Alcohol and Desperation: An Analysis of the Presence of Alcohol in Ernest Hemingway’s Short Stories
Throughout the short stories of Ernest Hemingway, alcohol inevitably lends its company to situations in which desperation already resides. In an examination of his earlier works, such as In Our Time, a comparison to later collections reveals the constant presence of alcohol where hopelessness prevails. The nature of the hopelessness, the desperation, changes from his earlier works to his later pieces, but its source remains the same: potential, or promise of the future causes a great deal of trepidation and lament throughout Hemingway’s pieces. Whether the desperation comes from trepidation or lament depends on the view point from which it is observed, or rather, experienced.
In many of the works written early in his career, Hemingway’s characters experience a fear of the future. The fear does not necessarily stem from commonly expected sources, such as “the unknown,” but rather, it seems to grow from a fear of failure, a fear of being unable to fulfill potential. A number of stories and vignettes from In Our Time reflect these trepidations, and throughout, the presence of alcohol surfaces as a reminder of the desperation felt by the characters as they confront or avoid the circumstances surrounding their fears. It should be clarified, however, that “desperation” here does not insinuate the many nuances that the term conjures, but rather, it describes its simplest meaning of a loss or a lack of hope. For the characters of the early stories, the lack of hope motivates trepidation, while in the later works, the loss of hope creates lament.
The lament experienced by Hemingway’s characters in his later works corresponds to an older perspective by both author and characters. In most cases of desperation, the later characters... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(1999, 10). Hemingway and Alcohol. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Hemingway-Alcohol-5807.html
"Hemingway and Alcohol" StudyMode.com. 10 1999. 10 1999 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Hemingway-Alcohol-5807.html>.
"Hemingway and Alcohol." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Hemingway-Alcohol-5807.html.