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Nature as a Godly Being in the Works of Hemingway

Many of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories and novels involve nature as a powerful influence in the lives of the characters, whether it is as the setting in Across the River and Into the Trees, in a more active role as the prey, such as in The Old Man and the Sea, or both, as depicted in The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The quintessential outdoorsman himself, Hemingway’s early exposure to nature has significantly shaped his perception of the relationship between man and nature. In particular, Hemingway acknowledges the dualism present in nature: it provides sustenance, life, and gifts man with its resources—yet it plagues cities with its illnesses, drowns men in its turbulent seas, and steals the life out of the living. The power of nature is unrivaled, and its ability to give and take life echoes the qualities of a godly being. A closer inspection of The Old Man and the Sea and The Snows of Kilimanjaro reveals that to Hemingway, nature giveth, and nature taketh.

The role of nature as a godly entity is most evident in Hemingway’s characters’ interactions with their environments. In The Old Man and the Sea, the elderly fisherman Santiago’s primary companion while on land is Manolin, his faithful apprentice who holds Santiago in the highest regard despite his ill fortune with fishing. Manolin praises Santiago with words such as, “There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you.” (The Old Man and the Sea, 25). However, as Santiago ventures out far into the ocean in search of a larger catch, his companion shifts to the ocean and wildlife around him. The relationship with his companion at sea is quite different from that which he experiences on land, and Santiago refers to the ocean as “something that gave or withheld great favours” (The Old Man and the Sea, 33). This thought hints at the godly role that nature plays, giving and taking.

Nature still acts as a godly entity in The Snows of Kilimanjaro to Henry, the protagonist dying from a gangrenous infection in the African wilderness, albeit with a relationship different from that found in The Old Man and the Sea. Henry has taken advantage of nature on an exotic hunting trip, killing wildlife for sport. In a seemingly punitive turn of events, Henry contracts gangrene from a cut, and death approaches him throughout the short story. Even in a literal sense, death approaches in the form of a hyena, as Henry perceived “vile-smelling emptiness and the odd thing was that the hyena slipped lightly along the edge of it” (Kilimanjaro 4). Henry ultimately dies from his infection, perhaps as punishment from nature for his wanton taking of nature’s resources. Nature appears to be more forgiving to Santiago, who fishes for a living, and lives a life of simplicity and gratitude. His respect for nature is obvious, as he speaks with great reverence and love for the ocean, as seen by his thought “…loved green turtles and hawk-bills with their elegance and speed and their great value and he had a friendly contempt for the huge, stupid logger-heads…” (The Old Man and the Sea, 40). In contrast to Henry’s gangrenous infection, Santiago receives the gift of the largest fish he has ever hooked for his long withstanding respect for nature. This form of reward and punishment delegated for devout followers and heretics by a larger entity is reminiscent of nature as a god-like entity.

The exploration of one’s own religion can increase the personal value of their belief system. As Leo Gurko astutely observes, the ocean similarly provides greater resources the further out one explores (Old Man and the Sea, 12). Santiago captures smaller tuna when he is closer to the shore, while he is quite far out at sea when he first hooks the swordfish—analogous to how one may find greater connection to their god(s) after further pursuing the depths of his/her religion, while a weaker relation to religion may yield fewer spiritual rewards. Santiago’s voyage may appear fruitless in terms of fish captured—yet his experience in sympathizing with the ocean and its creatures, and increased respect for nature is the significant spiritual reward.

Nature also consistently challenges man’s resolve in Hemingway’s works, quite similarly to God in biblical literature. In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago finally manages to reel in the swordfish, when sharks attack his catch. It is possible to argue that the trials of the sea are merely due to the seemingly random, animalistic behavior that maintains the ecosystem. Santiago even mentions in passing that he perceives the sea to do “wild or wicked things” because “she could not help them”, and appears to regard the sea as an external variable that cannot be controlled or predicted, prone to random behavior (The Old Man and the Sea, 33). The old man fights valiantly against the onslaught of sharks, but is unable to protect his catch.  And yet, Santiago maintains his faith and trust for the sea, and discusses acquiring “a good killing lance” and plans for a future fishing expedition. Santiago’s resilience following this trial resonates with God challenging Abraham’s dedication by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Both Santiago and Abraham are challenged in their faith and perseverance respectively, and are able to rise above the trial. An alternate view could consider the herds of sharks as punishment from nature for hunting such a marvelous fish (Burhans, 2). However, it is more likely that the sharks were another test of Santiago’s resolve, as Santiago is rewarded with the ability to truly reflect on the spiritual value of his struggles and his relationship with the sea. He even bears the mast across his shoulders as he climbs back ashore from his expedition, suggesting Santiago to be a Christ-like figure, who has been tested for his faith and perseverance, and rewarded with enlightenment through trials (The Old Man and the Sea, 134). Though the essence of the challenges is quite different, one of determination and the other of faith, nature nonetheless challenges man in a godly manner.

It is also significant to note that Henry is also challenged by nature, as he is afflicted with gangrene on an African safari. Henry is unable to surmount this challenge, and witnesses the wildlife around him stirring to life as his dwindles away. Vultures orbit the campsite, and hyenas lurk in the perimeter—signs from nature foreshadowing his impending doom. Henry’s inability to survive raises the question: Why was Santiago able to withstand the challenge of nature, while Henry was not? The answer lies possibly in the difference in character between the two individuals. The appreciative, revering Santiago is cognizant of nature’s power and gifts, while Henry defiles nature by hunting rare animals for sport. Perhaps Harry is not worthy of nature’s challenge, and was accordingly punished by nature, while Santiago was rewarded for his reverence.

Santiago prays to God for luck on reeling in the enormous fish as he struggles, and is “feeling much better” regarding his circumstance after praying (The Old Man and the Sea, 72). Though Santiago may appear to be a religious individual, the explicit offhand mentions of religion in The Old Man and the Sea implicate nature as the central, overarching power rather than religion. Most notable is Santiago’s offer to “say ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys” in the event that he reels in this fish. (The Old Man and the Sea, 71). To Santiago, religion is more of a peripheral existence in life rather than a deep-seated way of life to be abided by strictly (Heroic Impulse, 377). Such prayers are generally said following confession to a priest in Catholicism and are most likely present due to Hemingway’s Catholic upbringing. Perhaps the sea is Santiago’s church, where he comes to confess and absolve his sins. This further implicates nature, specifically the sea, as a sacred religious entity. To Hemingway, nature is a more appropriate entity to confess and pray to, rather than the church. Santiago’s willingness to casually exchange his devotion to God through prayer for luck in reeling in a fish demonstrates the lack of gravity God’s existence holds to him. He even remarks, “Hail Marys are easier to say than Our Fathers” (The Old Man and the Sea, 72). Santiago’s greatest concern in saying prayer is the ease with which they are said—a testament to the minor role of the typical concept of religion.

Henry’s final vision before his death also suggests the greater significance of nature as a religious entity over God. The classic imagery of death is a white light or tunnel, ascending to what is presumably heaven or some sort of afterlife. Instead of ascending towards the light, Harry envisions a beautiful natural landscape, “all he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro. And then he knew that there was where he was going.” (Kilimanjaro 7) To Henry, heaven was the peak of Kilimanjaro, which mirrors many qualities of heaven: brilliantly white, high, and encompassing. The concept of religion and God are surmounted by the brilliance and pervasiveness of nature in The Old Man and the Sea and The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

In these two works, nature resembles a god-like entity, and is a more focal existence than the typical concept of religion and God. Nature giveth, and nature taketh. Nature challenges the resolve of man, and yields greater depth when explored deeply. Santiago engages nature in conversation, in a one-sided dialogue resembling prayer to a higher power. It is clear that to the characters in Hemingway’s writings, nature is the driving force behind life and death. This in turn raises the question: Why is nature more powerful than God?

Hemingway’s exposure to nature and its sheer power and beauty are likely to have influenced his decision to implement nature as such a powerful force in his literature. Nature’s ability to influence the lives of individuals in drastic ways, and the aforementioned qualities nature possesses may have proved to be a more secular, concrete concept to believe in. Hemingway’s economic writing style suggests an underlying affinity for pragmatism and realism, making nature the more powerful and prevalent force in his works.

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Burhams, Charles. The Old Man and the Sea: Hemingway’s Tragic Vision of Man. American Literature. 31. (1960). 446-455. 5 May, 2014.

Gurko, Leo. The Old Man and the Sea. College English. 17. (1955) 11-15. 5 May, 2014.

Gurko, Leo. The Heroic Impulse in “The Old Man and the Sea”. The English Journal. 44 (1995). 377-382. 5 May, 2014.

Hemingway, Ernest. “The Old Man and the Sea”. New York: Charles Schuber’s Sons, 1952. Print.

Hemingway, Ernest. The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Xroards Virginia, 2 February, 1998. 5 May, 2014. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/heming.html>

 

 

 

 

 

The Normalcy of Absurdity in “The Semplica-Girl Diaries” and Relevance to Slavery

Quite prominent to me through this story was the sheer, inhumane absurdity of the concept of the Semplica-Girls, and the ideas surrounding this notion. The narrator begins his journaling in a rather difficult financial situation, rueing the wealth disparity between his family and their friends. He marvels at the grandiose birthday party, and it is clear that his entire family feels equally deflated as the protagonist following the lavish party, evident in the comment “Do not really like rich people, as they make us poor people feel dopey and inadequate.” and “Kids only slumped past and stood exhausted by front door.” The narrator strikes gold in a lottery scratch off, and decides to invest in the coveted Semplica-Girls. The concept of a Semplica-Girl is quite horrifying; a woman from a poorer country allegedly selling herself to support a family back at home to have a doctor “route microline through brain” to cause some sort of cognitive deficit.

Yet the protagonist continues to rationalize the process, claiming that it “does no damage, and causes no pain” and waves back to a Semplica-Girl “ like, In this household, is O.K. to wave” as if though he is being a merciful individual by permitting the Semplica-Girl to wave. The sheer absurdity of the concept and how it is a coveted, normal practice is striking, and echoes some of the concepts of slavery. Slaves were a luxury only available to the upper class plantation owners, much like the wealthy families in Saunders’ story. In addition, the (at least from current perspective and hindsight) perplexing detachment and dehumanizing attitudes adopted by the owners of the Semplica-Girls reflects the notion that slaves were lesser beings undeserving of equal rights. Another aspect of the story seeming to reflect the concept of slavery is the advocacy groups against the Semplica-Girls. During the eras of slavery, there certainly were groups of individuals that were against the ownership of slaves, much like the “Women4Women, Citizens for Economic Parity, Semplica Rots in Hell.” in Saunders’ story.

Perhaps Saunders is highlighting the sheer absurdity of the era of slavery, and the unfortunate normalcy with which it was regarded by establishing the ownership of Semplica-Girls as a coveted luxuries in his short story.

The Significance of Ambiguity in Recitatif

The central motif of ambiguity is utilized by Morrison in “Recitatif” to cause the reader to question racial boundaries, and promote the idea that race is a superficial quality. Morrison purposefully does not explicitly mention the races of Roberta or Twyla. She only mentions them in the story as “salt and pepper”, and never clarifies whether Roberta and Twyla are white or black. Any descriptions of the characters, such as “Her own hair was so big and wild I could hardly see her face”.  and “her big serious looking eyes” are racially neutral, and could apply to individuals of any race. This ambiguity persists through the encounters Twyla and Roberta have through the years: meeting at the diner, the grocery store, etc.

The tone of the penultimate encounter is quite different, as the two run into each other at a protest against integration. Roberta is protesting the integration, while Twyla ultimately joins the other side. Twyla is accused of hypocrisy, considering she had kicked Maggie. Another layer of ambiguity again emerges-Maggie’s race. This ambiguity is directly addressed by the characters in the story, Twyla replies “She wasn’t black” when Roberta accuses her of kicking a helpless black woman. The issue appears to be whether or not Magie was black, not the fact that they had kicked an old woman. Morrison callas attention to the idea that the characters are fixated on Maggie’s race, which does not worsen/better the fact that they kicked Maggie. Morrison may be suggesting the insignificance of race, as the encounter at the protest induces even more confusion over what race Roberta and Twyla are. In fact, Morrison may be hoping the reader gives up on attempting to figure out the race of the characters, as it is irrelevant in both the story and in daily life.

 

 

Revised: A Close Analysis of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”

The protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” finds himself dying with a gangrenous infection, stranded in the African wilderness with his wife and several guides, facing imminent death. He responds to his wife’s genuine concern with sarcasm and nihilistic acceptance of death. It is easy to quickly dismiss Harry’s behavior as crass and tactless, especially from the dialogue. He even initially chooses to trivialize the direness of his situation, and makes unreasonable comments such as, “What about a drink?” and, “What the hell should I fool with broth for? Molo bring whiskey-soda,” to the great dismay of his wife. And yet, Harry appears to intermittently make kind remarks to his wife, such as , “You shoot marvelously, you know.”  Despite Harry’s appearance as a nihilistic and inconsiderate individual in Ernest Hemingway’s, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, the author’s usage of dialogue and flashbacks suggest the possibility of Harry  as a character with good intent.

To begin, a closer inspection of Harry’s behavior towards his wife will reveal a deep lack of ill will, and an attempt to reduce her suffering following his death. It is very much possible that Harry has internally accepted his fate from the beginning of the story. Perhaps he continually makes crude remarks that distress Helen to push her away from him as he approaches his demise, in an attempt to minimize the sense of loss that she will experience. When Helen hopefully suggests the possibility of trucks from the village arriving to rescue the members of the expedition, Harry promptly retorts with, “I don’t give a damn about the truck”. He follows this callous remark with, “You give a damn about so many things that I don’t.” On the surface-level, Harry’s comments are both insulting and upsetting to Helen. However, these utterances are prime examples of Harry attempting to soften the blow of his impending death. His nihilistic comments are a method of forcing Helen to accept his death, as acceptance is a significant part of the coping process (though in a latter stage). Harry’s attempts to convince Helen to acknowledge the difficult truth that he will die may be harsh and insensitive, but it is actually an indicator of Harry’s good will, and his desire for her to move on with life after his death. Other examples of this desire are reflected in his other comments such as, “Can’t you let a man die comfortably without calling him names?” and, “Don’t be silly. I’m dying now. Ask those bastards.” When he insults his wife for caring about too many things, Harry is chipping away at the relationship that has grown between them to reduce the impact of his death on her. When an elaborate, beautiful structure such as their relationship shatters suddenly with his death, the fallout will be massive, and Helen would be crushed. Other examples of this behavior include, “You rich bitch,” and, “Your damned money was my armour. My sword and armour.” Harry beginning to carve away at their relationship will render this structure scarred and crumbling, but the aftermath would be significantly less catastrophic. A deeper observation of Harry’s dialogue with Helen reveals a desire to reduce her suffering following his death, rather than callous remarks to increase her suffering.

Dispersed amongst Harry’s seemingly cruel comments is more overt evidence of his good will and care for Helen’s well-being. Despite being in severe pain, Harry is mindful enough to tell her that she, “better put her mosquito boots on,” out of concern for her health. Though it is easy to overlook, the pure selflessness and cognizance Harry demonstrates for Helen’s well-being is astonishing, given his own health circumstances. He also demonstrates genuine concern and care for Helen with his statement, “I love you, really. You know I love you.” The sporadic placement of his overtly caring comments amongst his more frequent negative comments creates an image of Harry attempting to push his wife away to reduce her future suffering, and attempt to instill in her an acceptance of death. However, one can speculate that Harry feels guilt for his cruelty, and it is in these instances that Harry makes an overtly empathetic, caring comment. Hemingway follows the aforementioned line with some insight into Harry’s cognition, which claims that his previous statement was a lie. However, this can also be perceived as Harry’s attempt to convince himself that he does not love Helen. To summarize this notion, Harry is in an emotional situation that is extremely difficult to navigate. He must overtly ridicule and distress his wife to reduce her future suffering, while he also attempts to convince himself that he does not love her, to reduce his own emotional suffering as he dies. The crassness of Harry’s comments belies his truly sensitive and well-meaning nature.

Not only does Harry’s present behavior truly demonstrate his core nature, but Harry’s behavior in the past as depicted through a flashback also further elucidates his capacity for good. When the bombing officer Williamson is gravely wounded, Harry, “gave him all his morphine tablets that he had always saved to use himself…” Harry makes an ultimate sacrifice: he parts with the one saving grace that would have massively dwindled the suffering of death by injury to help comfort his fellow soldier. Not only has Hemingway established Harry’s positive qualities in the present, but the flashbacks prove that Harry is, and has been a good man. It is obvious that Harry is perfectly capable of good, and his selfless behavior in the past serves as significant evidence of this trait.

Hemingway’s protagonist sacrifices for the sake of others in the past and present through the timeline of this short story, presented by the usage of dialogue and flashbacks. Sacrifice for the good of others is one of the supreme indicators of good will and selflessness, two traits that are not immediately perceptible in Harry. However, to completely overlook the sacrifices he has made could be a gross mischaracterization of the individual.

 

Deformation of “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

Original Passage

“That is the tune but there are no words

The words are only speculation

They seek and cannot find the meaning of the music.

We see only postures of the dream.

Riders of the motion that swings the face

Into view under evening skies, with no

False disarray as proof of authenticity

But it is life englobed. ”

Remove the word “word”

“That is the tune but there are no

The  are only speculation

They seek and cannot find the meaning of the music.

We see only postures of the dream.

Riders of the motion that swings the face

Into view under evening skies, with no

False disarray as proof of authenticity

But it is life englobed. ”

When the word “word” is removed from the passage selected, a great deal of ambiguity arises. To me, the passage appeared to be a description of some sort, especially something related to writing. When “word” is removed, the passage could be describing an entirely different concept. Namely, painting/illustrating.

When unaltered, the passage appears to speak on the dichotomy of the concept of writing. The passage states that writing is “only speculation” and is unable to “find the meaning of music”.  Ashbery appears to be rueing the inability of words to always capture the truth and image/concept desired. However, the pure truth is not necessarily always desired. It is important to note that imaginative writing is a significant part of Ashbery’s style. The line “we see only postures of the dream” further creates an image of only a  broad, general outline being visible of a more sophisticated, detailed whole. Ashbery may be asserting that words alone are not precise enough to create a vivid image. The line, “with no False disarray as proof of authenticity” adds another interesting dimension opposite to the list of shortcomings of writings that has developed over this section. The notion that authentic/realistic things (anything really) are inherently flawed in some way is relatively common. Ashbery begins his support for writing with this line, as it can be inferred that the words do not have false disarray, but true disarray, an indicator of authenticity. Lastly, he adds that it is “life englobed”, and encompassing. In summary, Ashbery praises and denounces both the factual and fictional parts of writing, but appears to claim that the summation of each portion is what really matters.

The previously described characteristics can be applied to painting/illustrating, or other forms of art. When “words” is omitted, and the subject of the descriptions become ambiguous,  art becomes a fairly good fit. It can be imaginative (abstract) or factual (still life, portraits, etc.), and reflects many of the aforementioned qualities affixed to writing.

It is possible to speculate that Ashbery believed that art and writing were not so different, perhaps even that they were equivalents. By describing “words” with features that are also characteristic of art, Ashbery reflects on the similarities between the two: especially how the blend of fact and fiction truly encompasses their overall value.

 

 

A Close Reading of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”

The protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” finds himself dying with a gangrenous infection, stranded in the African wilderness with his wife and several guides, facing imminent death. He responds to his wife’s genuine concern with sarcasm and nihilistic acceptance of death. It is easy to quickly dismiss Harry’s behavior as crass and tactless, especially from the dialogue. He even initially chooses to trivialize the direness of his situation, and makes unreasonable comments such as, “What about a drink?” and, “What the hell should I fool with broth for? Molo bring whiskey-soda,” to the great dismay of his wife. And yet, Harry appears to intermittently make kind remarks to his wife, such as , “You shoot marvelously, you know.”  Despite Harry’s appearance as a nihilistic and inconsiderate individual in Ernest Hemingway’s, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, the author’s usage of dialogue and flashbacks suggest the possibility of Harry  as a character with good intent.

To begin, a closer inspection of Harry’s behavior towards his wife will reveal a deep lack of ill will, and an attempt to reduce her suffering following his death. It is very much possible that Harry has internally accepted his fate from the beginning of the story. Perhaps he continually makes crude remarks that distress Helen to push her away from him as he approaches his demise, in an attempt to minimize the sense of loss that she will experience. When Helen hopefully suggests the possibility of trucks from the village arriving to rescue the members of the expedition, Harry promptly retorts with, “I don’t give a damn about the truck”. He follows this callous remark with, “You give a damn about so many things that I don’t.” On the surface-level, Harry’s comments are both insulting and upsetting to Helen. However, these utterances are prime examples of Harry attempting to soften the blow of his impending death. His nihilistic comments are a method of forcing Helen to accept his death, as acceptance is a significant part of the coping process (though in a latter stage). Harry’s attempts to convince Helen to acknowledge the difficult truth that he will die may be harsh and insensitive, but it is actually an indicator of Harry’s good will, and his desire for her to move on with life after his death. Other examples of this desire are reflected in his other comments such as, “Can’t you let a man die comfortably without calling him names?” and, “Don’t be silly. I’m dying now. Ask those bastards.” When he insults his wife for caring about too many things, Harry is chipping away at the relationship that has grown between them to reduce the impact of his death on her. When an elaborate, beautiful structure such as their relationship shatters suddenly with his death, the fallout will be massive, and Helen would be crushed. Other examples of this behavior include, “You rich bitch,” and, “Your damned money was my armour. My sword and armour.” Harry beginning to carve away at their relationship will render this structure scarred and crumbling, but the aftermath would be significantly less catastrophic. A deeper observation of Harry’s dialogue with Helen reveals a desire to reduce her suffering following his death, rather than callous remarks to increase her suffering.

Dispersed amongst Harry’s seemingly cruel comments is more overt evidence of his good will and care for Helen’s well-being. Despite being in severe pain, Harry is mindful enough to tell her that she, “better put her mosquito boots on,” out of concern for her health. Though it is easy to overlook, the pure selflessness and cognizance Harry demonstrates for Helen’s well-being is astonishing, given his own health circumstances. He also demonstrates genuine concern and care for Helen with his statement, “I love you, really. You know I love you.” The sporadic placement of his overtly caring comments amongst his more frequent negative comments creates an image of Harry attempting to push his wife away to reduce her future suffering, and attempt to instill in her an acceptance of death. However, one can speculate that Harry feels guilt for his cruelty, and it is in these instances that Harry makes an overtly empathetic, caring comment. Hemingway follows the aforementioned line with some insight into Harry’s cognition, which claims that his previous statement was a lie. However, this can also be perceived as Harry’s attempt to convince himself that he does not love Helen. To summarize this notion, Harry is in an emotional situation that is extremely difficult to navigate. He must overtly ridicule and distress his wife to reduce her future suffering, while he also attempts to convince himself that he does not love her, to reduce his own emotional suffering as he dies. The crassness of Harry’s comments belies his truly sensitive and well-meaning nature.

Not only does Harry’s present behavior truly demonstrate his core nature, but Harry’s behavior in the past as depicted through a flashback also further elucidates his capacity for good. When the bombing officer Williamson is gravely wounded, Harry, “gave him all his morphine tablets that he had always saved to use himself…” Harry makes an ultimate sacrifice: he parts with the one saving grace that would have massively dwindled the suffering of death by injury to help comfort his fellow soldier. Not only has Hemingway established Harry’s positive qualities in the present, but the flashbacks prove that Harry is, and has been a good man. It is obvious that Harry is perfectly capable of good, and his selfless behavior in the past serves as significant evidence of this trait.

Hemingway’s protagonist sacrifices for the sake of others in the past and present through the timeline of this short story, presented by the usage of dialogue and flashbacks. Sacrifice for the good of others is one of the supreme indicators of good will and selflessness, two traits that are not immediately perceptible in Harry. However, to completely overlook the sacrifices he has made could be a gross mischaracterization of the individual.  

 

Introduction to Allen Ginsberg

AllenGinsberg

Allen Ginsberg was an influential Jewish American poet with great prominence within the Beat Generation, a group of poets of the post-World War II era disillusioned with the militarism, economic materialism, and social conservatism that appeared following the war. His personal opinions against such concepts are strikingly evident in his works, particularly in Howl his most renowned work that contains frequent references to taboo topics.

Born in Newark, New Jersey on June 3, 1926 into a Jewish family, Ginsberg’s relationship with his parents is a recurrent theme in his writings, particularly with his mother. Naomi Livergant Ginsberg suffered from an undiagnosed psychological illness, and was plagued with paranoid delusions. Ginsberg’s constant exposure to his mother’s mental suffering developed within him a great tolerance, sympathy and understanding of mental illness and its sufferers. He would find himself briefly admitted to a psychiatric hospital too in the future, and would write by drawing on experiences with his mother and his own hospitalization.

Ginsberg attended Columbia University, and it was there that he met some of the fellow writers that would form the Beat Generation. They idolized the notion of American youth free from the restraints of society and conformity, and strongly advocated drug usage, open sexuality, and anti-establishment mentalities. His eventual move to San Francisco further enriched his connection with like-minded writers, where he would collaborate with his mentor, William Carlos Williams, and meet his life-long partner, Peter Orlovsky. Ginsberg would at times receive inspiration from visions, and maintained spirituality as a significant aspect of his life that would reflect in his writing. His style of free verse can be seen as a manifestation of his intense support for free speech, social liberalism and exploration. He also drew inspiration from Walt Whitman, in his free verse style. Ginsberg’s controversial poems with overt depictions of homosexuality and drug use served as groundbreaking works of free expression and visions of a different future.

 

A Comparison of O’Connor and Hemingway

From the Snows of Kilimanjaro ”

THE MARVELLOUS THING IS THAT IT’S painless,” he said. “That’s how you know when it starts.””Is it really?””Absolutely. I’m awfully sorry about the odor though. That must bother you.””Don’t! Please don’t.””Look at them,” he said. “Now is it sight or is it scent that brings them like that?”

From Good Country People

Besides the neutral expression that she wore when she was alone, Mrs. Freeman had two others, forward and reverse, that she used for all her human dealings. Her forward expression was
steady and driving like the advance of a heavy truck. Her eyes never swerved to left or right but turned as the story turned as if they followed a yellow line down the center of it. She seldom used the other expression because it was not often necessary for her to retract a statement, but when she did, her face came to a complete stop, there was an almost imperceptible movement of her black eyes, during which they seemed to be receding, and then the observer would see that Mrs. Freeman, though she might stand there as real as several grain sacks thrown on top of each other, was no longer there in spirit”

 

I found the style of introducing the characters in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Hemingway and “Good Country People” by O’Connor to be radically different. O’Connor begins by very specifically describing the characters and their mannerisms, such as Mrs. Freeman’s “forward expression”. In addition, O’Connor immediately provides the reader with insight on her relationship with the other characters, e.g. how she “thought of her as a child though she was thirty-two years old and highly educated”. In this manner, the setting and characters have been fairly well explored as the plot begins to progress. This is in stark contrast to Hemingway’s method of introduction: with sarcastic dialogue containing few context clues. The relationship between the two main characters is unclear, with much of the introductory dialogue consisting of seemingly light-hearted banter such as , “”Now is it sight or is it scent that brings them like that?”. It is revealed through more dialogue that the situation is much more dire than originally perceived as, and some information about the characters can be inferred. The nature of the characters are slowly revealed through this dialogue rather than explicitly provided by an omniscient narrator.

Though this contrast between the two authors could be a stylistic choice, it is important to note the circumstances that each story takes place in. “Good Country People” has a very every-day tone to it, with little urgency or direness. The characters experience various events (love, deception, frustration, etc.) that are quite commonplace. However, Hemingway’s protagonists are stranded on an African safari trip, with one of them facing imminent death by gangrene. Perhaps the direness of the situation is expressed by the lack of an omniscient narrator, in a cold, harsh world where man ultimately must face his demise alone. The more dire situation warrants a stripped down introduction with little context to emulate the urgency of the situation, while the more common circumstances can afford the explicit insight on the characters.

“At last, even Uncle Buck gave up and they started back toward the house…dark cabins toward the one where the fyce had treed”

Though this passage is lengthy, it effectively capture Faulkner’s usage of sentence structure to manipulate the pace of the story. The sentences preceding the passage are similar to the first sentence: they are of relatively normal structure, and in terms of the story, Uncle Buck has just about given up on searching for the escaped slave. The wild chase has slowed as the sentence structure also reflects. However, when the fyce spots the slave, the structure shifts to a lengthy, stream of consciousness-style format. When I read the portions stylized in this manner, the pace of the story felt accelerated, as the characters again pick up speed in their chase.

In addition to the syntax helping to pace the story, this particular passage captures the inhumanity and its normalcy of the southern attitude towards slaves in this era. In the beginning of the story, I found the identity of Turl to be extremely ambiguous from the conversations of the characters (whether he was human or an animal). Also, though it was common practice, it is unsettling to consider the usage of dogs to hunt down and chase escaped slaves as if though they were animals-the word “treed” is often reserved for trapped game.