Honors American Literature
24 November 2014
Influence of Hemingway’s life upon his works
Some would say that Ernest Hemingway was born with writing in his blood. From the time he spent working on his high school paper to his first job on The Kansas City Star, Hemingway was developing and perfecting his writing style. He speaks fondly of his time working at The Star and credits his mentor with developing his style. One in particular, C.G. “Pete” Wellington, provided Hemingway with the writing style of a newspaper: “use short sentences. Use short paragraphs. Use vigorous English, not forgetting to strive for smoothness. Be positive, not negative”(Boyd 7). Hemingway was later quoted describing them as “ the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I’ve never forgotten them”(7). No matter who is responsible for its development, Hemingway’s style is one of his most unique attributes. Deep and pensive, his writing reflects what he experienced over the course of his life. He used his personal experiences, especially those from war, to add a different level of complexity to his novels, especially A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls,and The Sun Also Rises. Although he was rejected by the army due to an eye injury, Ernest Hemingway was greatly impacted by war (Bloom 7). He joined the Red cross effort by driving ambulances throughout Italy during World War I. He was injured by shrapnel during this
time and spent time in Milan, Italy, recovering. Hemingway was decorated by the Italian Army for the bravery he exhibited during this time. The injuries he sustained prevented him from being directly involved in World War II; however, Ernest Hemingway served as a War correspondent. He followed soldiers through many parts of Europe, particularly France, and reported on notable events such as the Battle of the Bulge and the Liberation of Paris (9). Bloom even makes a point to note “ Hemingway became something of a legend, joining the fighting as much as reporting about it”(9). This quote leads one to believe that Hemingway did not let his injuries prevent him from supporting a cause about which he felt strongly.
Hemingway’s World War I and World War II experiences are clearly influential in his writing of A Farewell to Arms. The novel explores the life of Frederic Henry, an ambulance driver in Italy ‒ Just like Hemingway– during World War I. Similar to Hemingway’s experience, Fredric spends time recovering from an injury in a Milan hospital (1013). By placing his character in some of the exact situations that he himself was placed, Hemingway makes it known that Frederic Henry is supposed to embody Ernest Hemingway. The novel delves into not only the physically consequences of war, but also the emotional tolls. Frederic Henry recalls his experiences and “. . . reveals a desire for a whole and perfect retelling of the past” (Dodman 1). His traumatic experiences prevent him from doing this, however, as his experiences taint his retelling of the war.
Some critics argue that the authenticity of the wartime situations portrayed in A Farewell to Arms is compromised because they are being retold by someone traumatized
by the experience. One notes that “. . . the novel’s ‘enforced silences’ the disruptive workings of traumatic memories aggressively imposing themselves on the survivor” (Dodman 2). Frederic is unable to create the “perfect retelling” he desires because he is so emotionally scarred by the experience. Hemingway uses A Farewell to Arms to show the psychological effects that war has on its participants. As LaCapra so aptly states: Certain wounds, both personal and historical, cannot simply heal without leaving scars or residues in the present; there may even be a sense in which they have to ...
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Dodman, Trevor. " 'Going All to Pieces ': A Farewell to Arms as Trauma Narrative."
Twentieth Century Literature, 52, no. 3 (Fall 2006): 249–274. Quoted as " 'Going
All to Pieces ': A Farewell to Arms as Trauma Narrative" in Bloom, Harold, ed. A
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Carter, Natalie. " 'Always something of it remains ': sexual trauma in Ernest Hemingway 's
For Whom the Bell Tolls." War, Literature & The Arts 25.1 (2013). LitFinder.
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Seidel, Michael. "Sun Also Rises, The." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web.
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Oliver, Charles M. "The Sun Also Rises." Critical Companion to Ernest Hemingway: A
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