On the date of July 21, 1899 Ernest Hemingway, a now known brilliant writer, was
born. Hemingway was conceivably the only writer to achieve the combination of
international celebrity and literary stature in the twentieth century. Hemingway was
brought up in the village of Oak Park, Illinois, close to the prairies and woods west of
Chicago. Both here and in Michigan, he could explore, camp, fish and hunt with his father,
Dr. Clarence Hemingway. In Chicago he would attend concerts, operas and visit art
museums with his mother, a musician and an artist.
Hemingway attended Oak Park and
River Forest High School, where he was an active writer. He wrote articles, poems and
stories for the school’s publications largely based on his own experiences.
The year Hemingway graduated he quickly secured a job with the Kansas City Star.
There he received a writing style sheet that instructed: “Use short sentences. Use short
first paragraphs. Use vigorous English.” (Parshall 1). These were rules he never forgot to
incorporate into his works to get to the heart of a story.
The following year he entered World War I as a volunteer with American Red
Cross ambulance unit as a driver. There he was wounded near the Italian/Austrian front.
Hospitalized, he fell in love with his nurse, who later called off their relationship.
After World War I, Hemingway returned to northern Michigan to read, write, fish,
and later to work for the Toronto Star in Canada. In 1921 married his first wife and
moved to Paris. In Paris he continued to write for the Toronto Star as a foreign
During his stay in Europe through the 1920’s, Ernest was influenced by eccentric
writers like Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound their literary compression. Hemingway’s use of
these methods in short stories and novels that captured the attention of critics and the
In the 1930’s, he turned to writing for causes, including democracy as he knew it in
the Spanish Civil War and World War II. In each conflict he sought support for the side he
favored. But he insisted on impartially describing the truth of both wars, which he knew
In the years following World War II, many critics said Hemingway’s best writing
was past. He surprised many of the critics when the novel, The Old Man and the Sea, was
published.. This work led to his Pulitzer Prize in 1952. Two years later he received the
Nobel Prize for his “powerful, style-making mastery of the art or modern narration”
(Griffin 1) for The Old Man and the Sea.
Hemingway’s years following these awards saw few works as successful as his
novel or earlier writings. Hemingway was devastated that he could no longer write as he
once did. During 1961 Hemingway, troubled by high blood pressure and mental
depression, received shock treatments during two long confinements at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minnesota. He died July 2, 1961 at his home in Ketchum, Idaho, as a result of
self-inflicted gunshot wounds and was buried in Ketchum. But as he had hoped, his
writing lives on. His works continue to sell very well and are translated in an amazing
variety of languages around the world.
“For Ernest Hemingway, the secondary world which he constructed in his many
stories and novels served as a mirror to reflect his beliefs about the world in which he
lived” (Relations to Fact Through Fiction 1). Even though he reflected his beliefs in his
works he never portrayed himself as the hero. Instead Hemingway created a hero that
followed the same general code in all of his works. We generally, call this man the “code
hero”—this because he represents a code according to which the hero, if he could attain it,
would be able to live properly in the world of violence, disorder, and misery to which he
has been introduced and which he inhabits. The code hero, then, offers up and exemplifies
certain principles of honor, courage, and endurance which in a life of tension and pain
make a man, as we say, and enable him to conduct himself well in the losing battle that is
The Hemingway hero of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is Harry. Harry is self
pitying and views his present diseased state as the culmination of poor choices and false,
convenient values. However, through final, confrontation with his own mortality, he
In “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” Francis is the Hemingway hero
because he had courage and faced his fears. If Francis would not have went out on the
safari the last time and had so much courage his wife would not have shot him. Mrs.
Macomber killed him because she could no longer rule him. With Francis gaining so much
self-esteem he no longer sat back and let his wife cheat on him, without confronting her.
The Italian soldiers in “In Another Country” are the heroes because they were not
afraid to die. The three boys went to war and returned back to Milan with medals for their
Santiago from “The Old Man and the Sea” is a hero because he was courageous
and was not afraid of death. Santiago went out to sea, never gave up, and knew he could
Ole Anderson of “The Killers” does not whimper. He takes the medicine quietly
and is not afraid of death. In “A Farewell to Arms” Henry is not afraid to face death. He
went to war. Later he deserted the Italian Army, knowing that he faced death. He dove
into the river and escaped. He swam to safety and boarded a train to Stresa where he
Hemingway did not only create characters but created himself. The meaning to
that is that he took his life and intertwined it not only into one of his stories but almost all
As a writer, Hemingway drew heavily upon his war experiences, as is seen in his
earlier works that speak of men and women deprived, by World War I, of faith in the moral
values in which they had believed, as well as, of those who lived with hostile disregard for
anything but their own emotional needs.
Many of the situations and characters in A Farewell to Arms came from
Hemingway’s own experience with the war in Italy. Not long after high school Hemingway
volunteered as a Red Cross ambulance driver in 1917. Just like Frederick in the story he is
seriously wounded and taken to get medical care. Henry was posted in northern Italy and,
like Hemingway, received a wound from a mortar round. Even the details of the wound to
the leg are based exactly on the novelist’s own injury. While Hemingway was recovering
he fell in love like Henry. The only exception to that is that the woman Hemingway fell in
love with ran off and became engaged to an Italian nobleman.
“He also drew upon his love of fishing, hunting, and bull fighting, where his
writings tell of men with simple characters and primitive emotions, such as prizefighters
and bullfighters” (Roberts 8). He wrote of their courageous and usually futile battles
against circumstances. In The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other stories Hemingway looked
back on his African safaris from 1934.
Most of the source material for The Old Man and the Sea comes from
Hemingway’s own experiences fishing off the coast of Cuba. Hemingway spent more than
two decades of his life living on the island, and fishing was one of his favorite activities.
Another episode in 1940 may have also served as a source for the novel. Hemingway
witnessed a man and a boy in a small boat being dragged by a fish that the man had
hooked. When Hemingway approached to try to help, the man had screamed at him to stay
away. Hemingway watched the struggle for half the day, finally pulling his own boat close
enough to throw some provisions into the boat of the embattled fisherman and boy.
Beginning with the illustrative story and perhaps this experience, Hemingway added deeper
elements from the environment to flesh out Santiago’s character and develop the action of
In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” Harry himself regards his life as a failure. “He has
prostituted his art”: each day of not writing, of comfort, of being that which he despised,
dulled his ability and softened his will to work so that, finally, he did no work at all. The
months and years of idleness slip by. He never acts, he never loves, he never carries out his
plans. He returns to Africa simply because he had once been happy there, and he thinks
perhaps there he can work the fat off his soul. Scorning the challenge of real life all around
him, he postpones writing the stories he knows, and he postpones loving an eminently
lovable woman simply because she is his and is available at the present moment. Harry
then becomes infected with the disease called gangrene. He lays on his cot where he
flashes back to scenes from his life that he has saved to write, taking pleasure in their
recall but knowing he will never write about them. He dreams of his younger days when
he was capable of fulfilling and remaining true to his talent. Therefore the theme is don’t
put off what you could have done today to do tomorrow.
Always have courage and face your fears in life is the lesson from “The Short
Happy Life of Francis Macomber”. Francis Macomber was a wealthy American on a
safari with his beautiful, unloving wife, Margot. On one of the first days out Macomber
flees away as fast as possible to get away from the lion instead of shooting due to his fears.
This is similar to how he ignores his wife’s cheating habits instead of confronting her.
Later on Macomber has the chance to live up to his fears again which he does, by facing a
buffalo and his wife (when he realized she was in Wilson’s tent one night).
You may not always know one’s true background and what is really happening in
their life. That is a theme for “In Another Country”. The narrator for the story is in Milan
for rehabilitation where he meets an Italian Soldier, a champion fencer, whose hand has
been wounded while at war that is also in rehabilitation. The recovering of his hand does
not seem to have the slimmest effect on him at all. That does not seem to be right thought
the narrator, for a champion fencer to lose his hand and not care.
The narrator works at his rehabilitation while the soldier believes it will never work.
One day while the narrator is working at his rehabilitation he starts to give up hope. The
soldier then starts yelling at him about how dumb he is because eventually it will work.
The soldier goes to make a phone call after the fight. After his phone call he apologizes to
the narrator for yelling and tells him that he has just lost his wife. The narrator then
realizes that the soldier wasn’t worried about losing his hand he was more worried about
Never give up no matter what the odds point to. This theme refers back to “The
Old Man and the Sea”. Santiago went over 80 days without catching fish, but he would
not give up. People would talk about him, but he still went on and didn’t let them get to
him. When Santiago set out on the eighty-fifth day he never thought about catching a
marlin as big as he did. After being out for several days people were amazed when he
returned home with the marlin skeleton, even though it was just the skeleton. People told
Lost love can be found but not always kept. This theme acquired from “A
Farewell to Arms”. When Henry and Catherine meet for the first time Henry tries to
seduce her. Henry then has to leave for war. Henry then was sent to Milan after leg
wounds to recover. That is where he meets up with her again by a coincidence. There
they began a passionate affair and fall deeply in love with each other. Henry is then sent
back to war after his recuperation. Henry is so much in love he deserts the Italian Army
and escapes to Stresa to reunite with Catherine. Catherine at this point is pregnant with
their child. They escape to Switzerland together where Catherine goes into labor. Things
go terribly wrong while in labor and both Catherine and the baby dies.
The theme for “The Killers” is sometimes death isn’t supposed to happen. Ole
wasn’t at the restaurant where he normally goes the night Al and Max planned on killing
“In Hemingway the symbols are implicit: they follow the laws of reality to such
degree that in themselves they form a whole, full-blooded story” (Esther Murer 4). The
reader is at “liberty” to discover that he is dealing with very profound and true symbols.
Most readers do not discover it at all, and read Hemingway just about the same way they
Like the Macombers, Harry and Helen would seem to be an ideal couple with
everything to live for. But Harry is a morally sick man; his physical wound is symbolic of
his inner illness. The wound to his leg epitomize his sickness, for it is a type of wound and
has been subconsciously self-inflicted. (Harry had neglected a thorn scratch and then
treated it improperly.) Like Francis Macomber he has been partially responsible for the loss
of his manhood, and he has, or imagines he has, a devouring mate eager to seize any sexual
advantage. (The Snows of Kilimanjaro)
In “In Another Country” a symbol is when the Italian soldier returns three days
after, after hearing his wife was dead wearing a black band on his sleeve to signify
Santiago is a symbol of Jesus showing how both of them went through so much
suffering. When he returns home after catching the marlin he carries part of the boat up
over his shoulder and that symbolizes Jesus being crucified. Santiago has to stop several
times to take a drink of water symbolizing the people giving Jesus a drink while he was on
When Catherine dies, Henry is forced to face death. It said her body was like a
In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” Harry is the type of man that believes he can
handle anything that he doesn’t have to worry about those so-called “minor” things in life.
Due to his carelessness he became infected with gangrene. As a result to his heedless
actions he died because he never took care of a “minor” thing.
In “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” it’s ironic how Macomber first
fails and then succeeds in hunting, develops self-respect, but has his life ended just when it
began to be enjoyable. What is meant by that is that Macomber first scurries away from his
fears. He then becomes so fed up with his wife’s comments he goes out and challenges his
fears by winning, and gains self-esteem. His wife is so distraught that he did this that she
“In Another Country” a soldier , a champion fencer, went to war knowing he was
facing death but didn’t worry about it. As a result he had to leave war because he had a
wounded hand and had to be put in rehabilitation. At this point he was aware of the fact
that his wife was sick. He went to phone her and was then notified by the doctor that she
The irony of “The Old Man and the Sea” is that Santiago worked so hard to keep
the marlin and all he returns home with is the skeleton. It all began on Santiago’s
eighty-fifth day he caught a marlin bigger than any other marlin he has ever seen. Santiago
goes through two days and two nights of the pain of his shoulders, back, and hands
because the marlin is to big to just tie the line to the boat. When he finally kills the marlin
he ties it to the boat. Later sharks come along and take the marlin bite by bite. He was
able to kill only a couple of the sharks but then he became to be too much. Eventually
there was nothing left of the marlin but the skeleton.
It’s ironic how Henry and Catherine go through so much together but yet can’t
spend many years together. They are only together for a short time but still have a deep
In “The Killers” it’s ironic how where Ole was supposed to be killed was a saloon.
A saloon used to be a place where shootings happened a lot. It’s also ironic how Ole
didn’t show the night the men planned on killing him.
In both “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis
Macomber” the setting is in Africa during the 1920’s while game hunting with their wives
coming along on the trip. The importance of the setting in “The Short Happy Life of
Francis Macomber” is that if Francis did not go on the safari he would have never
conquered his fears. If Harry had never returned to Africa, he would have never been
Both “A Farewell to Arms” and “In Another Country” takes place in Milan during
World War I and II. All the main characters are at the health centers either working or
“The Killers” took place in an American city around the 1920’s.
“The Old Man and the Sea” takes place off the coast of Cuba where Santiago
catches the Marlin. Santiago is from a small fishing town that doesn’t have much to offer.
Most of the people around there fish for a living. With Santiago going eighty-four days
without catching any fish it is hard for him to survive. If it wasn’t for Manolin he would
have nothing to eat and no way of buying fishing bait.
In A Farewell To Arms the novel follows the classic romance formula until
Hemingway alters the last chapter. The classic romance formula to many would be: man
meets woman, man loses woman, man gets women back. The man in this novel is
Frederick Henry, one of the central characters and the narrator. Catherine Barkley is the
Frederick is a young American ambulance driver with the Italian army in World
War I. The Italians are fighting in the Austrian War. While working on the front lines
Frederick meets a beautiful Red Cross nurse named Catherine Barkley, whose fiancee has
already been killed at the battle of the Somme. Henry is immediately attracted to her and
at first tries to seduce her as if it was a game to him.
Henry becomes wounded by a trench mortar shell and is taken to a hospital in
Milan to recuperate, there he meets up with Catherine again who is working at the
hospital. Henry and Catherine begin a passionate affair but he has to leave Catherine when
he has recovered to return to the war front.
The Italian forces are defeated by the Austrians and Germans and have to retreat
hastily. The Italian forces become disordered and chaotic. Henry is forced to shoot an
engineer sergeant under his command. In the confusion he is arrested by the Italian
Military police and charged with the crime of not being an Italian.
Henry , knowing he faces death, dives into the river and escapes. He swims to
safety and boards a train to Stresa. He reunites with Catherine, who is then pregnant with
With the help of an Italian bartender, they escape to Switzerland, a neutral country
war. In Switzerland they forget the past and Henry’s troubles. The two of them live
happily and plan to marry after the baby is born.
When Catherine goes into labor, however, things have an unexpectable turn, a turn
for the worse. The doctor announced that her pelvic was too narrow to deliver the baby.
He attempts an unsuccessful Cesarean section, and Catherine dies in childbirth. “To
Henry, her dead body is like a statue; he walks back to his hotel without finding a way to
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Cite this Life and Career of Ernest Hemingway
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