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20100302-1230 Hemingway (Group 3)

Page history last edited by Ashley MacCheyne 10 years, 9 months ago


We began class with a discussion of the impact of World War I on the Modernist movement. The United States entered the war in 1917, and within one year 365,000 American troops had lost their lives. The war's magnitude and astounding death toll led to a shift in world view and artistic representation; no one saw the world in quite the same way ever again.


Ernest Hemingway became an ambulance driver for the Red Cross and was wounded within two weeks of arriving in Italy. He returned to America and worked as a reporter before moving with his wife to Paris. Central to Hemingway's popularity and canonization is his simple, concise, often poetic style. His concise style was probably influenced by his profession as a reporter. He had to send his stories back to America through telegrams, which charged per word, so he was forced to eliminate unnecessary words.


Hemingway wrote according to the iceberg principle, requiring readers to scrape past the surface in order to find what the story is really about.  Something that was brought up a few times in class was the effect of war on soldiers.  We discussed that soldiers often came home with unseen injuries and that Hemingway used his iceberg principal in order to show this occurrence in his character Nick.  In “Now I lay me” Nick fears his soul being taken out of his body if he sleeps, and has ever since he “had been blown up at night”.   This fear can be interpreted as post traumatic stress disorder as a result of direct conflict, and the underlying reason for Nick’s insomnia.   



Word Count: 269




"... Nick had wondered about them as he walked, without really thinking about them.  Now, as he watched the black hopper that was nibbling at the wool of his sock with its fourway lip, he realized that they had all turned black from living in the burned over land.  He realized that the fire must have come the year before, but the grasshoppers were all black now.  He wondered how long they would stay that way."


This passage parallels the change of the grasshoppers with the way Nick feels about the changes he has been through.  Nick sees the change in the grasshoppers and wonders how long they will be black, much like he realizes the changes in himself and wonders when he will change back.  The color of the grasshoppers is an adaptive change due to the burning of the city, which can be paralleled to what happened to Nick in the war- he had to adapt to survive. 


 "He had not been unhappy all day. This was different though. Now things were done. There had been this to do. Now it was done. It had been a hard trip. He was very tired. That was done. He made his camp. He was settled. Nothing could touch him. It was a good place to camp. He was there, in the good place. He was in his home where he had made it. Now he was hungry."


This passage aptly characterizes Hemingway's style of writing in its simplicity and repetitiveness, for example in the reiteration of things being "done". Also, in Now I Lay Me, Nick is described as an insomniac. In this passage, the sentence order indicates the act of becoming tired as a task that Nick accomplishes purposefully on his journey.


Key Terms


"Iceberg principle"- this is Hemingway's philosophy that pieces of a story can be omitted if the author recognizes the omission and it strengthens the story and makes readers feel something more than they understand. The story itself is the tip of the iceberg; a deeper understanding lies beneath the surface. For example, the reader is never told in Big Two-Hearted River that Nick has been to war, but Hemingway gives various clues and hints that this is the case.


A quote from Hemingway about the iceberg principle: "You can omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understand."

Comments (5)

taylor said

at 8:44 pm on Mar 2, 2010

I started the summary, but didn't get to the actual texts we discussed, so if my part is a little long-winded, feel free to cut some to make room for an actual summary of our textual analysis.
Also, I added one passage and one term.

Ashley MacCheyne said

at 10:42 pm on Mar 2, 2010

I added a second passage. I will check back late tomorrow evening to see if there are any holes that need to be filled.

Jenna Lappi said

at 12:29 am on Mar 3, 2010

I edited and added a bit to the summary. I also followed up the definition with the quote from Hemingway. Looks great so far.

Ashley MacCheyne said

at 3:08 am on Mar 4, 2010

I added a bit more to the summary as well as edited the first passage a bit more. If you want to cut things to make room or edit what I added, feel free.

Brian Croxall said

at 11:54 pm on Mar 4, 2010

These notes do a generally good job of covering the main topics that we touched on in class. The summary is short but to the point. There are some sentences that I would have probably written differently...but that's neither here nor there. You touch on all of the major subjects for our day's discussion: the effect of WWI on modernism, Hemingway's style, and the story itself. I would have liked to see you mention here that the war is never mention in "BTHR" as that makes it more plain how the iceberg principle is working.

Your first passage is well written. I would have liked you to be a bit more clear with the second in pointing out that this passage is both a good example of Hemingway's minimalist style and of the iceberg principle in action. And since you didn't have a third quotation, I would probably suggest one looking at the fish. They seemed to be important.

You might have thrown "isolationist" into the key terms for good measure. On the whole, however, you've done well.

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