Alcohol and its Effects on Social Behavior

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Alcohol and its Effects on Social Behavior

The characters in Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Garden of Eden, exhibit an interesting social behavior throughout the story in their frequent consumption of various types of alcoholic beverages. The character David Bourne especially seems to have one or two drinks often before ordering food when out at the French café near their hotel, regardless of the present time of day. The behavior of these characters, by modern society’s standards, places them in a class of heavy social drinkers, but this may not have been Hemingway’s intention at the time when the novel was written. It is most appropriate, therefore, to discuss the specific drinks mentioned in the text independently of the specific situation, but simply in the context of class and society in general.

The established historian and literary critic Hippolyte Taine once made the valid observation, “Alcohol is the literature of the people” (Haine 100). She uses this idea to show the strong correlation between a simple commodity and its profound effects on the people and issues of a larger society. The emergence of frequent alcohol consumption is first seen in the upper classes and royalty because these people not only have the time to devote to this form of leisure, but they possess the money to finance these habits as well (Haine). This image of a luxurious aristocratic lifestyle appeals to all other members of society who, in turn, wish to emulate this behavior themselves. The idea of alcohol use as a fashion is the stimulus that causes its practice to spread throughout all levels of society.

The upper class may be where the practice of regular alcohol consumption originates, but the working class is the group of peo...

... middle of paper ... Inc. 16 Nov 2002 <>. This article is a post by someone who has tried the alternate (legal) versions of absinthe and it provides descriptions of the drink and some of its effects.

Haine, W. Scott. The World of the Paris Café: Sociability among the French Working Class, 1789-1914. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. This book is extremely interesting and helpful because it provides insight into how drinking was different for members of each class and the trends in social behavior.

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Domesticating Drink: Women, Men, and Alcohol in America, 1870-1940. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. This book provided a resource on the traditional gender roles of alcohol consumption and the changes that were seen overtime in these positions.
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