Anderson and Hemingway's Use of the First Person

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"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."At one point in his short story, "Big Two-Hearted River: Part II", Hemingway's character Nick speaks in the first person. Why he adopts, for one line only, the first person voice is an interesting question, without an easy answer. Sherwood Anderson does the same thing in the introduction to his work, Winesburg, Ohio. The first piece, called "The Book of the Grotesque", is told from the first person point of view. But after this introduction, Anderson chooses not to allow the first person to narrate the work. Anderson and Hemingway both wrote collections of short stories told in the third person, and the intrusion of the first person narrator in these two pieces is unsettling. In both instances, though, the reader is left with a much more absorbing story; one in which the reader is, in fact, a main character. With the exception of "My Old Man", which is entirely in the first person , and "On the Quai at Smyrna", which is only possibly in the first person, there is just one instance in In Our Time in which a character speaks in the first person. It occurs in "Big Two-Hearted River: Part II", an intensely personal story which completely immerses the reader in the actions and thoughts of Nick Adams. Hemingway's utilization of the omniscient third person narrator allows the reader to visualize all of Nick's actions and surroundings, which would have been much more difficult to accomplish using first person narration. Nick is seen setting up his camp in "Big Two-Hearted River: Part I" in intimate detail, from choosing the perfect place to set his tent to boiling a pot of coffee before going to sleep. The story is completely written the in third person and is full of images, sounds, and smells. In "Big Two-Hearted River: Part II" Hemingway exactly describes Nick's actions as he fishes for trout. Details of his fishing trip are told so clearly that the reader is almost an...
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