Short Questions on Ernest Hemmingway's Short Stories

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                Robert Chen @ Zwe Kyaw Zwa

Discussion Questions for Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

  1. What “American characters” – in both the individual and the cultural senses – do u find in Hemingway’s short stories?

American men are often portrayed in Hemingway’s short stories as masculine, rich, and carefree drunkards who seldom have any sympathy on their partners. For example, both Harry from ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro,’ and Hubert Elliot from ‘Mr. and Mrs. Elliot,’ have indulged themselves in drinking alcohol after they have lost their interest in their love. Harry has, in fact, never take a liking to his wife whom he has married just because of her wealth while Hubert, on the other hand, has done so just to get a child.

On the contrary, American women tend to be helpless; dependent on men, some being obsessed with them either because of true love or again, richness. Helen from ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ is a fine example of a woman who is extremely dedicated to her husband, Harry, who has no sign of passion for her. However, in the initial part of ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,’ Margot is a stronger character than her husband, Macomber, as she dominates his life in order to possess his wealth.

  1. Appraise your preconceptions of Hemingway. To what degree do you think your notions of the man coloured your views of the fiction? As you turned (or returned) to the short stories and tried to divorce past judgments or prejudices from present reading, what did you discover?

Each and every Hemingway’s short story appears to be colored with the reflections of his actual lifestyle. Notable themes namely decay and death represent the numerous despairs he has faced in his life. For instance, in ‘The Hills of Kilimanjaro,’ the inevitable death of Williamson when hit by a stick bomb, exemplifies Hemingway’s weary past when he was a soldier in World War I. ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber’ reflects Hemingway’s personality of enjoying hunting and living outdoors. In addition, his travel to Paris is also represented by Harry’s own vacation when he was a young author in ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro.’

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Even when all the past judgments and partialities have been stripped off from present readings, Hemingway’s stories are still distinguishable from other stories in the way that they have been written; the excessive use of dialogues with little description or character introduction, as well as the presence of significant themes of dread such as those mentioned above.

  1. As you read Hemingway’s short stories, what has he left out? Why has he included what he has included? Do you always agree with his choices?

The significance of Hemingway’s short stories is the lack of an introduction either to ...

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