If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that 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. The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. (Rosen 2009, Hemingway 1964)
In the Soldier’s Home, Harold Krebs comes home a year later than most of his comrades from World War I and the story’s greatest omission seems to be in regard to his unseen father and an exact description of what brought Krebs to his current state. In a closer reading it is the unnamed women in Solider’s Home who seem to float like icebergs in Krebs world; they are there, but the vast majority is under the surface and undescribed (Moreland, 2000). This iceberg or omission writing style allows Hemingway to speak to several audiences at once and in this work to tease the specter that Krebs loved and lost someone in Germany, that some American soldiers may have participated in or at least stood by while German and possibly French women were raped and tortured, or less violently, left behind a pregnant ...
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...erpretation, that the son is so ashamed of himself that he can’t bear to see his father lest his father suspect his shame.
As a literary technique, what’s unsaid allows the reader to fill in the blank both at the initial reading and then with some later thought and perhaps a re-reading. Using this technique, Hemingway can write to the actual soldiers, the soldier’s family, and to the vast public who is ignorant of what actually lies beneath. He can claim great wisdom as those who follow him attempt to glean the meaning from what he wrote, laugh at what is injected into his prose, and hide his own superficial feelings. Of course that’s the rub. Hemingway would not have written it if it didn’t mean something to him so in the writing he tells us to focus on the literary iceberg, but here I am underneath, hidden from direct examination, but there nevertheless.
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