Essay, Research Paper: Ernest Miller Hemingway

Famous People

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Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. His
father was the owner of a prosperous real estate business. His father, Dr.
Hemingway, imparted to Ernest the importance of appearances, especially in
public. Dr. Hemingway invented surgical forceps for which he would not accept
money. He believed that one should not profit from something important for the
good of mankind. Ernest's father, a man of high ideals, was very strict and
censored the books he allowed his children to read. He forbad Ernest's sister
from studying ballet for it was coeducational, and dancing together led to
"hell and damnation". Grace Hall Hemingway, Ernest's mother,
considered herself pure and proper. She was a dreamer who was upset at anything
which disturbed her perception of the world as beautiful. She hated dirty
diapers, upset stomachs, and cleaning house; they were not fit for a lady. She
taught her children to always act with decorum. She adored the singing of the
birds and the smell of flowers. Her children were expected to behave properly
and to please her, always. Mrs. Hemingway treated Ernest, when he was a small
boy, as if he were a female baby doll and she dressed him accordingly. This
arrangement was alright until Ernest got to the age when he wanted to be a
"gun-toting Pawnee Bill". He began, at that time, to pull away from
his mother, and never forgave her for his humiliation. The town of Oak Park,
where Ernest grew up, was very old fashioned and quite religious. The
townspeople forbad the word "virgin" from appearing in school books,
and the word "breast" was questioned, though it appeared in the Bible.
Ernest loved to fish, canoe and explore the woods. When he couldn't get outside,
he escaped to his room and read books. He loved to tell stories to his
classmates, often insisting that a friend listen to one of his stories. In spite
of his mother's desire, he played on the football team at Oak Park High School.
As a student, Ernest was a perfectionist about his grammar and studied English
with a fervor. He contributed articles to the weekly school newspaper. It seems
that the principal did not approve of Ernest's writings and he complained,
often, about the content of Ernest's articles. Ernest was clear about his
writing; he wanted people to "see and feel" and he wanted to enjoy
himself while writing. Ernest loved having fun. If nothing was happening,
mischievous Ernest made something happen. He would sometimes use forbidden words
just to create a ruckus. Ernest, though wild and crazy, was a warm, caring
individual. He loved the sea, mountains and the stars and hated anyone who he
saw as a phoney. During World War I, Ernest, rejected from service because of a
bad left eye, was an ambulance driver, in Italy, for the Red Cross. Very much
like the hero of A Farewell to Arms, Ernest is shot in his knee and recuperates
in a hospital, tended by a caring nurse named Agnes. Like Frederick Henry, in
the book, he fell in love with the nurse and was given a medal for his heroism.
Ernest returned home after the war, rejected by the nurse with whom he fell in
love. He would party late into the night and invite, to his house, people his
parents disapproved of. Ernest's mother rejected him and he felt that he had to
move from home. He moved in with a friend living in Chicago and he wrote
articles for The Toronto Star. In Chicago he met and then married Hadley
Richardson. She believed that he should spend all his time in writing, and
bought him a typewriter for his birthday. They decided that the best place for a
writer to live was Paris, where he could devote himself to his writing. He said,
at the time, that the most difficult thing to write about was being a man. They
could not live on income from his stories and so Ernest, again, wrote for The
Toronto Star. Ernest took Hadley to Italy to show her where he had been during
the war. He was devastated, everything had changed, everything was destroyed.
Hadley became pregnant and was sick all the time. She and Ernest decided to move
to Canada. He had, by then written three stories and ten poems. Hadley gave
birth to a boy who they named John Hadley Nicano Hemingway. Even though he had
his family Ernest was unhappy and decided to return to Paris. It was in Paris
that Ernest got word that a publisher wanted to print his book, In Our Time, but
with some changes. The publisher felt that the sex was to blatant, but Ernest
refused to change one word. Around 1925, Ernest started writing a novel about a
young man in World War I, but had to stop after a few pages, and proceeded to
write another novel, instead. This novel was based on his experiences while
living in Pamplona, Spain. He planned on calling this book Fiesta, but changed
the name to The Sun Also Rises, a saying from the Bible. This book, as in his
other books, shows Hemingway obsessed with death. In 1927, Ernest found himself
unhappy with his wife and son. They decided to divorce and he married Pauline, a
woman he had been involved with while he was married to Hadley. A year later,
Ernest was able to complete his war novel which he called A Farewell to Arms.
The novel was about the pain of war, of finding love in this time of pain. It
portrayed the battles, the retreats, the fears, the gore and the terrible waste
of war. This novel was well-received by his publisher, Max Perkins,but Ernest
had to substitute dashes for the "dirty" language. Ernest used his
life when he wrote; using everything he did and everything that ever happened to
him. He nevertheless remained a private person; wanting his stories to be read
but wanting to be left alone. He once said, "Don't look at me. Look at my
words." A common theme throughout Hemingway's stories is that no matter how
hard we fight to live, we end up defeated, but we are here and we must go on. At
age 31 he wrote Death in the Afternoon, about bullfighting in his beloved Spain.
Ernest was a restless man; he traveled all over the United States, Europe, Cuba
and Africa. At the age of 37 Ernest met the woman who would be his third wife;
Martha Gellhorn, a writer like himself. He went to Spain, he said, to become an
"antiwar correspondent", and found that war was like a club where
everyone was playing the same game, and he was never lonely. Martha went to
Spain as a war correspondent and they lived together. He knew that he was
hurting Pauline, but like his need to travel and have new experiences, he could
not stop himself from getting involved with women. In 1940 he wrote For Whom the
Bell Tolls and dedicated it to Martha, whom he married at the end of that year.
He found himself traveling between Havana, Cuba and Ketchum, Idaho, which he did
for the rest of his life. During World War II, Ernest became a secret agent for
the United States. He suggested that he use his boat, the "Pillar", to
surprise German submarines and attack them with hidden machine guns. It was at
this time that Ernest, always a drinker, started drinking most of his days away.
He would host wild, fancy parties and did not write at all during the next three
years. At war's end, Ernest went to England and met an American foreign
correspondent named Mary Welsh. He divorced Martha and married Mary in Havana,
in 1946. Ernest was a man of extremes; living either in luxury or happy to do
without material things. Ernest, always haunted by memories of his mother, would
not go to her funeral when she died in 1951. He admitted that he hated his
mother's guts. Ernest wrote The Old Man and the Sea in only two months. He was
on top of the world, the book was printed by Life Magazine and thousands of
copies were sold in the United States. This novel and A Farewell to Arms were
both made into movies. In 1953 he went on a safari with Mary, and he was in
heaven hunting big game. Though Ernest had a serious accident, and later became
ill, he could never admit that he had any weaknesses; nothing would stop him,
certainly not pain. In 1954 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Toward the
end, Ernest started to travel again, but almost the way that someone does who
knows that he will soon die. He suddenly started becoming paranoid and to forget
things. He became obsessed with sin; his upbringing was showing, but still was
inconsistent in his behavior. He never got over feeling like a bad person, as
his father, mother and grandfather had taught him. In the last year of his life,
he lived inside of his dreams, similar to his mother, who he hated with all his
heart. He was suicidal and had electric shock treatments for his depression and
strange behavior. On a Sunday morning, July 2, 1961, Ernest Miller Hemingway
killed himself with a shotgun. Ernest Hemingway takes much of the storyline of
his novel, A Farewell to Arms, from his personal experiences. The main character
of the book, Frederick Henry, often referred to as Tenete, experiences many of
the same situations which Hemingway, himself, lived. Some of these similarities
are exact while some are less similar, and some events have a completely
different outcome. Hemingway, like Henry, enjoyed drinking large amounts of
alcohol. Both of them were involved in World War I, in a medical capacity, but
neither of them were regular army personnel. Like Hemingway, Henry was shot in
his right knee, during a battle. Both men were Americans, but a difference worth
noting was that Hemingway was a driver for the American Red Cross, while Henry
was a medic for the Italian Army. In real life, Hemingway met his love, Agnes, a
nurse, in the hospital after being shot; Henry met his love, Catherine Barkley,
also a nurse, before he was shot and hospitalized. In both cases, the
relationships with these women were strengthened while the men were
hospitalized. Another difference is that Hemingway's romance was short-lived,
while, the book seemed to indicate that, Henry's romance, though they never
married, was strong and would have lasted. In A Farewell to Arms, Catherine and
her child died while she was giving birth, this was not the case with Agnes who
left Henry for an Italian Army officer. It seems to me that the differences
between the two men were only surface differences. They allowed Hemingway to
call the novel a work of fiction. Had he written an autobiography the book would
probably not have been well-received because Hemingway was not, at that time, a
well known author. Although Hemingway denied critics' views that A Farewell to
Arms was symbolic, had he not made any changes they would not have been as
impressed with the war atmosphere and with the naivete of a young man who
experiences war for the first time. Hemingway, because he was so private,
probably did not want to expose his life to everyone, and so the slight changes
would prove that it was not himself and his own experiences which he was writing
about. I believe that Hemingway had Catherine and her child die, not to look
different from his own life, but because he had a sick and morbid personality.
There is great power in being an author, you can make things happen which do not
necessarily occur in real life. It is obvious that Hemingway felt, as a young
child and throughout his life, powerless, and so he created lives by writing
stories. Hemingway acted out his feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness by
hunting, drinking, spending lots of money and having many girlfriends. I think
that Hemingway was obsessed with death and not too sane. His obsession shows
itself in the morbid death of Miss Barkley and her child. Hemingway was probably
very confused about religion and sin and somehow felt or feared that people
would or should be punished for enjoying life's pleasures. Probably, the
strongest reason for writing about Catherine Barkley's death and the death of
her child was Hemingway's belief that death comes to everyone; it was
inevitable. Death ends life before you have a chance to learn and live. He
writes, in A Farewell to Arms, "They threw you in and told you the rules
and the first time they caught you off base they killed you. ... they killed you
in the end. You could count on that. Stay around and they would kill you."
Hemingway, even in high school, wrote stories which showed that people should
expect the unexpected. His stories offended and angered the principal of his
school. I think that Hemingway liked shocking and annoying people; he was
certainly rebellious. If he would have written an ending where Miss Barkley and
her child had lived, it would have been too easy and common; Hemingway was
certainly not like everyone else, and he seemed to be proud of that fact. Even
the fact that Hemingway wrote curses and had a lot of sex in his books shows
that he liked to shock people. When his publisher asked that he change some
words and make his books more acceptable to people, Hemingway refused, then was
forced to compromise. I think that the major difference between Hemingway and
Henry was that Henry was a likable and normal person while Hemingway was strange
and very difficult. Hemingway liked doing things his way and either people had
to accept him the way he was or too bad for them. I think that Hemingway
probably did not even like himself and that was one reason that he couldn't
really like other people. Hemingway seemed to use people only for his own
pleasure, and maybe he wanted to think that he was like Henry who was a nicer
person. In the book, Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms,
Malcolm Cowley focuses on the symbolism of rain. He sees rain, a frequent
occurrence in the book, as symbolizing disaster. He points out that, at the
beginning of A Farewell to Arms, Henry talks about how "things went very
badly" and how this is connected to "At the start of the winter came
permanent rain". Later on in the book we see Miss Barkley afraid of rain.
She says, "Sometimes I see me dead in it", referring to the rain. It
is raining the entire time Miss Barkley is in childbirth and when both she and
her baby die. Wyndham Lewis, in the same book of critical essays, points out
that Hemingway is obsessed with war, the setting for much of A Farewell to Arms.
He feels that the author sees war as an alternative to baseball, a sport of
kings. He says that the war years "were a democratic, a levelling,
school". For Hemingway, raised in a strict home environment, war is a
release; an opportunity to show that he is a real man. The essayist, Edgar
Johnson says that for the loner "it is society as a whole that is rejected,
social responsibility, social concern" abandoned. Lieutenant Henry, like
Hemingway, leads a private life as an isolated individual. He socializes with
the officers, talks with the priest and visits the officer's brothel, but those
relationships are superficial. This avoidance of real relationships and
involvement do not show an insensitive person, but rather someone who is
protecting himself from getting involved and hurt. It is clear that in all of
Hemingway's books and from his own life that he sees the world as his enemy.
Johnson says, "He will solve the problem of dealing with the world by
taking refuge in individualism and isolated personal relationships and
sensations". John Killinger says that it was inevitable that Catherine and
her baby would die. The theme, that a person is trapped in relationships, is
shown in all Hemingway's stories. In A Farewell to Arms Catherine asks Henry if
he feels trapped, now that she is pregnant. He admits that he does, "maybe
a little". This idea, points out Killinger, is ingrained in Hemingway's
thinking and that he was not too happy about fatherhood. In Cross Country Snow,
Nick regrets that he has to give up skiing in the Alps with a male friend to
return to his wife who is having a baby. In Hemingway's story Hills Like White
Elephants the man wants his sweetheart to have an abortion so that they can
continue as they once lived. In To Have and Have Not, Richard Gordon took his
wife to "that dirty aborting horror". Catherine's death, in A Farewell
to Arms, saves the author's hero from the hell of a complicated life. 
Bibliography
Peter Buckley, Ernest, The Dial Press: 1978, p.96. Peter Buckley, p.97 .
Peter Buckley, p.98. Peter Buckley, p.104. Peter Buckley, p.104. Peter Buckley,
p.112. Peter Buckley, p.114. Peter Buckley, p.117. Peter Buckley, p.123. Peter
Buckley, p.127. Peter Buckley, p.129. Peter Buckley, p.135. Peter Buckley,
p.138. Peter Buckley, p.144. Peter Buckley, p.152. Peter Buckley, p.152. Peter
Buckley, p.154. Peter Buckley, p.160. Malcolm Cowley, "Rain as
Disaster", Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms, Jay
Gellens, Prentice-Hall, Inc.:1970, pp.54-55. Wyndham Lewis, "The Dumb Ox in
Love and War", Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms, Jay
Gellens, Prentice-Hall, Inc.:1970, p.76. Edgar Johnson, "Farewell the
Separate Peace", Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms,
Jay Gellens, Prentice-Hall, Inc.:1970, pp.112-113. John Killinger, "The
Existential Hero", Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Farewell to Arms,
Jay Gellens, Prentice-Hall, Inc.:1970, pp.103-105
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