American Novel 8/04/2013 Q) Hemmingway’s depiction of the condition of man in a society that has been upset by the violence of war, in light of “The Sun also Rises” and “A Farewell to Arms”. No American writer is more associated with writing about war in the early 20th century than Ernest Hemingway. He experienced it first hand, wrote dispatches from innumerable frontlines, and used war as a backdrop for many of his most memorable works. Commenting on these experience years later in Men at War, Hemingway wrote: "When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality.
Other people get killed; not you. . . . Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you. After being severely wounded two weeks before my nineteenth birthday I had a bad time until I figured out that nothing could happen to me that had not happened to all men before me. Whatever I had to do men had always done. If they had done it then I could do it too and the best thing was not to worry about it. Many persons whose outward lives do not in the least resemble that of a typical ‘Hemingway’s character’ are still conscious of the dislocation due to war, and of which he has made himself the outstanding fictional spokesmen of our time. Hemingway’s characters are soldiers, sportsman, Prize fighter and his world of fiction swarm with ferrets, drunkards and prostitutes. He is greatly pre-occupied with death and violence. ‘A Farewell to Arms’ shows Hemingway’s ability to create life like character, both male and female, in such a way as to make us feel that we have actually met them.
The First World War plays an important role in the novels of Ernest Hemingway. He has depicted all real war experience in his novel. The war led up to a deep distrust of all established institutions and values religions, ideals, society, patriotisms etc. Only concrete experiences were valued. Thus, Hemingway emphasized the sense and the experience based on them. The Sun also Rises is one of his such novels. It is a story of a few American expatriates who were living in Paris after the War. There were all wounded either physically or psychologically by the war. I got hurt in the war," I said. "Oh, that dirty war. " We would probably have gone on and discussed the war and agreed that it was in reality a calamity for civilization, and perhaps would have been better avoided. I was bored enough. Just then from the other room someone called: "Barnes! I say Barnes! Jacob Barnes! " (3. 9)| The banal discussion of the war that Jake and Georgette narrowly escape is one that’s unsatisfactory and not comprehensive. We get the feeling that there’s a lot more to be said about the war, but nobody knows how to communicate it yet. "My dear, I am sure Mr.
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Barnes has seen a lot. Don’t think I don’t think so, sir. I have seen a lot, too. " "Of course you have, my dear," Brett said. "I was only ragging. " "I have been in seven wars and four revolutions," the count said. "Soldiering? " Brett asked. "Sometimes, my dear. And I have got arrow wounds. Have you ever seen arrow wounds? " (7. 18)| The count’s definition of "seen a lot" is associated with war – as though war is the only real experience a man can have. The old pre-war values cannot give them the direction that they are looking for and in this lost world they are all lost souls.
They drink heavily to quieten their inner distressed voices. Jake Barnes is a casualty of the First World War. He has been made impotent due to his injury and thus is now ‘half the man than he was before. ’ His physical impairment has made it impossible for him to consummate his love and thus this becomes the tragedy of his love for Brett Ashley. Although there is no mention of it in the novel directly, it has been implied in certain scenes. As Brett is not willing to settle for less, Jake is drowned in the ocean of unrequited love.
Thus, Jake then becomes a tragic hero, one of the most praised heroes of Hemingway’s books. We see that the war has taken away his masculinity from him leaving him incomplete for life. As Jake’s war doctor remarks on his loss, “He has given much more than his life. ” As the title of the novel makes clear, A Farewell to Arms concerns itself primarily with war, namely the process by which Frederic Henry removes himself from it and leaves it behind. The few characters in the novel who actually support the effort—Ettore Moretti and Gino—come across as a dull raggart and a naive youth, respectively. The majority of the characters remain ambivalent about the war, resentful of the terrible destruction it causes, doubtful of the glory it supposedly brings. The novel offers masterful descriptions of the conflicts senseless brutality and violent chaos. The scene of the Italian army’s retreat remains one of the most profound evocations of War in American Literature. As the neat columns of men begin to crumble so does the soldier’s nerves, minds, and capacity for rational thought and moral judgement.
Henry’s shooting of the engineer for refusing to help free the car from the mud shocks the reader for two reasons, first, the violent outburst seems at odds with Henry’s detached character, and secondly, the incident occurs in a setting that robs it of its moral import, the complicity of Henry’s fellow soldiers legitimizes the killing. The murder of the engineer seems justifiable because it is an inevitable by-product of the spiralling violence and disorder of the War.
I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honour, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.
To Henry, such abstractions as honour, glory, and sacrifice do little to explain or assuage the unbelievable destruction that he sees around him. What matters, he decides, are the names of villages and soldiers, the concrete facts of decimated walls and dead bodies. He believes that in order to discuss the war honestly, one must dismiss artificial concepts and deal with terms grounded in the reality of the war. He tarnishes the romanticized ideal of the military hero by equating the “sacrifices” of human lives in war with the slaughter of livestock.
He further compares romantic riffs about honor and glory to burying meat in the ground. Nothing can be sustained or nurtured by such pointlessness. Hemingway believed that in this corrupt world it is no longer possible to have a decent, self-respecting and dignified life. It is the end of love, end of human dignity, end of personal relationships and a realisation that man is all alone in the world and he has to fend for himself. It is the realisation that the ultimate reality is nothing but nada, a Spanish word which means ‘nothingness’. “Nada”, someone said. “It’s nothing.
Drink up. Lift the bottle. ” (The Sun Also Rises, chapter15) The Sun Also Rises portrays a few American and British young men whose experiences of the war are qualitatively not different from those of Nick Adams and Jake Barnes and they are lost in a world which they do not understand. Their meaningless wanderings in Paris and later in Pamplona are the equivalents of their confused minds which have failed to find any guiding principles in life. Bull-fighting for them becomes a symbol of life in which the matador demonstrates how a man facing death can retain dignity.
As a matter of fact it is in the face of danger and confrontation with death that they show courage, so that they can lead a life in which they can respect themselves. There is a vague realisation on the part of these expatriates that they cannot implement the matador’s code in their lives because of the wounds inflicted by the war will take quite some time to heal. In A Farewell to Arms Henry realizes that his idealism which had guided him into the front is meaningless in the face of total destruction symbolized by the war.
Whether he performs his duties or not, it does not make any material difference to the unit to which he belongs. The endless round of drinking and brothels is equally futile because he cannot find any object to which he could align himself and seek some sort of satisfaction that would give some meaning to his life. His love affair with Catherine Barkley is a temporary relief from the inner disquiet and finally with the death of Catherine he is no better off than the dog nosing in the dust bin for something to eat but where there is nothing for him to find.
His own wound had also but killed him. This feeling of nada then led to “the lost generation”. The term lost generation is generally applied to those who had actively participated in the First World War and as a consequence of this realised that life was meaningless. As a result of the domination of machine over man, man had felt that they were extremely helpless. This disillusionment could have taken either the shape of nihilism or a search for enduring values and absolutes. In the mechanised war there was no room whatsoever for the assertion of manhood or courage and bravery.
In a famous passage in A Farewell to Arms Hemingway brings out this disillusionment. In the rain, the words like honour, glory, patriotism seemed obscene to him and what was real were the names of the regiments, streets and towns. The Sun also Rises and A Farewell to Arms celebrate the conditions that led to this disillusionment and how man sought desperately to clutch at straws in this meaningless and valueless world. There is no sentiment whatsoever about the retreat ion A Farewell to Arms or the adventures of Brett Ashley.
They are delineated with the realism of a scientist but with the tenderness of an artist. There is a feeling of boredom and disgust with the half-truths and sentiments of the earlier generations. Hemingway has, along with Remarque, revealed the grotesque and the animal nature in man. Worship of instinct instead of rationality became the order of the day. The world that Hemingway has portrayed is unrecognizably part of the modern world. The violence of war is still with us. And added to it is the anxiety and fear of the cold war that seems to have become part and parcel of the Twentieth Century life.
His preoccupation with violence, decay and death may be neurotic but are still part of the twentieth century temper. The lack of morality is with us to stay. There are no religious values that can provide balm to the troubled mind. As Jake Barnes states in The Sun also Rising, “I’m a rotten Catholic. ” In the words of Philip Young, “It is a hell of a world, and we should protest it. But on the other hand we should be hard-pressed to prove that it is not the one we inhabit… While other writers were watching the side acts, Hemingway’s eyes were from the start focused on the main show. The devout ask for peace in our time but ironically there is no peace in our time. This is the vision that Hemingway presents in his works and it is difficult to refute its authenticity so long as our world is going to be haunted by the fear of a thermo-nuclear war. As Hemingway wrote in A Farewell to arms, “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure that it’ll kill you too but there will be no special hurry. ” Work Cited: http://onviolence. com/? e=313 http://www. hrmars. com/admin/pics/1043. pdf http://www. amazon. com/Hemingway-War-Ernest/dp/0743243293 http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway http://www. archives. gov/publications/prologue/2006/spring/hemingway. html Book: Hemingway on War
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