Hemingway In one of the chapters in the book entitled “Hemingway” the author Leo Lania tries to explain Hemingway and his work. He explains that a key to understanding Hemingway can be found in the characters of his heroes and in their beliefs. The leading character “appears in various guises in the different novels and short stories but basically he is always the same type”(Lania8).Whether ordinary soldier or general, smuggler or gambler, Negro or journalist he is a man scarred by experience. He has always been gravely wounded, physically or mentally, either during the war, in the sports arena, during childhood, in fight for existence. At some time or other something terrible has happened to him and the memory persecutes him. Lania also explains that Hemmingway’s principal character is almost always an American from the Middle West. He is “no intellectual but his primitiveness is only a mask for his sensitivity. In order to master life he needs a moral code he can follow, a believe in certain rules by which to measure his behavior”(11). Neither books, reason nor religion can supply him with this belief. He needs to practical experience. Hemingway’s’ world is at war, “war either in the literal sense or the ruthless, brutal fight for existence”(11). In short stories Hemingway sums up his philosophy of life in one sentence: ‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated’ “the speaker is an old bullfighter who although overcomes, does not surrender and therefore proves the victor”(11). In another story a champion boxer provides a similar example. In his latest work, The Old Man and the Sea, the old Cuban fisherman triumphs through tenacity of his fight with the great fish, although in the end the sharks eat away his catch and deprive him of the reward for his indescribable sacrifice. This theme runs continuous through all of Hemingway’s works. “His outlook may be limited and incomplete, his conception of honor and heroes primitive, even childish”(12). The part played by women in Hemingway’s work is significant. That he handles sex without sentimentality that only strict moralists would hold against him. This was not only part of his poetic license but also an important contribution to our knowledge us. Hemingway’s lovers “have nothing in common either spiritually or intellectually, nor do they seek it”(14). They are not partners they are not even enemies. Their relationship is therefore neither exalted nor tragic.

More about Hemingway

Get Access