The Characteristics of Hemingway’s Works Ernest Hemingway, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1954, occupies an outstanding position in the American literature. He is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Hemingway is famous for his distinct writing style and his “Code Hero. ” In addition, his many great works are based on his experiences of war. Hemingway’s writing style is arguably the most distinctive characteristic of his works. The minimalist style is the core of Hemingway’s writing style.
His writing style contrasts with William Faulkner’s meticulous writing style. Margaret Anne O'Connor and John Alberti described, “If Faulkner confuses readers because he offers so many details for readers to sift through in order to understand what's going on, Hemingway confuses by offering so few” (par. 8). Hemingway developed his simple writing style while he was a reporter for the Kansas City Star. The newspaper office supported Hemingway to learn “short sentences, short paragraphs, active verbs, authenticity, compression, clarity and immediacy. Hemingway said, "Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I've never forgotten them” (The Hemingway Resource Center par. 1). Hemingway developed “simple, direct, and somewhat plain” style. He seldom used adverbs or adjectives in his prose writing style. He eschewed using “direct statements and descriptions of emotion” and “place and things. ” In addition, he wrote terse and clear dialogue (Cooper par. 4). If one of his sentences is compared with a sentence of William Faulkner, Hemingway’s distinct writing style can be recognized easily.
In a novel A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway started the first paragraph as “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains” (3). In contrast with Hemingway’s minimalist writing style, in a short story “A Rose for Emily,” Faulkner described Miss Emily’s house as “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and . . . what had once been our most select street” (29). Hemingway’s minimalist writing style is connected with the “Iceberg Principle. ” Even though, Hemingway used simple writing style, his works are not simple.
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He endeavored to pare down words and convey implied meanings in few words. According to the Hemingway’s “Iceberg Principal,” the omissions of special parts of a story intensify the story. To do so, a writer should leave out special parts of story in “conscious” and make a reader recognize the abbreviated parts of story. If the reader recognizes the abbreviated parts, the reader can notice and understand the story intensely (Timeless Hemingway par. 70). Will Carroll wrote that “Hemingway hid nothing from the reader, though the reader did have to work to find it” (par. 2).
According to Jeffrey Hart, Hemingway described his “Iceberg Principle” as “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water” (par. 25). Another characteristic of Hemingway’s writing style is hard-boiled style. Anders Hallengren explained that “hard-boiled meant to be unfeeling, callous, coldhearted, cynical, rough, obdurate, unemotional, without sentiment” (par. ). The hard-boiled style also has close connection with Hemingway’s simple writing style. Because of his concise writing style, Hemingway could hone hard-boiled style spontaneously. Because Hemingway did not provide character’s detail thought and emotion, he described violence, cruelty, and death, which are discussed much in his works, unsentimentally. That is the core of the hard-boiled style. The last sentence of Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms is a precise example of the “Ice Principle” and hard-boiled style. At the end of the story, Frederic Henry loses his lover Catherine Barkley during childbirth.
Hemingway did not portray Frederic Henry’s sadness lengthily. Hemingway described, “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain” (332). Even though, Hemingway omitted the description of Frederic’s emotion and depicted Frederic’s action unfeelingly, that sentence conveys the sadness and nothingness of Frederic intensely. Therefore, the “Iceberg Principle” and hard-boiled style helped readers grasp “a greater perception and understanding” (Timeless Hemingway par. 70). Hemingway’s characters have some features which are called the “Hemingway Code Hero. Philip Young coined a term the “Hemingway Code Hero. ” He described the “Hemingway Code Hero” as whom "offers up and exemplifies certain principles of honor, courage, and endurance which in a life of tension and pain make a man a man” (Timeless Hemingway par. 19). According to the Melvin C. Miles, “Hemingway Code Hero” confronts the tragic condition with “dignity”. Although he or she is destroyed, the important thing is how he or she faces the tragic condition. He or she confronts the “destruction and death” with the “grace under pressure” (par. 15).
In addition, according to the Paul Totah, Hemingway defined the “Hemingway Code Hero” as “a man who lives correctly, following the ideals of honor, courage and endurance in a world that is sometimes chaotic, often stressful, and always painful” (par. 1). Frederick Henry of A Farewell to Arms, Jake Barnes of The Sun Also Rises, and Robert Jordan of For Whom the Bell Tolls are examples of the “Hemingway Code Hero. ” They “are young men whose strength and self-confidence nevertheless coexist with a sensitivity that leaves them deeply scarred by their wartime experiences” (Encyclopedia Britannica par. 12).
In addition, Santiago of the novella The Old Man and the Sea is one of the finest examples of the “Hemingway Code Hero. ” According to Clinton S, Santiago shows “heroic proportions. ” He struggles with the giant marlin with courage, honor, and “endurance. ” When sharks attack the marlin, which Santiago killed with his harpoon, he confronts hardship. In that hardship, he decides “to fight them until I die” (31). Santiago’s saying touches the core of the “Hemingway Code Hero. ” Santiago says, “A man can be destroyed but not defeated” (Hemingway 103). Hemingway considered “authenticity in writing” very importantly.
Hemingway thought that to write “honestly,” a writer should have firsthand experience or observation of the topic. If the writer does not have direct touch of the topic, the reader would recognize the writer’s short of the knowledge about the topic. In addition, he thought that when a writer discusses the well-known topic, he or she can get rid of the “superfluous detail without sacrificing the voice of authority” (MSN Encarta par. 9). According to the Carlos Baker, Hemingway said, “A writer’s job is to tell the truth. ” In addition, Hemingway often commented that “I only know what I have seen” (85).
Hemingway experienced major wars of early 20th century; his experiences from war became foundations of his great works. Thomas Putnam described that “No American writer is more associated with writing about war in the early 20th century than Ernest Hemingway. He experienced it firsthand, wrote dispatches from innumerable frontlines, and used war as a backdrop for many of his most memorable works” (par. 4). According to Elizabeth Meehan, Hemingway volunteered to be American Red Cross’s ambulance driver and was dispatched to Italy during the World War I. When he visited the Italian infantry trench, he was wounded by Austrian mortar fire.
However he tried to rescue another wounded Italian soldier; he was shoot in his right leg by a machine gun (38). According to the Scott Donaldson, Philip Young insisted that “Hemingway's near fatal injury on the Italian front was a traumatic event that lay at the source of most of Hemingway's writing. ” That is called “Wound Theory. ” According to the “Wound Theory,” because of the trauma which Hemingway underwent in the Italian infantry trench, Hemingway “frequently” described the “confrontation with death and danger” in his works (par. 22). Hemingway’s experiences from World War I influenced his novel A Farewell to Arms.
According to Elizabeth Meehan, Hemingway fell in love with Agnes Von Kurowsky who was an American nurse while Hemingway recuperated in a Milan Hospital. However, after Hemingway came back to America, she broke up their relationship via a mail (38). Among the experiences of World War I, the romance with Agnes Von Kurowsky and the injury from the Italian infantry trench became the important bases of the great novel. In A Farewell to Arms, a protagonist, Frederic Henry is an American lieutenant of Italian army medical corps. Frederic meets an English nurse Catherine Barkley whose model is Agnes Von Kurowsky.
After he is wounded by mortar fire on the Italian front, he is sent to a Milan hospital. In the Milan hospital, they develop their relationship. Along with the romance, Hemingway discussed the loss of human value, disillusionment, and brutality of war in A Farewell to Arms. According to Thomas Putnam, Tobias Wolff said, “Hemingway’s great war work deals with aftermath. It deals with what happens to the soul in war and how people deal with that afterward” (par. 13). The “Lost Generation” represents the loss of morality and aimlessness of the aftermath of the World War I.
The term “Lost Generation” was coined by Gertrude Stein. Gertrude Stein said, “You are all a lost generation” (Hemingway preface). Hemingway used her phrase in the preface of his novel The Sun Also Rises. Thomas Putnam described “Many regard the novel [The Sun Also Rises] as Hemingway's portrait of a generation that has lost its way, restlessly seeking meaning in a postwar world” (par. 25). Jake Barnes, a protagonist of The Sun Also Rises is an example of the “Lost Generation. ” He is wounded during World War I and become impotent. Even though he loves Brett Ashley, his sexual pursuit can’t be satisfied with Brett.
Barnes is a man who loses the traditional notions of morality and justice and wanders aimlessly through Paris and Spain. Hemingway had loved Spain during his lifetime. When the Spanish Civil War began, Hemingway visited Spain as a correspondent and supported the Republicans. He made a documentary film, The Spanish Earth and raised money for the Republicans. His experiences during the Spanish Civil War became the base of his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (Special Collections par. 1). Hemingway discussed the human value, love, loss of innocence, loss of liberty, death, and brutality of war in that novel.
Ernest Hemingway has distinct characteristics on his work; unique writing style, “Hemingway Code Hero,” and works which based on his experiences on war. As one of the most dominant American writers, the characteristics of his works have had a lot of influences on American life. According to the James Nagel, Hemingway’s simple writing style has given important effects to American literature. Especially, his style caused “the minimalist movement in American fiction. ” Besides American fiction, Hemingway’s style has permeated on the American life.
America reads newspapers and magazines which are influenced by Hemingway’s prose style and listens to the news which mirrors “Hemingway’s sparse style” (par. 6-8). In addition, according to the Foster Hirsch, Hemingway’s hard-boiled style has an important effect on the “tough crime writers” (par. 1). Hemingway’s great works which are based on his experiences of war are famed all over the world; his works announced the brutality of war. In addition, Hemingway reflected the aimless of the generation who survived the World War I. However, he did not continue to reflect the aftermath. Hemingway Code Hero” shows how to confront hardship with dignity to the people who have lost their notions of morality and justice. Works Cited " Ernest Hemingway. " Encyclop? dia Britannica. 2007. Encyclop? dia Britannica Online. 12 Oct. 2007 . “Ernest Hemingway. ” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia. 2007. Microsoft Corporation. 1 Nov. 2007 . “Ernest Hemingway Biography-World War I. ” The Hemingway Resource Center. 2007. The Hemingway Resource Center. 26 Oct. 2007 < http://www. lostgeneration. com/ ww1. htm>. “Ernest Hemingway FAQ. ” Timeless Hemingway. 2007. Timeless Hemingway. 27 Nov 2007 < http://www. imelesshemingway. com/faq. shtml>. “Ernest Hemingway In His Time-The Spanish Civil War. ” Special Collections. 2003. University of Delaware. 29 Nov. 2007 < http://www. lib. udel. edu/ud/spec/ exhibits/hemngway/pish. htm>. Baker, Carlos. “The Way It Was. ” Ernest Hemingway: Bloom’s Critical Views. Ed. Bloom. Harold. New York: Chelsea House, 1985. 85-106. Carroll, Will. “Ernest Hemingway. ” American Literature Web Resources. 2001. Millikin University. 27 Nov. 2007 < http://www. millikin. edu/aci/crow/chronology/ hemingwaybio. html>. Clinton S, Burhans. Jr.. “On Santiago as A Tragic Hero. Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Ed. Bloom. Harold. PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 1996. 30-32. Cooper, Michael. “The Writing Style of Hemingway. ” Ezine Articles. 2005. Ezine Articles. 21 Nov. 2007 < http://ezinearticles. com/? The-Writing-Style-of-Hemingway&id=70613>. Donaldson, Scott. “Ernest Hemingway. ” SimonSays. com. 1998. Simon & Schuster, INC. 29 Nov. 2007 < http://www. simonsays. com/content/book. cfm? sid=33&pid= 359029>. Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily. ” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 10th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 9-34. Hallengren, Anders. “A Case of Identity: Ernest Hemingway. ” Nobelprize. org. 2001. Nobel Foundation. 2 Nov. 2007 < http://nobelprize. org/nobel_prizes/literature/ articles/hallengren/index. html>. Hart, Jeffrey. “Fitzgerald and Hemingway; Modernism Goes Mainstream. ” The Dartmouth Review. 2006. The Dartmouth Review. 27 Nov. 2007 < http:// dartreview. com/archives/2006/11/28/fitzgerald_and_hemingway_modernism_goes_mainstream. php>. Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969. Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970. Hirsch, Foster. “Ernest Hemingway. ” The Film Noir ’net. 2007. The Film Noir ’net. 2 Nov. 2007 < http://bernardschopen. tripod. com/hemingway. html>. Meehan, Elizabeth. “Ernest Hemingway: The Solitary Hero. ” Twentieth-Century American Writers. CA: Lucent Books, 2000. 36-43. Miles, Melvin C. “An Introductory Overview. ” The Lunatic Fringe. 2007. El Camino College. 28 Nov. 2007 < http://www. elcamino. edu/Faculty/sdonnell/hemingway. htm>. Nagel, James. “Ernest Hemingway: A Centennial Assessment. ” CNN. com 1999. CNN. 12 Oct. 2007
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