An Analysis of The End of Something

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An Analysis of The End of Something

One area of literature emphasized during the Modernist era was the inner struggle of every man. Novels written before the 20th century, such as Moll Flanders and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, dealt with external conflict, a conflict the reader could visualize in an action. Along with other writers of Bohemian Paris, Ernest Hemingway moved away from this process and began using outward actions as symbols for the inner conflict dwelling inside the protagonist. Hemingway's short story The End of Something is an example of how trite dialogue and simple descriptions accentuate the mental strife of the character Nick.

The story's plot is not complex: Nick and his girlfriend Marjorie are canoeing down a river they once knew as children. Once on the bank of the river, the two of them partake in the same activities but do them in silence. When Marjorie tries to begin a conversation, Nick is not responsive. Marjorie asks Nick if there is a problem, and Nick says he is not in love anymore. Marjorie then leaves, and the story ends with Nick lying down by himself while his friend Bill (who enters the story several sentences after Marjorie leaves) eats a sandwich while looking onto the river.

However basic the story's sequence is, Hemingway's literary innovations are dominant within the text. Through experimentation with tempo, language, and plot structure, Hemingway garners an emotional response out of the reader, leaving him shocked that so much content could be captured in so simple a story.

Most authors read at a relatively steady rate throughout their story, with dialogue sections running faster than descriptions. Hemingway breaks this conventional nature in The End of Something. The...

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...mes up and asks how things went with Nick. Hemingway quickly describes Bill's entrance, but ends the paragraph with "Bill didn't touch him, either." This one line is Hemingway's entire story; Marjorie felt like there was something between the two of them, while Nick wasn't touched. Hemingway re-emphasizes this in the last line of the story, when Bill takes a sandwich and looks at the fishing rods. While Nick is caught up in the moment and sad about what he did, Bill, representing Nick's life, is not moved.

The End of Something is a simple story about two youngsters breaking up. Its four-page length would lead some to believe the story to be light and easily something to glance at instead of thoroughly read. However, Hemingway does a wonderful job of turning the four pages about a common occurance into an event that any reader can feel and will never truly end.
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