Hemingway's A Moveable Feast

Hemingway's A Moveable Feast

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Hemingway's A Moveable Feast


"A work of literature embodies a comment on human values-on what is good or bad in human nature and human conduct, on what attitude one may take finally, toward life and the business of living." This statement can be attributed to Hemingway's A Moveable Feast because, throughout the novel, many values are suggested and are eventually developed into an acceptable code for living.

The first element of this code is an emphasis on the value of self-discipline. Hemingway, a character in the novel, says, "Up in that room I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline" (12). This determination to discipline oneself is a value that grows out of a man's inner nature. Unlike the values of loyalty, honesty, and courage, that may waver and finally succumb to outside pressures, a man's self-discipline will always remain constant; it is, therefore, given much importance throughout the novel. Another example of the incorporation of self-discipline into daily life, can be seen through the drinking patterns of the male characters. Through their actions, they convey the idea that it is fine to drink an immense amount; however, the man who cannot hold his liquor does not possess enough self-discipline. Hemingway proves himself to be a man who is always in control of his own faculties because he never allows himself to be drunk.

Another element that is vital to Hemingway's accepted way of life is a high degree of skill and talent in a specified field. Hemingway is an accomplished writer, so he mainly associates with people who are equally skilled in his field. The friend that he visits most frequently is Miss Stein, who offers him much advice and criticism for his own writing. "She had...discovered many truths about rhythms and the uses of words in repetition that were valid and valuable and she talked well about them" (17). His talks with Miss Stein further stimulate Hemingway to revise and improve his work, making him a more competent writer.

Finally, an existential philosophy is incorporated into the novel by placing a higher value on life on earth.

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Death is seen as an end of all knowledge and consciousness, so all rewards must be obtained before death. This idea is what drives Hemingway to spend much of his time satisfying his sensual desires; a large portion of the novel deals with descriptions of numerous women, and the book opens with a girl who "disturbed [him] and made [him] very excited" (5). He frequently refers to "succulent oysters" and the "crisp taste of wine." These detailed descriptions of food imply that an emphasis should be placed on physical and worldly pleasures.

Through the actions of Hemingway throughout the novel, a certain set of values is created as an acceptable code of living; it incorporates the values of self-discipline, skill, and self-improvement. These elements are all necessary to gain the most out of life; physical and sensual pleasures must also be taken advantage of immediately because such rewards are nonexistent after death.
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