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Hemingway's Descriptive technique

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The First World War wreaked more havoc and destruction than the world had ever seen before. All around them, people could only see death and devastation. The existing moral structure and value systems were coming crumbling down as men killed fellow men without so much as a second thought. This led to people questioning faith, religion, and the existence of God. They began to feel that if there really was a God, then surely he would stop the pain and suffering that man was facing at that time? A movement slowly began to sweep over Europe, where people began to re-think and question the very meaning of life. This school of thought came to be known as Existentialism. Very similar to Existentialism, was Modernism. The Modernists were people who revolted against the music, art and architecture of the times, and targeted mainly the classical and romantic strains of literature. They were people who were depressed and disillusioned by the militarism of the times, and challenged fundamental values such as progress and enlightenment. Like the Existentialists, they too did not believe in the existing set of rules and morals that governed society, and believed it was time for a change. ...read more.


In this manner, Hemingway uses Rinaldi as a foil to bring out and emphasize the change and growth that has taken place in Henry. In Book Three of the novel, Henry and Catherine's romantic interlude has ended, and the focus shifts once more from love to war. It is once again Autumn, and "the trees were all bare and the roads were muddy;" Hemingway continues with his use of rain and water as a bad omen. Mud here also represents the unclarity and uncertainty of the times. Later, in chapter 28, mud acts as an antagonist of sorts, when the ambulances get stuck in it, and this leads to Henry shooting a fellow Italian officer. The contrast between the plains and the mountains, which Hemingway had established in earlier chapters, is laid out more explicitly here when Henry, while speaking to a driver named Gino, tells him that he does not believe that a war can be fought and won in the mountains. This establishes the mountains not only as a place of peace and tranquility, but also of refuge. ...read more.


we notice that though the entire novel up until that point has been entirely in the first person ("I"), the narration now shifts for a brief moment, and Henry begins to use the words "you" and "we". The result of this is that the reader feels much closer to Henry, and gets a chance to put himself in Henry's shoes. Its as if Hemingway wants us all to be Fredrick Henry, if only for a moment. At the end of Book Three, we see Henry traveling in a train car used to transport guns, and thinking quietly about what he has just done, and about his love for Catherine. Again, Hemingway uses the second-person narrative, as Henry justifies his desertion to himself by thinking, "You were out of it now, you had no more obligation." Thus, Hemingway effectively utilizes these various descriptive techniques and employs them to peel away the layers of glory and honour that surround the war, instead showing us the honest, brutal face of war. The novel reaches its climax in Book Three, and we see descending action from here onwards. Essay 03/09/08 10:19 PM 03/09/08 10:19 PM 03/09/08 10:19 PM ...read more.

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