Hemingway is a great figure of the « lost generation », like Fitzgerald, S. Anderson, G. Stein, S. Lewis… F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken” to describe the feeling the young intellectuals had in this years. The writers of the “lost generation” added their own feelings of loss and failure to the previous tradition of realism. The short story The killers by Hemingway is representative of this realism and those feelings of loss and failure, because it seems that Summit (the town where the action takes place) and its inhabitants are part of a sterile and destructive world without any god or powers above. How and why is this short story representative of this “lost generation” ?
The setting & the atmosphere :
- the setting seems to be a commonplace : comparison with Ed. Hoppers’s painting Nighthawks, representing a similar place - a very common lunch counter, in an American town, Summit
- artificial atmosphere with “streetlight”, “arc light” in the street ; the colours seem to be absent of the scene : this is a sort of black & white scene, with the darkness of the night and the artificial white light, the “black overcoat” and “the face was small and white”…) - the town seems to be a dead town, with a great impression of loneliness
- everything is prosaic : for instance, the menu : « a roast pork tenderloin with applesauce and mashed potatoes » or « ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver rand bacon, or a steak” - the language is contaminated by this mundanity, it reflects the disenchantment of the world
The time :
-the time is passing minute after minute without real action : “ it’s five o’clock ”, “ it was a quarter past six ”, “ it was twenty past six ”, “at six fifty-five”, “the hands of the clock marked seven o’clock and then five minutes past seven” -the rhythm of the story could be comparated with the rhythm of blues music : it is very slow,...
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