The Legacy of Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 21st century. Best known for his novels and short stories, he was a very gifted author and war correspondent. He was awarded many prizes in his lifetime including, the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953.
His writing ability and uniqueness cannot be compared to any modern author we have today. Ernest Hemingway, an American journalist, short story writer, and journalist influenced the American literary scene by writers who consciously imitate his autobiographical style of writing and the impact his emotional life has on readers. Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park Illinois on July 21, 1899. He was the second child born to his mother Grace Hall Hemingway and his father Lawrence Edmonds Hemingway. Ernest grew up with four sisters until he was 15 years old when he got a much-desired brother. His mother, a religious woman, was active in church affairs and led her son to play the cello and sing in the school choir. Ernest came to admire his father, a physician, who taught him how to hunt and fish. In the summers, Ernest and his family enjoyed time in northern Michigan where he often attended his father on professional calls.
In high school, Ernest earned a popular reputation as a scholar and an athlete on the swim and football team. The beginning of his writing career began in the halls of his own school where he wrote the school newspaper called the Trapeze. Influenced by a popular author at the time named Ring Lardner, Ernest usually wrote humorous pieces. He graduated from Oak Park High School in 1917. Despite his success in high school, Ernest ran away from his home twice. Right out of high school, his first real chance to run away came in 1917 when the United States entered World War I. He was first denied entry into the military due to poor eyesight, which he inherited from his mother. Instead, he decided to get a job at a newspaper company called the Kansas City Star. Ernest wrote many short stories, short paragraphs, sentences, and comparisons. He was obligated to follow the companies guidelines, which helped him to develop his own personal, simple style of writing that would continue to influence millions in the future. He then volunteered for the American Red Cross as an ambulance driver in 1918.
While in combat, Ernest was badly injured by an exploding mortar shell. His legs were nearly blown off by the fragments and it required many surgeries to save them. Ernest received a medal from the Italian government because he was the first American soldier to be wounded in Italy since the start of World War I. During his recovery, Ernest met his first girlfriend named Agnes von Kurowsky. They vowed to spend the rest of their life together and even planned to get married once Ernest healed and moved back to the states. When the war ended in 1918, Ernest was eager to start his new life with Agnes in the United States. He moved back to his hometown only to find a letter from his girlfriend. She broke off the relationship and Ernest could not be any more devastated. He fell into a deep pit of depression. Moving back to the states was not as he was expecting because the excitement of Oak Park is nothing compared to the adventures he faced at war. Ernest lived about a year in his parents home recovering from the pain he experienced during the war. Hemingway soon found himself as a feature editor at the Toronto Star. Living in Chicago for work, he met the love of his life named Hadley Richardson. The two fell in love at first sight and exchanged wedding vows on September 1921. Shortly after that, Ernest received a promotion to work for Toronto Star in Europe. The couple moved to Paris, France where Ernest would experience the happiest years of his life.
One of Ernest Hemingway’s most renowned pieces of literature is A Farewell to Arms. This book is very much an autobiography of Ernest Hemingway himself. First published in 1929, A Farewell to Arms is set by an ambulance driver named Lieutenant Frederic Henry during the Italian campaign of World War I. It describes a love affair between Frederic and a nurse named Catherine Barkley. Frederic attempts to seduce Catherine, but is not looking for a serious relationship. His feelings grow for her when he is hit by a mortar shell and sent to a hospital in Milan where Catherine is working. Fredric spends the summer in the hospital, getting closer and closer to Catherine. After many months, Fredric’s knee heals and he is sent back to the front. A day after his leave, Catherine announces that she is three months pregnant. Fredric returns to his unit where he learns that Italian forces are under the threat of being defeated.
After the German troops began to break through the barricades, the Italians are ready to retreat. Fredric and a couple of other soldiers drive the ambulance and pick up a few lost sergeants and panicked girls. When they catch up to the other retreating soldiers, everything has fallen into anarchy. The police are taking people into custody for questioning but Fredric learns that, instead, they are being executed. The battle police take him in but, knowing this information, he escapes and jumps into the river. Fredric gets to a safe spot and then boards a train to go back to Milian. He reunites with Catherine for a while until he learns that he is about to be arrested.
The couple flees to Switzerland in a rowboat and comes to an agreement with the Swiss that allows them to freely stay in the country. The two lovers finally start their own, beautiful life for a couple of months. During the spring, Catherine goes into labor and the birth is much more difficult and painful than what was expected. She gives birth to a healthy, baby boy but dies of a hemorrhage later that night. Fredric struggles to say goodbye to Catherine and he and the baby walk back to the hotel in the rain. One of the biggest themes in this story is the depressing reality of how life at war actually is. Most people do not really think about how chaotic war can be. They don’t really expect the same team to kill other members on their side. The scene after the retreat proves this perfectly. The soldiers were outraged that they had to retreat from the battle so they began to execute the people who they thought was behind it, hence their own fellow soldiers. Another notable aspect from the story is that fact that it is in first person. The narrator is an omniscient narrator who tells the story in past tense. It can be thought of as a memorial to Catherine, the baby, for all the fallen soldiers, or a combination of the three. Ernest Hemingway cannot deny the fact that he was in war himself and much of the words in the book are about his own life-changing experiences.
Another distinguished story written by Hemingway is The Old Man and the Sea. Written in 1951 and published in 1952, it tells the story of Santiago, a Cuban fisherman who struggles to catch a fish after many years of bad luck. A young neophyte by the name of Manolin has been accomponing Santiago on his luckless fishing trips. He has been forbidden by his parents to fish with Santiago, but instead to fish with a more accomplished fisherman. Despite the fact, Manolin still visits Santiago and helps with the fishing gear. Santiago soon decides to go out into the middle of the Gulf Stream, confident that he will finally catch a fish after eighty-four days. The next day, he takes his boat far into the middle of the Gulf and sets out his line. Around noon, Santiago catches a huge fish that is surely a Marlin. Unable to reel it in with the size of the fish, he holds on the fishing pole for two days and two nights. The third day, the fish eases on the line and Santiago uses his last remaining strength to pull it toward the top of the water and kill it with a harpoon. He drags it into the boat and sets sail for home.
During the sail back, Santiago is visited by multiple sharks who are attracted by the Marlin’s blood. He kills off many of the sharks but they eventually overtake him and eat away all the flesh from the fish. Santiago finally arrives home and falls into a deep sleep. When he awakes, he finds an abundant amount of tourists gathering around his fish skeleton. One of the tourists measured the Marlin to be about eighteen feet long. Manolin is relieved to see that Santiago has returned home after worrying for many days. He brings Santiago the local newspaper and some coffee and the two decide to fish together again, as a team. Throughout the entire story, Santiago shows a great amount of perseverance. He does not give up after not catching single fish for eighty-four days. He never lets the fishing pole go when he couldn’t reel in the Marlin. And he tries everything he could to not let the sharks have his fish. Perseverance is a major character trait that our society lacks. If something is hard, most people will give up. They don’t want to try to do something if it is too hard for them.
Another major symbolism in this story is Santiago’s relationship with the natural world. He talks about the birds in the sky as if they were his friends, the sharks as personal enemies, and the sea as a woman. He justifies peoples actions by saying that it is what they are born to do. This symbolism shows a great amount of characterization about Ernest Hemingway himself. Hemingway expressed a great deal on how he felt about the world. He writes constantly about his opinions on the world and how people behave in the world. Hemingway, like many other authors, uses his writing as a platform to uphold the beliefs that he views as correct, reasonable, and fair. Ernest Hemingway, as successful as he was, fought a battle with mental health issues and depression that were never addressed by the people in his life.
When he was found dead in his Idaho home in 1961, his wife was very reluctant to accept that the actual cause of his death was by suicide. She insisted to all his family and reporters that his death was by accident. She claimed that he was cleaning one of his guns when his hand slipped on the trigger and accidentally shot him in the head. It took a couple months for Mrs. Hemingway to finally admit that her husband intentionally killed himself. His father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, was usually very strict and reportedly beat this children on multiple occasions. He was not very loving and caring as a father should be. While living in Florida, Ernest received the news about his father’s suicide. He admittedly blamed his mother as the cause of his father’s suicide which built up a bitter anger toward her.
After his father killed himself in 1928, Ernest wrote in a letter to his mother in law, I’ll probably go the same way. Pain suffered from childhood will haunt you through your entire life. Hemingway reportedly began to drink more and become more violent after the death of his father. Many suspect that the Hemingway family suffered from mental health issues. There have been at least five recorded suicides stretching over about four generations. Ernest’s father, siblings Ernest, Ursula, Leices, and his granddaughter Margaux. Ernest’s youngest son, Gregory, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, making him the third generation of male Hemingways to undergo the illness.
Ernest suffered from alcoholism and mood swings throughout his entire life. He attempted to ease his pain by writing, drinking alcohol, huning, and fishing, but eventually the overwhelming pain in his life caught up to him. His writing styles were usually very disheartening as a way to let out his painful moods and suicidal impulses. This style of writing moved the hearts of all Americans and inspired us to live a better life. Ernest Hemingway was found dead on July 2, 1961. He was 61 years old. There is no doubt that Ernest Hemingway shaped the way we see modern, American literature. He introduced us to new and innovative styles of writing. He was one of the most personal writers in history due to his autobiographical style of writing. Hemingway’s life has impacted millions around the world. Every person can find some way to relate to the life of Ernest Hemingway, from his love of the outdoors, his wife and family, his personal struggles, or even his writings.
Each event that happened in his life shaped him into the outstanding writer that we now know of today. Ever since his death in 1961, many authors have wrote about Hemingway’s entire life from birth to death. There is such of an abundance of information that comes from Hemingway’s life that nobody has truly gotten every detail perfect. No other author can ever compare to the uniqueness of writing that was Ernest Hemingway. Writers have tried to imitate his autobiographical style of writing, but have never succeeded in influencing the American literary scene as much as Hemingway has done. The legacies that Ernest Hemingway has left behind will never be forgotten.
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