Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The characters in Hemingway's short stories

It's very interesting to know, why there are too little named charecters in Hemingway's short stories? May be, the personality of a character is more important for him than his/her name? But, it always considered that the name is one of the most uniqe things that differs people....???
Macomber’s beautiful wife, whom he married because of her beauty, secretly despises Macomber because she knows that he married her for one reason only: She is his “trophy wife.” She despises herself because she knows that she married him for one reason only: He is very rich. He will never divorce her because he values her beauty; she will never divorce him because she has become comfortable with being a very rich wife.

Therefore, Margot is delighted when Macomber proves to be such a weakling and runs from the lion; it gives her psychological control over him. It’s something that she can goad him with. However, when Macomber is about to reclaim his manhood as he faces the water buffalo, she is so frightened of losing control over him that she fires (or perhaps pretends to fire) at the charging water buffalo—and, instead, shoots her husband.


Macomber is thirty-five years old, very tall and well built, at the apex of his manhood—fit and good at court games (by “court games,” Hemingway is referring to tennis or squash, games in which there are rules and perimeters for the game). Now, however, the very wealthy and very handsome Macomber has come on safari to hunt wild game. This is no court game. There are no perimeters here—and few rules. The jungle is endless, and the law is the law of the jungle—or the law of the survivor, the fittest.

When the story opens, Macomber has returned from a lion hunt. He is hailed as a hero, but we discover that when confronted with the lion, he ran. Macomber’s wife saw him become a distraught coward. Wilson, their British guide, witnessed the event. Macomber has to reclaim a sense of manhood for himself and regain their admiration. He has his chance when he is face-to-face with a charging water buffalo. His courage is magnificent—and then he is shot, at the very moment when he feels happier than he’s felt in years. His short, happy life flares up, then dies, quickly.

Nick Adams is the name that Hemingway gave to the fictional persona, largely autobiographical, whom he often wrote about. Like Hemingway himself, Nick is the son of a doctor (“The Indian Camp”; “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife”); he relishes fishing and hunting in the northern peninsula of Michigan (“Big Two-Hearted River”). He romances a young girl named Marjorie, a summer waitress at a summer resort (“The End of Something”; “The Three-Day Blow”). He goes abroad during World War I and serves as an American Red Cross ambulance driver; he also is a courier, carrying chocolates and cigarettes to Italian soldiers on the Austro-Italian battlefront. And, like Hemingway, Nick suffers a knee wound (“In Another Country”). Unlike Hemingway, however, Nick suffered post-traumatic shock; his mind periodically seems to come unhinged (“A Way You’ll Never Be”).

In all, Hemingway wrote at least a dozen stories that center around Nick Adams, and in 1972, Scribner’s published a volume entitled The Nick Adams Stories.
In each of the Nick Adams stories, Nick witnesses—or is a part of—some traumatic event, and Hemingway reveals Nick’s reaction to that event. For example, in “Indian Camp,” Hemingway focuses on Nick’s reaction to a young American Indian man’s slitting his throat from ear to ear after listening to his young wife scream for two days and then scream even more during Dr. Adams’ cesarean that delivers a baby boy. In “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife,” Nick’s blind hero-worship of his father is contrasted with our knowledge that Nick’s father has a fraudulent aspect to his character. “The End of Something” and “The Three-Day Blow” revolve around Nick’s breaking off with his girlfriend, Marjorie. Nick is not entirely happy with himself afterward; Nick’s friend Bill prodded him to break up with her, and, finally, Nick secretly rejoices that he need not be as thoroughly against marriage as Bill is: Romance and women can still be tantalizing; they need not be shackles on a man’s future success.
Nick’s stay in Summit, Illinois, in “The Killers” ends when he is forced to witness a former prizefighter calmly await certain death by two hired killers. When Nick was a boy, he vowed never to be afraid of death, never to be like the young American Indian husband who “couldn’t stand” life’s demands. Yet here, Nick leaves Summit. He can’t stand to remain in a town where a man lacks the courage to do battle with death—even certain death.
“Big Two-Hearted River” follows Nick after he returns to Michigan from the Italian front during World War I. He takes a train to the upper peninsula and hikes to a stream where he will camp and fish and be alone, where he will slowly perform the rote motions of self-sustaining chores, peeling away the trauma and the scars from his ragged, wounded spirit and newly empowering himself with the healing powers of nature’s rituals.

Hemingway does not tell us Harry’s last name; we know only that he is a writer and that he and his wife, Helen, are on a safari in East Africa. Their truck has malfunctioned, and, while trying to fix it, Harry scratched himself and neglected applying iodine to the scratch. Now, gangrene has begun to eat away at the flesh on his right leg. The stench is overpowering. However, he’s not in pain—physical pain. All of his pain seems to be emotional pain of the seemingly sure knowledge that he is dying—and, worse than dying, he’s dying without having written many stories that he’d planned to write.

Why didn’t he write these stories? Harry believes that it was probably because he married a woman with a fortune. Her money poisoned his writing future, just as surely as gangrene is now poisoning his body and gnawing away at the few days of life that he has left.
When Harry is not being sarcastically savage to Helen, he drifts in and out of interior monologue flashbacks, remembering and recalling people and geography and incidents that he’s kept in his scrapbook of memories. They will die with him. No one will ever write about them now.

Helen. Harry’s wife seems almost saint-like, especially when compared with her dying husband. She does everything she can to make his illness more comfortable. She is genuinely concerned with his failing strength and tries to give him hope and courage.

3 comments:

anna_filatova said...

Olya, please read my comment to your previous post...

This post of yours was copied and pasted from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-10,pageNum-70.html

Plagiarism is an absolute no-no.

anna_filatova said...

Olya,
you would be so better-off if you wrote your own impressions about the story. I am sure you have a lot to say about it, don't you?
It would be most precious.

Readers said...

Unfortunately, I haven't read the article about plogiat before posting. I really wanted to write my own essay. It was just some critical material about Hemingway's style. Now, I have posted my own short essay. May be, in some days I'll post another essay dealing with his others short stories.
Sorry!!!