor is proud of himself about his success in surgeon and discovers that the woman’s husband has silently cut his own throat. It is probably that he is unable to tolerate his wife’s pain and the racism of the white visitors. Although the medical treatment could save life of both woman and her child, but I think there is the cruelness of two white men that brings about the unnecessary death of the father. Therefore, the way doctor acts to children and to patients is immorality, racism and sexism.


For “Clean Well Lighted Place” The old man does not what to go his home, but still be in caf�, just like what the old waiter want. Many readers will sympathize with them, but not for me. I think the reason why they are unhappy and lonely, it is because they are greedy for everything. The old man had already have everything; niece who looks after him, plenty of money, wife. But he himself probably also thinks that both his niece and his wife don’t care about him and all of this is not enough for his desire. He wants more and more. Thus, he once killed himself and prefers to spend time at caf� alone to be sarcastic his life. Also, I believe that the old waiter envy the young waiter because the younger has confidence, youth and job but the older waiters says he never had confidence and is no longer young. He wants to be young again and is not satisfied at his own age at this moment.


Clearly, we cannot deny that some knowledge about the author’s life is meaningful to understand the story. Because if the character in a story a little disturbed, then we tend to think the author may have a problem. These two point always tie to each other. Also, the idea that a person may read a story and pick up different message that depends on their mood at the time they read.





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