Amer. Lit. R.
Hemingway’s Portrayal of Isolation and Loneliness
Some people find it hard to cope with their losses and face being isolated from the world. After dealing with these problems, individuals find certain ways to be relieved of these situations. Stories can sometimes give an insight into the way people have to live through these feelings. Whether it is a war veteran or even just a lonely waiter at a café, he has to deal with emptiness and being lonely at some point in his life. The difficulties a protagonist must face in stories involving loneliness and isolation are sometimes shown through the character’s actions and the use of title. Ernest Hemingway is an author that does a fantastic job portraying these problems throughout many of his short stories. Harold Krebs in “Soldier’s Home” is a boy back from war who finds it hard to transition back to being home, while the soldier from “In Another Country” has to adapt to being away from home in Milan. Just like the other two characters, the waiter in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” deals with being lonely and working late nights. Through characterization and significant title, Hemingway shows characters who feel isolated from society and seem empty due to their losses. To begin, Hemingway uses various details to describe and develop the characters in his stories. Harold Krebs, a young man in “Soldier’s Home” returns from war finding it difficult to fit back in. Krebs describes the changes in his hometown; it shows how hard it is to get into the groove after returning from war. When Krebs describes the way he feels he says that he, “… did not feel the energy or courage to break into it.” (Hemingway “Soldier’s Home” 654). He does not feel he could participate in the world around him or fit in with his surroundings after coming home. Harold stops himself from becoming crazy by rebelling silently and by himself (Bloom 106). Since he feels he cannot break in to the world around him, he isolates himself from society to avoid insanity. While Krebs has difficulties returning home, the waiters in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” teach each other life lessons. The older waiter is talking to the younger waiter and states, ‘I have never had confidence and I am not young’ (Hemingway “Clean, Well-Lighted Place” 382). This depicts the character trying to prove a point to the younger waiter; he shows how he has never been a confident person. The older waiter urges for specific things but cannot grasp onto these dreams or hopes (Kazin 20). He educates the younger man on how he had trouble doing things in the past. However, throughout “In Another Country” Hemingway characterizes the narrator as someone who has a difficult time fitting into society. Being in another country can be tough for the narrator due to the different languages, which in the end leads to great frustration. The narrator is trying to learn Italian to fit in. He states, “Italian was such a difficult language that I was afraid to talk to him”(Hemingway “In Another Country” 172). This shows how hard it is for the characters to fit in during these times in another country. Through characterization Hemingway creates an image of his character, the Major, who gives the impression of his despair and sadness (Zam 2). The characters action, “looking out the window”, describes his sadness toward his wife who died. This leaves the reader off in a sad state of mind.
Also, the title of a story can be a great contribution to a story and hold an enormous amount of significance, through “Soldier’s Home” one can come to the realization that the protagonist feels as though he belongs back at war rather than being home. Krebs begins to reminisce about his past. Hemingway writes, “He thought about France and then he began to think about Germany” (“Soldier’s Home” 655). This statement shows that Krebs misses being away in war. Being away at war is almost more of a...