JONES AT HOME reading and discussing Great Literature
Notes for Presentation on Don DeLilloŪs White Noise.
Don DeLillo is an American novelist, playwright, and fiction writer who is typically classified by literature scholars as a postmodernist.› He was born in 1936 and he has written 11 books, including "White Noise," Libra" and "Mao II." One of his favorite themes is obsession in late 20th century America.››
Read Quotes from White Noise, Pages 31, 73, 84, 91, and 106.
There are 3 themes that run through Don DeLilloŪs žWhite NoiseÓ that are essential for understanding the work.
1.) Death: the end to the chaos that is living
2.) Life: is the unfortunate consequence of what happens while people are off busy planning on how their life should be.
3.) The White Noise that is the title of the book is the result of the data smog being piped into the lives of the characters through the novel.› This static keeps them from ever living their life.› They do what the static tells them they should (See quotes about shampoo)
''White Noise,'' is Don DeLilloŪs eighth novel, and is the story of a college professor and his family whose fictional Midwestern town is evacuated after an industrial accident.› It shows how J.A.K. Gladney is the ultimate buffoon who lives his life in denial of both life and death.
The novel opens with the September 1st arrival of students at The College-On-The-Hill. The station wagons ''arrive in a long shining line.'' Laden with stereos, radios, personal computers, hair-dryers and hair-styling irons rather than the tools of physical survival, the station wagons disgorge young students who feed on Kabooms and Dum-Dum pops, Waffelos and Mystic mints. The mothers are ''crisp and alert,'' the fathers ''distant but ungrudging.''
''This assembly, . . . more than formal liturgies or laws, tells the parents they are . . . a nation,'' pompously observes J. A. K. Gladney, a professor of Hitler studies at the College-on-the- Hill and the originator of Hitler studies in North America.›› Our protagonist is J. A. K. Gladney, and we follow his actions with the perspective of a third persona narrator.
This is an America without control; everyone is a consumer, and a passive actor in their environmnt.› Some citizens join Simuvac, some citizens sign up to be volunteer victims in simulated evacuations. Gladney is married to Babette, and they live with four of the children of their previous marriages in a rambling house filled with ''possessions that carry a sorrowful weight . . . the unused objects of earlier marriages, gifts of lost in-laws,'' objects infused with ''a darkness attached to them, a foreboding.'' Babette is a typical stereotypical representation of a mentally ill-housewife who manages to life as an adaptable faculty wife.› She volunteers to tabloids to the blind and teaches senior citizens' classes in posture.› Her overriding theme is her absentmindedness, ignorance and forgetfulness and her obsession with death.
Their son Heinrich (Gladney, who wanted to ''shield him, make him unafraid,'' thought the German name ''had an authority that might cling to him'') is 14, moody and introspective. His hairline is already receding. ›He exchanges chess moves through the mail with an imprisoned mass murderer and has little faith in the self-determination of human beings. ''How can I be sure what I want. . . . It's all this activity in the brain and you don't know what's you and what's some neuron that just happens to fire. . . . Isn't that why Tommy Roy killed those people?''› He spends the entire novel questioning.
Their daughter Denise is 11, a difficult child who leads ''a more or less daily protest against parental habits that she considers wasteful or dangerous.'' She points out the warning on her mother's packages of sugarless gum and is the first to notice Babette's surreptitious consumption of a drug called Dylar.
Steffie is slightly younger than Denise, a sensitive child who, while watching television with her family, ''becomes upset when something shameful or humiliating seems about to happen to someone on the screen'' and stands outside the room while Denise gives her an update on the action
Finally there is Wilder, the 3-year-old son who seldom speaks but, asleep or awake, is a constant reassurance to his parents, simply because he is there.
Children, in the America of ''White Noise,'' are in general more competent than their parents; emotionally, they constitute a kind of early-warning system.› They plan less, and do more than their parents.› The novel's first short section informs us that ''homemade signs concerning lost dogs and cats are posted on telephone poles all over town'' - signs often handwritten by children. Indeed, the children seem the only ones still attuned enough to the natural world to be concerned about dogs and cats. But children are not merely guardians of the heart; they are the targeted audience, the frequency to which the advertising industry and the vast construct of the media are tuned. The professors at the College-on-the Hill speak of a ''society of kids'' and tell their students they are ''already too old to figure importantly in the making of society. . . . It is only a matter of time before you experience the vast loneliness and dissatisfaction of consumers who have lost their group identity.''
Group identity is a ''white noise'' in itself, the white noise of history. ''Crowds came to hear Hitler speak,'' Gladney points out in his classes, ''crowds erotically charged, the masses he once called his only bride. . . . There must have been something different about those crowds. What was it? . . . Death. Crowds came to form a shield . . . to become a crowd is to keep out death.'' Academia is trying, too; Hitler studies shares a building with the popular culture department, officially known as American environments, ''an Aristotelianism of bubble gum wrappers and detergent jingles.''
Murray J. Siskind, a shining, somewhat shunned star of the department, is a former sportswriter from New York who studies American culture with a curious reverence.› He acts as a counterpoint to Gladney through the novel, clarifying themes for him (and acting as his counsel.
''You've established a wonderful thing here with Hitler,'' he tells Gladney. ''You created it, you nurtured it. . . . He is now your Hitler. I marvel at the effort. It was masterful, shrewd and stunningly preemptive. It's what I want to do with Elvis.'' If white noise heralds death, Murray maintains, it also hints at the secrets of the (technologically transformed) universe, a modern music of the spheres.Ó
''White Noise'' has its strongest voice in the soundtrack of a media-inspired hyperconsumer America.› White noise includes the ever-present sound of expressway traffic, ''a remote and steady murmur around our sleep, as of dead souls babbling at the edge of a dream.'' Television is ''the primal force in the American home, sealed-off, self-contained, self-referring . . . a wealth of data concealed in the grid, in the bright packaging, the jingles, the slice-of-life commercials, the products hurtling out of darkness, the coded messages . . . like chants. . . . Coke is it, Coke is it, Coke is it.''
Television, Murray Siskind asserts, ''practically overflows with sacred formulas.'' White noise includes the bold print of tabloids, those amalgams of American magic and dread, with their comforting ''mechanism of offering a hopeful twist to apocalyptic events.'' Fast food and quad cinemas contribute to the melody, as do automated teller machines.
Jack Gladney: ''Everything seemed to be in season, sprayed, burnished, bright. . . . The place was awash in noise. . . . The toneless systems, the jangle and skid of carts, the loudspeaker and the coffee-making machines, the cries of children. And over it all . . . a dull and unlocatable roar, as of some form of swarming life just outside the range of human apprehension.''
Murray Siskind: ''Everything is concealed in symbolism. . . . The large doors slide open, they close unbidden. Energy waves, incident radiation . . . code words and ceremonial phrases. It is just a question of deciphering. . . . Not that we would want to. . . . This is not Tibet. . . . Tibetans try to see death for what it is. It is the end of attachment to things. This simple truth is hard to fathom. But once we stop denying death, we can proceed calmly to die. . . . We don't have to cling to life artificially, or to death. . . . We simply walk toward the sliding doors. . . . Look how well-lighted everything is . . . sealed off . . . timeless. Another reason why I think of Tibet. Dying is an art in Tibet . . . Chants, numerology, horoscopes, recitations. Here we don't die, we shop. But the difference is less marked than you think.''
AMERICANS in ''White Noise'' do well to study their supermarkets closely, since death is edging nearer, anonymous, technical, ironically group-oriented. Menacing signs appear - reports of various toxic waste disasters are broadcast frequently; the local grade school is evacuated (''Investigators said it could be the ventilating system, the paint or varnish, the foam insulation, the rays emitted by microcomputers''), and a man dies during the inspection of a second-floor classroom.
Finally, after ''a night of dream-lit snows,'' an ''airborne toxic event'' originates in a rail accident at a nearby train yard. The dark billowing cloud is full of Nyodene D, a chemical familiar to Heinrich (''It was in a movie we saw in school on toxic wastes. These videotaped rats''). The radio quotes a series of symptoms ranging from sweaty palms to deja vu (''Death in the air,'' Murray explains, ''liberates suppressed material'') to coma. ''I'm the head of a department,'' Gladney tells Heinrich, ''I don't see myself fleeing an airborne toxic event. That's for people who live in mobile homes out in the scrubby parts of the county, where the fish hatcheries are.''
Nevertheless, Gladney finds himself joining an exodus familiar from disaster movies (and other assorted media images, directed by amplified voices over loudspeakers. Cars crawl toward a Boy Scout barracks in a heavy snowfall, creating a third lane on the grassy incline at the edge of the expressway. Other evacuees walk (''There was a family completely in plastic, a single large sheet of transparent polyethylene. They walked beneath their shield in lock step''). Gladney gets out of the car to pump gas and sees the event itself - lighted by the search beams of helicopters - passing over columns of cars ''like some death ship in a Norse legend, escorted across the night by armored creatures with spiral wings.'' ›(DL 34)
Later, at the barracks, Simuvac is in operation. ''Are you saying you saw a chance to use the real event in order to rehearse the simulation?'' Gladney asks. ''You have to make allowances for the fact that everything we see tonight is real,'' the worker agrees. ''But that's what this exercise is all about.'' Gladney is asking for reassurance about his two-minute exposure to the cloud and is told he is ''generating big numbers . . . your whole data profile. I tapped into your history. I'm getting bracketed numbers with pulsing stars. . . .''
''Am I going to die? . . .''
''Not in so many words.''
''How many words does it take?''
''It's not a question of words. It's a question of years. We'll know in fifteen years. In the meantime we definitely have a situation. . . . I wouldn't worry. . . . I'd go ahead and live my life. . . .''
''But you said we have a situation.''
''I didn't say it. The computer did. . . .''
Gladney is so passive and ignorant to believe the results of a single computer program.
''It's like we've been flung back in time,'' Heinrich says of the barracks. ''Name one thing you could make. . . . We think we're so great and modern. . . . Could you rub flints together? Would you know a flint if you saw one? . . . What is a nucleotide? You don't know, do you? . . . What good is knowledge if it just floats in the air? It goes from computer to computer. . . . But nobody actually knows anything.''
After nine days normalcy resumes. Men in protective suits and German shepherd dogs ''trained to sniff out toxic material'' patrol the town. Sunsets last for hours; silent crowds watch the spectacular colors from overpasses. Gladney secretly visits a think tank diagnostic center that confirms the presence of Nyodene D in his blood. ›He has confirmation that what a computer program told him is true.
Babette admits to taking Dylar, moved by her constant anxieties to answering a tabloid ad: ''Fear of Death? Volunteers wanted for secret research.'' Following test after test, she is judged one of three most fearful finalists, but the ''small firm doing research in psychobiology'' decides not to use human subjects.
Babette makes a desperate arrangement with the project manager, a shadowy figure she will reveal to Gladney only as ''Mr. Gray.'' For several months, she conducts a sexual affair in exchange for the drug.› Gladney, ''scheduled to die'' himself, is moved equally by rage and fear. He tells Babette he wishes to contact Gray only to get Dylar.
His pretentious plan to murder Gray ends in a comic farce when Gladney takes his victim to a hospital and has a conversation about belief with a nun called Sister Hermann Marie: ''You don't believe in heaven?'' he asks. ''Your dedication is a pretense?'' ''Our presence is a dedication,'' she responds. ''As belief shrinks from the world, people find it more necessary than ever that someone believe . . . Nuns in black. . . . Fools, children. We surrender our lives to make your nonbelief possible. . . . There is no truth without fools.'' ''I don't want to hear this,'' Gladney protests. ''This is terrible.'' ''But true,'' she answers.
''WHAT good is my truth?'' Heinrich asks Gladney early in the novel. ''My truth means nothing. . . . Is there such a thing as now? 'Now' comes and goes as soon as you say it.''
It is in this interplay of the white noise that surrounds these people that we see the struggle between life and death played out.
Notes for an Oral Presentation on Ernest Hemingway about
There are three ideas that are essential for understanding Ernest Hemingway as an author.› I am going to talk today about Ernest Hemingway, his career as an author, and the significant of three concepts in some of his works
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American novelist and short-story writer whose writings and personal life defined excellence for American writers of his time and thereafter. Many of his works are regarded as American classics. A review of Hemingway reveals many interesting points about his life, about the influences upon his works, and of the themes and styles of his writings.
An examination of Hemingway's past brings helps to understand these three aspects of his work.
He was the second of six children born to Clarence and Grace Hemingway,
Ernest was born July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. The society he grew up in was one of strict disciplinarians. His parents were no exception. In fact he spent much of his life trying to escape the "repressive code of behavior" (CLC, 177) that was pushed upon him as a child. After graduating high school he chose not to go to college and instead became a reporter for the Kansas City Star, where he remained for seven months.
His opportunity to break away came when he volunteered as a Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy. In July of 1918 while serving along the Piave River, he was severely wounded by shrapnel and forced to return home after recuperation in January 1919.
The war had left him emotionally and physically shaken, and according to some critics he began as a result "a quest for psychological and artistic freedom that was to lead him first to the secluded woods of Northern Michigan, where he had spent his most pleasant childhood moments, and then to Europe, where his literary talents began to take shape." (CLC, 177) First he took a part-time job as a feature writer for the Toronto Star, eager to further pursue his journalistic ambitions. In the fall of 1920 he became the contributing editor of a trade journal, which took him to Chicago. It was there that he met his first wife, Hadley Richardson. They were married in September 1921. In December of that year they went to France and for 19 months they traveled over Europe and Anatolia as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star. In late 1923 they returned briefly to Toronto where their son John was born, but Europe was still in Hemingway's mind.
In early 1924 he resigned his job at the Star and moved back to Paris to launch his career as a writer.
An examination of Hemingway's writings is akin to a study of his life. Most of his fiction was based upon events that he himself had experienced, or at that he knew completely.› Being the perfectionist that he was, Hemingway did not feel justified in writing about topics of which he was not completely informed. Through his extensive travels in Europe and Africa, as well as other areas, he formed the groundwork for many of his most famed and cherished stories. His work as a Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy ended up providing the theme and location of one of his most successful novels, A Farewell to Arms, published in 1929.
Many of his tales, especially in earlier years, centered around a character named Nicholas Adams, an avatar of Hemingway himself. Just as Hemingway did, Nick Adams grew up around the Michigan woods, went overseas to fight in the war, was severely wounded, and returned home. Earlier stories set in Michigan, such as "Indian Camp" and "The Three-Day Blow" reveal a young Nick to bean impressionable adolescent trying to find his path in a brutally violent and overwhelmingly confusing world. Like most all of Hemingway's main characters, Nick on the surface appears tough and insensitive. However, "critical exploration has resulted in a widespread conclusion that the toughness stems not from insensitivity but from a strict moral code which functions as the characters' sole defense against the overwhelming chaos of the world." Not just Nick Adams' experiences, but his attitudes as well seem to mimic those of his creator.
Ernest's adventures in Pamplona were the basis of a memorable novel, žThe Sun Also Rises,Ó which helped to build him a reputation. The book was instantly successful and made him the leader of what was called "The Lost Generation" (Grolier, 1) His 1938 play and melodrama of the Spanish Civil War, The Fifth Column, was composed a year earlier during a stay in Madrid. In 1933-34 He went on a big-game safari in Kenya and Tanganyika where he became an avid hunter and picked up the knowledge for his 1935 nonfiction work, žGreen Hills of Africa.Ó Also derived from his African experiences were two of best stories, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." Dubbed his most ambitious novel, "For Whom The Bell Tolls," about the tragedy that had befallen the Spanish people, came following the time he spent serving as a correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance during the Spanish Civil War.› His career culminated in winning the Nobel Prize for Literature for žThe Old Man in the SeaÓ in 1954.›
The impact which Ernest Hemingway's work has left upon society is astounding. He taught about life's harsh realities and the importance of maintaining a code by which to live and deal with those realities. Through his own extensive experiences he has compiled these stories of the dark side of life, and of the good that can be found within. His own battle with the unforgiving world in which we exist, from which his stories were derived, was lost in 1961 when he committed suicide. The world will forever bear his mark.
There are three concepts that are important to understanding the work of Hemingway.
The first is the concept of Thanatos, this is the personification of death as a character.› He associates death as a person in numerous examples. It becomes important because of how he relates it to his life.
The second is the Code. Ernest lived his life in a self-actualized manner as an attempt to reject the influence of the world on him.› His life is one of adventure and action that is the antithesis of home.›› Hemingway found his home abroad.›
The third is the Avatar.› Hemingway writes best about the elements he knows best.› Himself, and his depression.› In every work of Hemingway he creates a single character who is an Avatar of himself.› It is through this avatar that he bends the plot using dramatic elements to further the examination of himself and his life.
writes žHemingway, on several accounts, writes of a man named Nick Adams.
Hemingway uses Nick throughout most of his stories. Primarily, he uses this
character in about five stories that have been grouped together that critics
refer to as "The Education of Nick Adams" (129). Adams is HemingwayŪs
character that critics believe to be his means of writing about his own
life. Hemingway shows us that Nick finds his consolation in his father.› HemingwayŪs depiction of Mrs. Henry Adams,
NickŪs mother, portrays her to be an overbearing and obnoxious woman. Benson
describes Mrs. Adams asÓ Nicks mother is a woman who smothers sweetly with
that peculiar self righteous intensity which is born of Victorian moral
certainty" (6). Mrs. Adams constantly questions the actions of Dr.
Adams and Nick. According to Jackson Benson, after the row with Dick Boulton
in "The Doctor and the DoctorŪs Wife," Mrs. Adams only attempts
to second guess Dr. Adams.› Instead
of sympathizing with him, Mrs. Adams scolds her husband and expresses the
suspicion that it was Dr. Adams who caused all the trouble. Her tone effectively
reduces the doctors status to that of a little boy. Her further refusal
to believe her husband after patronizingly urging him not to "try to
keep anything from me" belittles him into a posture not only of a naughty
little boy, but a sulky and not even a very trustworthy one (8).
shows Mrs. Adams almost as an evil empress who wants control over her family.
The setting around Mrs. Adams gives the reader an impression of power. Benson
describes the setting as:
a queen bee or despotic invalid, Mrs. Adams sends forth her pronouncements
from a darkened room. With the blinds drawn against the harsh light of reality
(a familiar image in Contemporary American Fiction)÷(8).
also gives the reader a sense of feeling, the same feeling Dr. Adams was
feeling when his wife was questioning him in the story. Benson shows Mrs.
AdamsŪ attitude and the aggravation Dr. Adams felt ÷And her stubborn blindness
and self-righteousness is given further impetus by HemingwayŪs device of
making her a Christian Scientist. Mrs. AdamsŪ denial of what we have just
seen to be true effectively creates in the reader the same irritated frustration
which causes Dr. Adams to leave the house to go hunting, slamming the door
behind him (8).
the story Mrs. Adams undermines Dr. Adams. This gives the reader a plain
view on how Nick and his father would look to each other for piece-of-mind.
NickŪs father, Dr. Henry Adams, appears in "The Doctor and the DoctorŪs Wife" as a kind and gentle man with patience of steel. Hemingway tells the reader of Dr. AdamsŪ great love for hunting and fishing. He also demonstrates Dr. AdamŪs ability to maintain his self control. "He was a busy and kindly physician whose chief avocations were hunting and fishing"(Baker 129). Dr. AdamŪs, when questioned by his wife, remains calm. A slight tone of irritation is assumed due to his dialogue, and actions. Throughout the entire discussion with his wife he still his able to keep is composure, like Hemingway.
doctor wiped his gun carefully wife a rag. He pushed the shells back against
the spring of the magazine. He sat with the gun on his knees. He was very
fond of it. Then he heard his wifeŪs voice from the darkened room"(75).
Mrs. Adams questions his explanation of the fight with Dick, then attempts
to justify her argument. "He stood up an put the shotgun on the corner
behind the dresser".
"Are you going out, dear?", his wife said.
"I think IŽll go for a walk," the doctor said (75).
Dr. AdamsŪ coolness is demonstrated here. Instead of becoming outraged, he bottles his feelings up inside and turns to his son for comfort.
and his father had a special bond, a bond that only can be created through
a father and son relationship. The bond that unites the two is comparable
to many things, the experiences a teacher has with and eager student, or
the satisfaction a professor gets when a young pupil completes an assigned
task with an above average outcome is measurable to the happiness NickŪs
father got out of teaching him about nature. "NickŪs father, Dr. Henry
Adams, played a notable part in NickŪs early education" (Baker 129).
In the short story "Indian Camp", Hemingway writes, "In the
early morning , on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father
rowing, he felt quite sure he would never die (70). Dr. AdamŪs and NickŪs
bond not only unified them with nature but it also allowed them to alienate
themselves from Mrs. Adams. When the three were together, it seems as she
was the "third wheel", a kind of add "man" out. The
last paragraph in the "Doctor and the DoctorŪs wife" resembles
this type of activity.
"Your mother wants you to come and see her," the doctor said.
"I want to go with you," Nick said. His father looked down at him. "All right,
come on then," his father said. "Give me the book, IŪll put it in my pocket."
"I know where thereŪs black squirrels, Daddy," Nick said. "All right," said his
father. "LetŪs go there" (76).
This last sequence portrays their father-son unity, the disregard for Mrs. Adams, and the common knowledge of their true feelings. NickŪs father put the book in his pocket so Nick wouldnŪt have to go back into the house. Dr. Adams understood NickŪs need for comfort at that present time.
Through hunting and fishing, Nick became close to his father. Benson shows the similarities that appeal both to Nick and his father:
Hunting and fishing become not only a means of escape and masculine identification for the Hemingway protagonist but they also offer opportunities for a release from anxiety. Hunting and fishing are continual symbols for the attempt of the Hemingway boy to identify himself with the father÷(9).
Hemingway symbolizes NickŪs need for a male role-model by using hunting to be the common thread that he and his father can both relate to without coming out and saying they need each other for support. Benson characterizes nicks need for his father by showing the relationship between hunting and his need for male bonding:
Hunting becomes for Ernest-Nick the male direction, and NickŪs appeal at the end of "The Doctor and DoctorŪs Wife" to go with his father is a plaintive cry for masculine assertion which is echoed down through the Corridors of HemingwayŪs fiction (9).
These acts are symbolic of NickŪs attempt throughout the stories to avoid his mother and embrace his father.
"The Doctor and the DoctorŪs Wife" gives the reader an impression that Hemingway is writing of a specific instance in his own life that made him turn to his own father for comfort. Joseph DeFalco explains how Nick attempts to seek his comfort in his father by unconsciously attempting to reconstruct the relationship he has with his father. When he told his father "I know where black squirrels are" (76), Nick was putting himself in the position of the "guide" (167). Nick now has become an equal to his Dr. Adams. They both are on the same level. They both have things to teach and show each other. NickŪs great want, or better stated, need for consolation is met. NickŪs comfort zone is found in whatŪs familiar, his father.
The theme of the code rejects society. The majority of his works revolve around the psychologically wounded Hemingway Hero, accurately representing HemingwayŪs own ongoing struggle to face the world with "grace under pressure." (CLC, 178) All of Hemingway's heroes adhere to their own code, or set of moral standards. They are usually men, tough and experienced in the world they know, yet seemingly insensitive. Though they may seem cold on the surface, it has been said that "the fidelity to a code, to a discipline, may be an index to a sensitivity which allows the characters to see, at moments, their true plight. At times, and usually at times of stress, it is the tough man, for Hemingway, the disciplined man, who actually is aware of pathos or tragedy." (CLC, 179) For example Harry, in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," who fits the above description of a Hemingway Hero, lying incapacitated and ready to die, reveals through a series of flashbacks his own imperfections and regrets.›› What Harry is doing is realizing the regrets that Hemingway himself had to deal with.› For example, Charles Scriber wrote, žin spite of the obvious importance of the Paris Years on HemingwayŪs development as a writer, few of his short stories have French settings.Ó› Yet Harry in žThe Snows of KillimanjaroÓ states, žNo, he had never written about Paris.› Not the Paris that he cared about.› But what about the rest that he had never written?Ó (Snows P.52)
The code usually follows one of two methods. First, there is the story about the man who as already adopted his code, or disciplines, in the world that he cannot otherwise cope with. The second, which is used more often, is about growth and learning, about discovery of the world's evils and disorder, and about the steps taken towards "mastery of discipline" (CLC, 180) and the building of one's code. One good example of the latter would be "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" in which a weak spineless man on safari in Africa (note the similarity to Hemingway's own experience) experiences various achievements and rejections that lead to his timely evolution from a normal twit to a disciplined man.
Read Quote from P. 8.
Still the definitive hero of Hemingway's tales is Nick Adams', whose collected stories are entirely about just that, the initiation into a swirling world of evil and confusion, and the learning necessary to cope with it. Over half of the first forty-five stories that Hemingway wrote focus on Nick, or occasionally another young man so similar that they could be one and the same. As a young boy, Nick's reaction to the world is that of shock. He stands to the side and observes events, more than taking part in them. Terrible things happen to him, and about him, as he grows up through the course of HemingwayŪs work. His experiences teach the reader about life, and help to reveal the truths we would otherwise encounter in a manner similar to him. In other words, "He is the whipping-boy of our fearful awareness...He suffers our accidents and defeats before they happen to us." (CLC, 183)
Modern critics have associated Hemingway with deconstructionism, with his subtle style and mastery of short declarative sentences.› Deconstructionism is a challenge to the attempt to establish any ultimate or secure meaning in a text. Basing itself in language analysis, it seeks to "deconstruct" the ideological biases (gender, racial, economic, political, cultural) and traditional assumptions that infect all histories, as well as philosophical and religious "truths." Deconstructionism is based on the premise that much of human history, in trying to understand, and then define, reality has led to various forms of domination - of nature, of people of color, of the poor, of homosexuals, etc. Like postmodernism, deconstructionism finds concrete experience more valid than abstract ideas and, therefore, refutes any attempts to produce a history, or a truth. In other words, the multiplicities and contingencies of human experience necessarily bring knowledge down to the local and specific level, and challenge the tendency to centralize power through the claims of an ultimate truth which must be accepted or obeyed by all.
Pay careful attention to the style.› ItŪs the loose style, spoken as dialogue.› It sets a scene without using a great deal of descriptive language.
This is most clearly visible through the following passages (to be read aloud)›
(P. 389) A clean well lighted place
It is the nature of the beast within that fuels our inclination towards conflict and destruction. During the surreal powers of war, life hangs in the balance setting the stage for an elite group of individuals who triumphantly rise above the rest amidst the chaos. As Ernest Hemingway illustrates in his book, Farewell to Arms, the character of Frederick Henry; an ambulance driver, is put to the ultimate test during the madness and atrocity of WWI. His experiences at the front pose a challenge only a Hemingway hero can affront successfully. As the epitome of a code hero, Frederick is a man of action, self-discipline, and one who maintains grace under pressure.
Whenever the situation requires, Henry rises to the occasion taking control of potentially dangerous incidents with quick decision leaving no room for second thought. After Frederick is captured by the battle police, he foresees his inevitable death if no action was taken and instinctively escaped detainment. "I looked at the carabineri, they were looking at the newcomers. The others were looking a the colchel. I ducked down, pushed between two men, and ran for the river, my head down. I tripped at the edge and went in with a splash" (Hemingway, 214). Henry witnessed the gruesome executions of the officers before him and knew he was not going to die without a fight to preserve his precious existence. Being a man of action rather than words, was the determining factor which helped him survive this unfortunate confrontation with death. Regardless of the circumstances, Henry used his authoritative position to make sure others did not engage in any threatening positions that could jeopardize their safety and the safety of others. When one of his ambulances got suck in the mud during a retreat, two sergeants simply tried to abandon the situation but Frederick stopped them in their tracks. "Halt, I said. They kept on down the muddy road, the hedge on either side. I order you to halt. I called. They went a little faster. I opened up my holster, took the pistol, aimed at the one who talked the most, and fired" (Hemingway, 195). The men were given an ample opportunity to obey Henry's commands and by ignoring them, it suggested that they were challenging their superior's authority. Such actions are not tolerated by Frederick as he was once again forced to take the initiative as his character is always compelled to do.
The possession of self-discipline is another vital element that forms the makeup of the code hero and is the only value that will truly serve a man. Although Henry is an avid drinker, he never becomes drunk to the point that he does not know what he is doing or can control his behavior and actions. "He poured two glasses and we touched them, first fingers extended. The grappa was very strong. ......We drank the second grappa, Rinaldi put away the bottle and we went down the stairs" (Hemingway, 17). Presented with the invitation, Henry gladly accepted a few drinks an acted like a dignified gentlemen even though in the immediate presence of alcohol. A man of strength and character will not let substance control and influence his actions for only the weak are dependent and rely upon such means to live out each day. Frederick's self-discipline not only shines in his drinking habits, but shows in all instances especially when the challenge to maintain it is at its greatest. After he plunged into the lake escaping the battle police, Henry boarded a train and entered a wine shop in the town of Milan where the train stopped. The owner of this shop offered to sell him leave papers and also a place to stay to avoid the authorities, but Frederick avoided the temptation. "Remember, he said. Come here do not let other people take you in. Here you are all right."....."I am in no trouble, Frederick said. But I value the address of a friend...."(Hemingway, 228). Even though he was a wanted criminal, Henry did not accept the help that would have provided a way to avoid being arrested even if for only a short time. As a man on the run, Frederick would be unlikely to repose trust in the first stranger who accosts him after his disersion. He uses his self-control to resist his overwhelming urges to accept the help as not to risk jeopardizing his future with Catherine who was the one and only love of his life. He has an uncanny ability to weigh and analyze the choices he makes without getting emotionally involved.
is sentimentally detached from the rest of the world that enables him to
deal with intensely climatic moments with such aplomb and ease. When being
transported to his room in the American hospital, Henry graciously acknowledged
the stretcher-bearers even in such grueling pain. "There is money in
my pocket. I said to the porter. The porter took out the money. The two
stretcher bearers stood beside the bed holding their caps. Give them 5 lire
a piece and five lire for yourself" (Hemingway, 81). Rewarding the
staff for doing their job in spite of Henry's uncomfortable dilemma is a
perfect example of how he is able to put aside his true inner feelings to
accommodate those around him. Regardless of the severity of any given situation,
Frederick is able to mask his emotions showing only a nonchalant facade
as he performs mundane duties in traumatic or pressure filled predicaments.
He deals with his wife's death by merely observing her lifeless body and
casually strolling back to the hotel like nothing had ever happened. "But
after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn't
any good. It was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while I went out
and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain" (Hemingway,
314). The statue is a metaphorical creation, which attempts to grasp the
nothingness Frederick feels after Catherine's death. Perhaps the path Henry
takes towards the hotel symbolizes a new chapter in his life one in which
he begins without the love he held so dearly and strived to maintain.
Frederick reflects the essential elements of a true code hero with dignity and grace. By following his character in every facet of his journey, we see how Hemingway uses it to unify the central events of the story around his creation of a new breed of hero and all the qualities they possess. Such characteristics will set one apart and become evident in all aspects of life where they are truly challenged and welcomed. As it may be, we all hold the potential to achieve the status of a code hero; but only the strong and willing are able to look within and release the true essence of their being for others to experience.
Hemingway's In Our Time is a true representation of his "lost generation"
for the simple reason that all generations are eventually lost as time goes
by. Hemingway focuses on a generation he knows about, his own.› ›It
becomes apparent throughout the novel that Hemingway is deconstructing the
world without overly using vast amounts of description.› All of the žmessages" bring the reader
to an understanding of a generation, the "lost generation" that
appears to result from Hemingway's novel.
Ernest Hemingway uses intense short stories to leave a feeling of awe and wonder in the reader of In Our Time. One begins to become emotionally involved and attached to Hemingway's many stories, just as he himself appears to hold some personal attachment and emotion to each story. Our main character Nick, is in fact, Hemingway himself. It seems as though no matter what age this novel is read at, it could be discussed as a representation of the "lost generation." What is meant by the phrase "lost generation?"›› It is this ability to be relevant across generations that is exemplified by deconstructionism
Possibly it means the loss of a kindlier, friendlier, period of time. Maybe it means a loss of familiarity, closeness and strength of relationships; everyday things like the lost art of conversation. But at the same time, the characters in the stories appear to be part of a "lost generation" themselves. In "The Three- Day Blow," Nick and Bill spend a leisurely afternoon talking about baseball and books while enjoying a good "ole'" bottle of Irish whiskey. They manage to pass the time talking rather than watching "television" or going to the "mall," things that are all too common today.
This leisure time seems like a pastime that has all been but outlawed in today's fast paced modern society. They seem to get by on nothing else but their own company and do not adhere to any outside interference- they do not need any other means of entertainment to enhance their time together. It is just the two of them and a good bottle of whiskey- no more, no less. Hemingway's stories seem to have a vintage, old- fashioned kind of feel to them, but at the same time portray and somewhat relate to modern times. They all seem to have some kind of moral dilemma or moral awareness in them. All the characters appear to be searching for something, although they are not all consciously aware of what or where or even why fate has brought them to the place in time they are in.
in the Rain" depicts a so- called happily married couple on vacation
in Spain, spending a day inside(apparently by the husband's choice) due
to the bad weather. The wife seems to be searching for something to fill
a void inside of her. She speaks of a cat in the rain- her answer to the
nada(or so she thinks). She goes down to retrieve it but cannot find it.
She tells her disinterested about the event. It is clear that it is indeed
her husband that has created the void due to the lack of attention he pays
to his wife. The cat is simply a metaphor for her needs. Suddenly, there
is a knock at the door and a maid appears with a cat in her hands. The manager
downstairs gave it to her, finally, someone who would pay her the attention
she craved. This story seemed to represent the "lost generation"
of love between a husband and his wife and ended with a bitter twist showing
how easy it was to find attention from someone or somewhere else. This story
depicted the deterioration of marriage in Western society and how two people
can easily grow apart in a big world. Another lost generation.
phrase "lost generation" can be highly speculated on and can be
interpreted in many ways. For instance, in chapter 13, the short story "My
Old Man," seems to bring about much emotion. This story is told by
a man's son(Joe), who talks about what living with his father was like.
He exhibits a great amount of pride and compassion towards his father and
their lifestyle. His father is basically a representation of all that is
good and solid in Joe's world. Joe is a part of his father's generation
more than he is a part of his own, and knows no other way to be. This story
represented the "lost generation" because it focused on a tight,
close-knit relationship between a father and his son, something that is
not as common today. For instance, when Joe hovers someone call his father
"you son of a bitch," he says he begins to feel "sick inside"
and he did not understand "how anybody could call my old man a son
of a bitch and get away with it." When his father in the end is killed
by a horse racing accident Joe begins to cry uncontrollably and feels an
enormous sense of loss; the loss not only of his father's generation, but
the loss of part of his own. Now he is forced to face his own generation,
one completely unlike his father's generation.
the novel seems to end similarly to the way it began. In the last two stories,
"Big Two- Hearted River Part I" and "Big Two-Hearted River
Part II," we are embraced by the same character, Nick, who appears
to be as disconcerted as ever. He is on a fishing trip, his favorite pastime,
only this time he is by himself. While on his trip, he thinks about old
times, present times, and even a little unconsciously, times to come. He
thinks of friends, times with friends, and even sort of clues into how things
have changed. He seemed to come to the realization of how everything had
changed- "even the surface had been burned to the ground." He
remembers similar fishing trips he had taken with his friends Hopkins and
Bill. "Hopkins left when the telegram came," "it broke up
the trip," "they all said good- bye and all felt bad,"- "they
never saw Hopkins again." Nick seems to come to the realization that
people change, times change, and life itself changes. It appeared that Nick
went fishing to try and make time stand still, to somehow relive the past
and try and make new "old" memories. He soon realizes that the
past is a past never to be recaptured ever again. He may not want to admit
this to himself, but it shines through when he decides not to "fish
in the swamp." "There were plenty of days coming when he could
fish the swamp," but in fact, there probably were not. Nick did not
want to let go of the past, but he knew it was out of his hands now. Times
were inevitably changing, and when times change, generations are lost and
live only in the memories of those who experienced them.
When someone says, what is a "lost generation," how do you reply? A lost generation is lost time, a lost way of doing things, and lost lives. But are generations ever truly "lost?" When we think of past generations do we tend to cloud our minds by thinking the past generation was better(or maybe worse) than present or future generations? Do we lose sight of things or do we just do things not necessarily worse, but different and more enhanced than the we did things in the past. Everyone has their time in the sun, their fifteen minutes of fame, and their fondest memories. No one can take away, alter, or make those memories seem insignificant but the person themselves. Who is to say that because things change and are different that one cannot continue "living." Enjoy your time in your own generation but have no fear in making or participating in a new generation. Life is short, so why not just enjoy living?
The novel žFor Whom The Bell TollsÓ was primarily about HemingwayŪs changes through wartime. Hemingway reveals these ideas about war through the narratorŪs thoughts and through the interaction between the major characters. Hemingway shows that war brings about a personal change, that reveals much about manŪs individuality and that time is limited.
Hemingway reveals much about the individuality of men and the singularity of the code through the relationship of Robert Jordan and Maria. When Jordan is dying at the end of the novel he says to Maria "Thou wilt go now, rabbit. But I go for thee. As long as there is one of us there is both of us. Do you understand?"(p460) We begin to understand how we as people are never truly alone but instead are always surrounded by the memories and thoughts of those we love. When two people truly fall in love they become as one. Where one goes, both go. Robert finally says to her " The me in thee. Now you go for us both. Truly. We both go in thee now. This I have promised thee. Stand up. Thou art me now. Thou art all there will be of me. Stand up." (Pg.462) By saying this Jordan reveals how man is never an individual but instead is made up of all the influences, experiences, and memories that we have shared with others.
this change came upon Jordan as a consequence of joining the war. Before
the war had started he had no idea what it meant to be an individual, or
to truly fall in love. Jordan says to Maria "I have never loved someone
as thee. Before our cause I never new what it was like to truly live. Or
to love, as I do thee" (P160). This shows how being in the war allowed
him to understand what it really meant to be a man. Before the war he never
lived as full a life as he does during the war. It is the essence of war
which causes these changes in him.
The simple character Anselmo is also changed by the war. But instead of the changes being negative as they are with many of the other characters (except Jordan), they bring upon a positive change on him. When discussing the horrors of war with Robert Jordan Anselmo mentions, "The men who come to enjoy the killing, they are the ones who are changed. I always hated killing a man, and I still have trouble doing it."(p358). Anselmo gains more of a respect of humans after he has been forced to kill some" Hemingway contrasts AnselmoŪs philosophy of life with the more hardened, cruel men in the play. By doing this we see the change the war has brought upon the other characters. When Anselmo is watching the fascist camp he thinks "We will kill them. It is a strange thing and I do not like to think of it. I have watched them all day and they are the same men we are. They are poor men as we are. We should not be fighting each other, but we are."(p192) Anselmo comes to the discovery that all men are equal regardless of politics, but it is war that causes are hatred. The war he is fighting is what causes this change of viewpoint.
On the other hand, Pablo is a character who has been changed negatively by the war. When mentioning how he and his people slaughtered a town, he says "I liked it. All of it, expect for the killing of the priest. I was disillusioned by him. I expected a better death. He died with very little dignity."(P127). Pablo is a character who now is a drunkard. It takes killing to get him to do something. After the death of a Fascist brigade Pablo mentions that "I feel like my old self again. I am back. I wish we could have killed some more". When contrasting the ways of Pablo and Anselmo we come to see how much we can be changed by the horrors of war. Whereas Anselmo did not let the changes negatively affect him, Pablo did. By this contrast we can compare what change can be brought upon us by the effects of war, and not living by the code.
Throughout the novel there is a concept that the amount of time you have to accomplish something, or be with someone, is irrelevant. All that matters is how you take advantage of what time you are given. This is the soul of the code hero.› Living the code is to take advantage of the time that is given.› When Robert Jordan realizes that his time in earth may be limited he says "If all I have are these three days to live out my life, then I will be thankful and enjoy what gift has been given to me"(p208). At this point JordanŪs realization causes him to stop worrying about what may come, but instead to enjoy the rare opportunity he has been given. After these three days are up Jordan mentions "I have learned more in these three days, then in my whole life. If only I had more time I could learn so much, but maybe man was only supposed to understand so much about life."(P295) Through JordanŪs thoughts Hemingway has shown us how the quantity of time is immaterial, but it is rather the quality of time that is the utmost of importance. Jordan comes to realize that time is limited but we must make the best of what we have.
Furthermore it is the war that has caused this change in Robert Jordan. Near the end of the novel Jordan states that "The war has taught me one thing. That time is what is important. More so than I thought before. If I die it will be OK, because I have lived the life I wanted in these last three days" (P434). Jordan has come to realize that time is a very limited thing, and that opportunities only come once. To waste them is foolish, you must take what you can, when you can, because of the very fact that time is limited.
There is only a finite amount of time to do the things we want, and when Jordan comes to this realization he has already done what he wanted to do. The essence of war is what taught him this. The fact that one minute "Your friend is beside you, the next he is laying on the forest floor. Begging for you to kill him."(P 207).
In conclusion, I hope that I have been able to show you some the three values that underlie many of HemingwayŪs work.
Outline for Speech/Presentation on Ernest Hemingway
Specific Purpose Statement:› To inform my audience about the story žA Clean, well-lighted placeÓ and itŪs relationship to Ernest HemingwayŪs life and death.
Central Idea: Ernest Hemingway could not deal with the žnothingÓ in his life and vented his frustrations through his writing, ultimately ending in his death.
Opening Sentence.› žTonight IŪm going to talk about nothing at all.Ó
Opening Quote, žCarlos Baker describes Nada as a something called Nothing which is so huge, terrible, overbearing, inevitable, and omnipresent that, once experienced, it can never be forgottenÓ
It is a metaphysical state that symbolizes the
chaos in everyoneŪs lives. Some people have it more than others and some
deal with this idea differently that others. Either way, nada is an uncontrollable
force that should never be forgotten.› Ernest
Hemingway tried to deal with it unsuccessfully through his novel žA Clean,
Well-lighted PlaceÓ and it eventually caused his demise.
Method of Organization: Topical.
Main Points: 1.) Who, What, When, Where the story was set.
What :"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"
Where:› was set in a small cafe in Madrid, Spain.
Who(Protagonist): There is an old deaf man who sits alone on a patio, sipping brandy.
Agonists: Two waiters observe the old man who is their last customer.
-The old man is comforted by the peaceful atmosphere of the cafe
-the younger waiter wants him to leave.›
›››››››››››››››››› 2.) The Story is allegory for Ernest HemingwayŪs Life.
-older waiter comes views life that he is getting old and he does not really have anything to show for life, no friends, not very much money, and no real love.
***Hemingway sees himself here***
›››››››››››››››››› 3.) Interplay between younger waiter and older waiter is an examination of Hemingway himself.
- Loneliness and old age are the common bonds that the older waiter shares with the old man.
- when the younger waiter boasts about his youth and confidence, the older waiter jealously replies, žI have never had confidence and I am not youngÓ(Hemingway 161)
- when the younger waiter boasts about his youth and confidence, the older waiter jealously replies, žI have never had confidence and I am not youngÓ(Hemingway 161)
- the older waiter does not want to go home. Later in the story, the older waiter is at a bar drinking. The narrator mentions that, žit is too late at night for conversationÓ
- The connection attaching the old man to the older waiter enabled the reader to recognize the waiter's loneliness and broken spirit.
- Hemingway reveals his character through speech and statements by the narrator.
›››››››››››››››››› 4.) Suicide
-In the story there is an old deaf man trying to commit suicide.
-Earlier in life his father disgusted him by committing suicide
-Hemingway may have felt that suicide was the only way to deal with a problem.
Hemingway ascribed to the characters in this story the worst parts of his character in an attempt to understand them.› He was not entirely successful, Hemingway started suffering from depression later in life and he was admitted to a mental hospital.› Ernest Hemingway committed suicide on July 2nd, 1962.
Baker, Carlos. Hemingway...the Writer as Artist.
Princeton: Princeton University Press,
Burgess, Anthony. Ernest Hemingway and His World. New York: Charles ScribnerŪs
Hemingway, Ernest. žA Clean Well-Lighted Place.Ó Literature: Reading, Writing,
Reacting. Ed. Laurie Kirszner and Stephen Mandell. Fort Worth: Harcourt
Brace College Publishers., 1997. 256-259.
Hoffman, Steven K. žŪNadaŪ and the Clean Well-Lighted Place: The Unity of
HemingwayŪs Short Fiction.Ó Ernest Hemingway. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York:
Chelsea House, 1985. 173-192
"A Farewell to Machismo." New York Times magazine, 16 October 1977
žBruccoli, Matthew J., Ed. Ernest Hemingway, Cub Reporter; Kansas City Star Stories. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970.Ó
Plimpton, George. "Interview with Ernest Hemingway." The Paris Review 5 (Spring 1958): 60-89. Reprinted in Conversations with Ernest Hemingway. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1986. 109-129.Ó
Bruccoli, Matthew J., Ed. Ernest Hemingway, Cub Reporter; Kansas City Star Stories. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970.
White, William., Ed. By-Line: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1967.
›White, William., Ed. Dateline, Toronto: The Complete Toronto Star Dispatches, 1920-1924. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1985.
http://www.hemingway.org/› The Ernest Hemingway museum site dedicated to his focus on Oak Park.
http://www.hemingwayhome.com/› The museum website devoted to his home and his life in Key West Florida.
››››››››››› A room of oneŪs own was the painful reflection of the illusionary life of ShakespeareŪs sister.› Virginia writes with the fury of a woman scorned, and is guilty of not following her own admonition of writing with the burned clarity of expression honed through the fire of burned failures and ideals.› Despite that it was powerful for me to read her writing because I understand some of what she went through in her life now.
››››››››››› It was an interesting for me to read Sylvia Plath after reading Virginia Woolf, if only because Sylvia makes numerous homageŪs to her as a mentor.› At various points we see Sylvia ensconced in her room, the room of her own.› She writes about her life, and her sadness her passions, and her grief.› Words drip from her pen the way a devoted husband loves his wife.›
››››››››››› Virginia was writing her story for her audience the legions of woman writers who she knew would follow her.› The tone of žA room of oneŪs ownÓ is secretive, pleading and honest.› She is regretful of things;
Words fall from her lips
Raindrops on gargoyles,
Tears for a life chosen,
Trees sigh in regret
A theft in the darkness
Words stolen from sleep,
Lost without a room of her own
An unfulfilled passion,
Nursed against an unready breast
Held for an unforgiving unready world.
ItŪs too much, too soon; Virginia
They arenŪt ready for your close up.
I saw a cafe with Virginia, and you wondered how things were different, could have been different if only a few changes happened.› The life chose the path it did.›› A victory staunch, pulled from the grips of the heavy-handed men she was writing against.››› Has the struggle for womanŪs rights in literature constantly been this difficult?
The choice between following your dreams and following your heart was brutal.
Dorothy Parker wrote,
žsome men fawn and flatter
some men never look at you
and that cleans up the matter.Ó
What do you dream of
When you sleep the long fitful sleeps?
What thoughts keep you awake
Tossing, turning, and thrashing?
Nightmares, sounds of screams,
Hurting, harming, hating
Fears of dread,
Terror, torment, and Tantalus
Dreams of a rabbit.
The dreams of a stranger living a life
Through rose-colored glasses.
The struggle with truth and reality.
The eastern way
Moves with the silence of the mountains
Regal opulence, naturesŪ gift.
The western way wavers
The statesman in his robes.
A world not fit to touch the hem of his garment.
Stately discourse taken away on time.
Shelves heaved with books of literature, science, and mathematics.
None of them are worthy.
Intelligence within, knowledge without.›
Lost in lies, stolen sanctity without grace
The lights of the future shine dimly now.›
Too many hopes, tossed on an uncertain glory.
Veritas they shouted.
You are not welcome here.
The eastern way
Moves with the silence of the mountains
Regal opulence, naturesŪ gift.
The western way wavers
The senator in his robes.
not fit to touch the hem of his garment.
Stately discourse ran away with time.
Shelves heaved with books of literature, science, and mathematics.
None of them feel worthy.
Intelligence within, knowledge without.›
To have reached them in a lie, to have stolen their sanctity in a malformed grace of a sentence.
The lights of the future shine dimly now.›
Too many hopes, tossed on itŪs uncertain glory.
Veritas they shouted, Verily nay,
You are not welcome here.
Long have we managed with your kind here,
Go away, they say, go far away.
Cloud not our pleasant skies with your filth.