A RESEARCH PAPER PRESENTED
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT FOR THE
COURSE ENGLISH 3H
Fishing and Fighting for Dreams
April 16, 2012
Many authors, critics, and everyday social readers define Ernest Hemingway as the prime example of 20th century American literature. Hemingway’s works transcend time itself, so that even readers today analyze and criticize his works. His works, of course, have drawn praises and animosity from all corners of the globe. Critics often applause Hemingway on his short simple prose, for which many people recognize him for. His writing builds upon the masterful usage of “short, simple words and short, simple sentences” (Wagner, 3) to create clear and easy to understand pieces of art, so that even the simple everyday reader can enjoy his art. One may even say that “no other novelist … [has] had an equivalent influence on the prose” of today’s modern writing (Young, 39). Naturally, while supporters exist, so do the debunkers. They say that Hemingway’s prose “is too limited … [making his] characters mute, insensitive, uncomplicated men (Weeks, 1)” in society. The simplicity of his writing strips away the information that a reader may interpret, which fuels the debate that Hemingway utilizes no creativity in his writings; everything simply presents itself as it truly represents.
From the very first time Hemingway embarked on his historic writing journey, he exhibits through his written works and actions how a “hero” should conduct himself/herself. Hemingway often partook in hunting, fishing, and could be seen attending Spanish bullfights. Hemingway uses these experiences, and the ones he gained from World War II to enhance his already superb writing. Admirers often praise Hemingway for how he believes a man should live his life, and how he also emulates this belief in his characters by “tying the life of the hero to [Hemingway himself]” (Young, 41). These lauders praise Hemingway on his code hero - “a man who lives correctly, following the ideals of honor, courage and endurance in a world Wang 3
that is sometimes chaotic, often stressful, and always painful”(Weeks, 62). However, there are of course many people who criticize Hemingway. The infamous Zelda Fitzgerald once called Hemingway “a large phony” (Lynn, 9) in the way he portrays himself to the world. This led the way for further criticism coming from all paths of the literary world. People claim that “[Hemingway’s] work was shallow and without genuine feeling” (Lynn. 9) and lacks honesty. Hemingway’s female critics deem his portrayal of woman as sexist. Although a few notable exceptions exist, for the most part, Hemingway portrays woman as either manhood-destroying fiends or objects of sexual desire. Detractors of Hemingway will also say that Hemingway’s success comes from fortuitous circumstances, not from his literary genius. Hemingway wrote a good portion of his short stories and novels during the most prosperous years of America, 1924- 1929, where people had the money to buy luxuries such as books. In addition, Hemingway also wrote and published in Paris, where many influential avant garde critics and analysts gave him favorable reviews.
Furthermore, Hemingway’s critics would debunk Hemingway’s code hero. They accuse Hemingway of portraying his code heroes as stoic and brave, only as an attempt to show something about him that did not exist, his manhood. Despite these critics though, Hemingway’s code hero proudly resonates today. People today still point out Hemingway’s hero as the correct way to live one’s life. However, it should be noted that attaining this high Wang 4
standard of moral living does not simply happen over night, but rather, over long periods of struggle. Hemingway writes about some characters born innate with the code hero principle, and some who must struggle to achieve it. The characters all appear wounded, not only...
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