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INTRODUCTION

In this paper my aim is to take a critical view out Hemingways female


characters and to try to decide whether Hemingway was a misogynist or not. It is a hard
decision to take and of course it will be subjective.
I have settled on this subject because I wanted to satisfy an old curiosity of mine. I
have heard the rumors that were floating around Earnest Hemingway and his works. This,
and he fact that that I have been interested in the ideas of the feminist movement, without
being actually dragged into it. These rumors were on his supposedly misogyny.
In the literary world, the opinions were divided. All this puzzled me and in the
following chapters I will try to reveal the truth, as much as I will be able to. Whether
those rumors are to be revealed as true, is to be seen.
The environment and the society influences us positively and sometimes even
negatively. We can assume that the determining cultural factors surrounding the
publication of Hemingways novels, namely the Era before and after World War I set its
print on his work. Studying this historical moment we could demonstrate that many of
Hemingways so-called androgynous predilections as well as his preoccupation with
masculinity to the point of homophobia and misogyny, are as much a result of societal
forces surrounding his middle-class education, as they are the result of any personal
influences upon the author. Many of the issues present in Hemingways work evolve
from the tension between a middle-class American culture struggling with its masculine
identity and a more sexually permissive European culture brought to the United States
by American soldiers after World War I. Analyzing some Hemingway texts in light of
this conflict between cultures should demonstrate the determining impact of these
cultures upon the author and his work.
More often than not, the emergent American middle class forged an identity with
a Victorian ideology. Having such ideas, middle-class Americans created medical and
legal definitions of the normal and civilized societal roles, classifying anyone who
did not fit neatly into the rigidly constructed categories of male or female as
abnormal.

According to Byrne Fone:


To define what was normal the primary task of the medical study of sexuality
was to construct a paradigm of the abnormal and place abnormality within a scientific
rather than a legal/theological discourse. By the 1880s in both England and America,
the Victorian medical theorists and social commentators had participated with social
and sexual activities of men and women, assigning to each very different roles.1
The true woman was to be submissive socially and sexually, the manager of
domestic life, pious as well as morally pure. Men were socially and sexually
assertive, benign rulers of the patriarchal family, and active providers of material goods.
Victorian theorists argued that these roles were dictated by nature and biology
and that their qualities were naturally associated with the biological female or male.
Thus the biologically sexed woman was presumed to be naturally feminine, the
biologically sexed male naturally masculine, and gender was defined as having fixed
and immutable natural characteristics.2
So according to the Era he lived in, Hemingway had fixed ideas about how a
woman should be; his ideas and the fact that he saw the relations between a man and a
woman the way he did is due to a number of factors. As we will see in the following
chapters, Hemingway was primarily influenced by his mother, Grace Hall Hemingway,
who had treated him like he was a girl and marked his relation with the opposite gender.
Other women who had a big influence on him were his wives, Hadley Richardson,
Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn, Mary Welsh; it is said that he was not able to keep
his relations and that is why he re-re-re-married.
His most accomplished female characters are Catherine Barkley, the heroine of
A Farewell to Arms and Brett Ashley, the heroine of The Sun Also Rises. These women
are two totally different persons in mind and in character.
Catherine is a pure and unselfish woman who takes care of her man the best way
she can. She adores Frederic Henry and she gives birth to his baby. Brett Ashley is a
strong woman who knows what she wants and goes all the way to obtain it. She does
not settle for one man because the man she loved and adored died and left her alone.
This paper has 5 chapters in which I will try to expose gradually Hemingway
and his female characters, the relations between them, and their status as characters of a
literary work. I have chosen this structure because, in my opinion, Hemingway had two
types of characters. One type who is well presented, in detail, accomplished characters
and the other type is presented only as a shape, the description is vague, these are the
less-accomplished characters.

1. A THEORETICAL VIEW ON LITERARY


CHARACTERS

The history of he novel is nothing else but the history of its characters. The
novel takes his materials from life, from the human life. By following the characters
destiny through literature, from the exemplary hero from the Anthiquity to the absent
interpreter and the synthetic hero of our times, he is also outdated from many points of
view; a new literature is growing step by step from the point of view in which the
characters are suffering some mutations.(Hertha Perez, own translation)
We can see two tendencies in the development of the 20th century: the
narrowing of the angle from which the character is observed by sticking to his inner
optics, and the other one, opposite to the first tendency, which follows the exterior
reaction. They follow the separation of the two levels: the inner dynamics and the
reaction co-existent in the previous literature. By refusing the legacy from the past, the
passion for the social observance and the traditional psychoanalysis operated on
hard characters, with a concrete biography, with a legacy and predictable reactions.
A big number of narrators move their eyes on the inner mysteries of the human soul.
This has as a consequence a subjectivity taken to the extremes, and this anihilates the
exterior human nature.3
Hertha Perez observes that by synthesizing the evolution of the 20th century
novels, Rafael Koskimies in his Theorie des Romans tries to explain the reasons for the
authors look from the outside to the inside.
She also states that another fundamental role in the subjectivity of the literary
character was played by the increasing suspicion of the modern prose towards the
omniscient narrator, the rejection of the all-knowing spirit of the novelists. She explains
that from the moment in which the narrator gives up his organizing and omniscient power
and the compositional strategy changes, the universe of the novel begins to be perceived

as a field or as a space from a horizontal perspective. This gives an ambiguous status and
contributes to the relativity of the character and to puzzling situations.
Another important step in this respect is the Behaviourism, the psychological
school founded in 1912 by J.B. Watson 4. This direction is mostly seen in the American
Literature, which tends to be absolutely objective and tries to cut out all the subjectivity
and relies only on the physical, external reactions. They are trying to get rid of all the
manifestations of the psyche. And even if these states of mind are present, they are lost
between gestures and words.
Preoccupied to create partial characters, reduced at what casually is known from
their external reactions, some novelists refused to put human life under a microscope. In
return, they tried to observe human life in the run.
The inner reaction in other cases is implicit and, sometimes, it is more
suggestive because it is in the shadows; this is the case of Hemingway. He has a
weakness for the telegraphic style, only stating the facts, and leaving the comments
upon them to others. The critics have noticed the lack of causal clauses 5 in
Hemingway.
The intense development in the literary characters relativity in this century has
attracted some trials of classification, a relative classification because the characters
depend on the authors ideas.
A rather new point of view on this belongs to Karl Minger, in the chapter Die
Figur from the book Theorie des modernes Romans (The theory of the modern novel,
Stuttgart, 1970). The classification proposed by the German theorist has the advantage
of a synthesis which facilitates orientation in a difficult domain. There are three types of
characters:

The character submitted to a process of reduction, he\she has some ideas or

feelings reduced. Their understanding of the world is the center of the novel.
The literature gives us a number of characters who can be found in this type.
One of these characters can be the monster from Mary Shelleys Frankenstein; a big
part of the story is presented from his point of view. The old man from The Old Man
and the Sea is another good example. He lives in a world of his own and this world is
fishing.

The insane character, who acts in different ways: as anti-hero, as a donquo-

tesque figure or as a maimed in body or in soul; figure who is transformed into an


outsider, someone at the margins of society.

Here we can talk about characters like Ana from Ana Christie by Eugene
ONeill. Ana is a young girl who has suffered, she was a prostitute, she lived at the
margins of the society. Her soul was maimed by her hard life but in the end, she finds
redemption.

The synthetic character, an artificial product, made in a laboratory. A

character which is easy to understand and follow.6


Characters who are easy to follow are those created by the Romantic Era.
Undoubtedly the literary character is an important part in the creation of the
novel. The exceptional novels of all times live through their characters, and novels
aesthetically justify their value through the characters capacity to be memorable
morally and socially, to represent life in its infinit variety. The most of the valuable
novels remain in our memory with the help of their characters.
When authors create characters, they select some aspects of ordinary people,
develop some of those aspects whilst playing down others, and put them together as
they please. The result is not an ordinary person but a fictional one who only exists in
the words of the novel.7
Because characters are especially made, we can always ask this question about
them: how are these characters created? Whatever we will write about a character will
depend upon how the character has been created. If, for instance, we ask ourselves what
we feel about a character, the answer will depend upon the way in which the author has
made that character. But since to ask how a character is made is a big question, it is a
good idea to break it down into a number of others. We will first discuss about the types
of characters, and then we will also discuss a number of questions we can ask about them.
What is meant by types of characters? The word type refers at the number
of features of the character (if a character is well developed or not). If we think about
the access an author can allow the reader to have into a characters mind, we will see
that we will understand more about a character into whose mind we are admitted than
one whom we only know from the outside. The character into whose mind we can see is
likely to be deeper, richer and more varied than one whose mind is closed to us. There
are some characters whom readers feel they know very well. They seem alive,
independent and, in many cases, very original. When they act, speak or think, they do so
in a different way and the normal question we can ask is: why do they think, do or say
that? These characters have multiple sides and they have a rich inner life, they are able
to grow and change; readers can see them in all kinds of experiences, and in some

novels death itself. We, the readers, feel that we know them because the authors have
chosen to give them range, depth and richness.
In some novels the author lets us know the character from the outside as well as
from inside but it is not necessary that they be rich or original. These are characters who
have a much more limited life. Their authors have given them a few characteristics, but
they rarely surprise the reader. They are lightly sketched with a few broad lines, but there
is little light or shadow to them. This is not to say that they have very little purpose in the
novels in which they appear. Quite often their presence is very important, but often the
reader gains the impression that the author has put them there not because he or she is
interested in them but because they serve a role in the total design of the novel.
There are some characters that have only one feature. They never develop,
rarely have inner life, never surprise the reader (if they do, it is only once), and they
often repeat phrases. The reader is never puzzled by them, because there is nothing
about them to cause puzzlement. They can, however, be delightfully funny, and many of
them, in consequence, are memorable.
There are a few terms that should give us some help in writing about the range
of characters we will find in novels.
The novelist E.M. Forster published a book, called Aspects of the Novel, in
which he distinguished between:

Round;

Flat characters. 8

Round characters are full, complex and rich, such as Catherine Barkley in A
Farewell to Arms, whereas flat characters are simple ones, such as the girl in Hills Like
White Elephants (later we will see that she is a flat character at a superficial look).
Another way of distinguishing between characters of a wide and those of a narrow
range is to call one open and the other closed. These terms are more concerned with the
capacity of characters to change; an open character can grow and develop, whereas a
closed one is fixed and unchanging. Round and flat, and open and closed are used only
as technical terms.
Some good examples of round characters are Stephen Daedalus from James
Joyces Ulysses, who is a character with all the necessary ingredients. He has shape,
color and real features. Flat characters are like Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby
by Scott Fitzgerald, he remains the same all through the story, he does not evolve.

Melvin C. Miles divides Hemingways characters into:

Anti-Heroes: characters who are blind to the reality of nada, who live

according to illusions, false values, and/or random impulses; such characters are generally either stupid and messy, idealistic and deluded, or self-centered and destructive.
The best example we can find here is Brett Ashley, the heroine from The Sun
Also Rises. She is a self-centered woman who lives by her own rules and regulations;
she repeatedly harms herself and the people around her. She has made a mess of her life.

Apprentice Heroes: characters who have recognized the reality of nada and

who (depending on the stage of their growth) are either struggling with the fear, anxiety,
and loss of control which the recognition of nada brings, or who are in the process of
learning the nature of true values and the requirements of the code.
Nick Addams, a character in Hemingways short stories, is an apprentice-hero.
His father is a doctor and he initiates his son into the secrets of medicine. He
accompanies his father and observes him at work.

Exemplary or Code Heroes: characters who have recognized and accepted

the reality of nada, who have learned the nature of true values, and who live in
compliance with the requirements of the code. Such characters are the models whom the
apprentice heroes learn from.9
In this type of character we can set the heroine from A Farewell to Arms, she is a
real person in a real world. She is at peace with the world and with its rules. Catherine
Barkley is a code hero.
As we have seen characters can be divided in many types, and each classifycation is more or less the right one. After reading several opinions on the subject we
settled for a different classification. Hemingways characters are divided in two types:
accomplished characters and less-accomplished ones. This two terms are to be
explained in the following chapters.

2. CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES
OF HEMINGWAYS CHARACTERS

Hemingways characters are soldiers, sportsmen, prizefighters, and matadors; his


world of fiction is full of perverts, drunkards, and prostitutes. He is preoccupied with
death and violence; alcohol is consumed in his stories in significant quantities; and the
conventional sexual ethic is often absent altogether. Obviously he creates by dramatizing his own experiences, but he is much better when he fictionalizes them than he is
when he tries to present them in autobiographical or semi-autobiographical works, like
the twisted and strange Death in the Afternoon and The Green Hills of Africa.,.
His first, most precious, and most obviously apparent gift for writing is his
marvelous capacity for sensitiveness to impressions. For Hemingway, it would seem,
the world is created anew every morning, and so vivid and refreshing in his rendering of
it that nature itself often seems in his pages to take on a moral significance. It is
interesting for more than one reason to note as to this connection that Hemingway does
not smoke because the use of tobacco would interfere with his sense of smell.
Perhaps the prime example of Hemingways ability to render senseimpressions vividly is the description of the washing and preparing of the trout in The
Sun Also Rises, but others can be found in almost every book. Take, for instance, the
feel of Marias poor cropped head in For Whom The Bells Tools, like the fur on a
marten. Nor has this capacity deserted Hemingway with growing maturity, as witness
the picture of the breaking of the ice on the lagoon of Across the River, when the
Colonel goes duck-shooting.10
His first major novel is The Sun Also Rises. In this book the Hemingway type of
character is Jacob Jake Barnes a journalist assigned to Paris after World War I is over.
The love interest is Lady Brett Ashley who is very beautiful. Jake cannot fulfill her
needs sexually due to a war wound he suffered, he was impotent.

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This novel is loaded with anti-Semitism as the most negative character in the
book is Robert Cohn and also has racist remarks as well. Nevertheless,

Hemingway

may well defend himself against such statements by saying that he is describing fictional characters and besides that is the way most people thought and talked in those days.
Here again we see that Jake met Brett when he was in the hospital recovering
from his wounds. So, it is very clear that his rejection by the nurse in real life becomes a
recurring theme.
Brett at the beginning of the novel is going through a divorce and getting ready
to marry Mike Campbell, a nice guy she likes but does not really love. She also goes out
with Cohn and everyone in the novel is enchanted by her and falls in love with her.
Jake goes out fishing in Spain with his friend Bill Gorton, a very successful
American writer, and then all the group meets up in Pamplona for the bullfights and the
festival of San Fermin. Jake, like the real life Hemingway, is a bullfight aficionado. He
not only enjoys watching, but he understands and loves the gory of the bullfight. Brett
falls in love with a young handsome bullfighter and leaves with him when the festival is
over. Jake goes to San Sebastian on the coast for a rest by himself. There he gets an
urgent telegram from Brett in Madrid. He rushes to her as she had broken off with the
bullfighter as she realizes that it would be best for his career. The novel ends with the
two of them riding around Madrid in each others arms. But, a sophisticated reader
understands that the two of them have only a tragic relationship that cannot be fulfilled.
Brett says to Jake in her final lines of the book: Oh, Jake, we could have had such a
damned good time together.11 The last line of the book is his response: Yes. Isnt it
pretty to think so?.12
Much of the novel is about drinking and eating, and then eating and drinking.
Then more drinking and eating. Then they eat some more and drink a lot more. The
sensation attachment in his writing is very, very strong. Also, the power bit is equally
strong as revealed in the bullfight fixation. In the book he has Jake say: Nobody ever
lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.13
Hemingway, through the voice of Jake, also belittles people who read books
and then change their behavior. This is somewhat ironic given that his books tend to do
that to people. Maybe he is subconsciously warning against reading his books and then
becoming an action junkie? It is interesting how in his life he became a character from
one of his books so that he doesn't even take his own advice! But he is not against

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literature; he is against inaction of any sort. It is through what we DO, not what we
write or say, that we are important and live a life worthy of the effort.14
While eating lunch on one of their fishing trips, Jake says: Wonder what day
God created the chicken?15 His friend Bill says:
Oh, how should we know? We should not question. Our stay on earth is not for
long. Let us rejoice and believe and give thanks.16
Although Hemingway has Bill deliver the lines, he is really speaking for
Jake/Hemingway.
Some action oriented people turn into wonderful firefighters or other types of
individuals where the need for action is met through socially acceptable avenues.17
Hemingway did not lack for supporters in Paris then, but he wanted to reach a
wider audience than that of the little magazines and limited editions and, if possible,
make a living into the bargain. Fitzgerald, a successful popular writer, was ideally
situated to serve as a mentor in this regard. He encouraged Hemingway to leave the firm
of Boni & Liveright, which published In Our Time, in order to join him at Scribners
under the editorship of Maxwell Perkins. Fitzgerald wrote a laudatory review of In Our
Time when it came out in the fall of 1925 and acted as Hemingways agent in sending
out stories to magazines. He loaned his friend money and offered sympathy and support
as Hemingways marriage to Hadley collapsed. Perhaps most important of all,
Fitzgerald advised Hemingway to scrap the beginning of The Sun Also Rises.
The manuscript as Fitzgerald read it in the summer of 1926 started with a selfconscious and chatty introduction containing inside information on the Left Bank and
its habitues. The opening paragraph read:
This is a novel about a lady. Her name is Lady Ashley and when the
story begins she is living in Paris and it is Spring. That should be a good
setting for a romantic but highly moral story. As every one knows, Paris
is a very romantic place. Spring in Paris is a very happy and romantic
time. Autumn in Paris, although very beautiful, might give a note of
sadness or melancholy that we shall try to keep out of this story.18
Fitzgerald, who had more or less delivered Hemingway to Scribners on the basis
of the promise of his first novel, was appalled. His written critique called attention to
about 24 sneers, superiorities, and nose-thumbing-at-nothing 19 in the opening chapters, accused Hemingway of elephantine facetiousness,20 and recommended that he
cut twenty-five hundred words. This was harsh criticism, but Hemingway was too

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dedicated a craftsman not to learn from it. He not only took Fitzgerald's advice but also
went one step further. Instead of reducing the original section in length, he severed the
first four thousand words entirely and began with Robert Cohn was once middleweight
boxing champion of Princeton.21
In so doing, Hemingway was operating on the iceberg principle 22, since if The
Sun Also Rises is not strictly speaking a novel about Lady Ashley, nonetheless Brett
Ashley is the central figure in the book, the one around whom all the principal male
characters revolve. Brett is sexually promiscuous, but she has reasons. Like Catherine
Barkley in A Farewell to Arms and Maria in For Whom The Bell Tolls, Brett is a victim
of the war. Her true love died of dysentery at the front. The man she married on the
rebound, and acquired her title from, came back from the war so disturbed that he slept
with a loaded revolver and threatened to kill her. During wartime service as a volunteer
she met and fell in love with Jake Barnes, but his war injury left him incapable of sexual
intercourse. When the novel begins, she is engaged to Mike Campbell, a charming man
with a history of not paying his debts. She spends a weekend in San Sebastian with
Robert Cohn, thinking it will be good for him, but it has the opposite effect. Jake,
Mike, and Robert are all on the scene at the fiesta in Pamplona, interacting in various
stages of jealousy and anger when Brett further complicates the situation by becoming
enraptured by the nineteen-year-old bullfighter Pedro Romero. She calls on Jake, who
can refuse her nothing, to introduce her to Romero, At the end of the novel she
summons Jake to Madrid: AM RATHER IN TROUBLE, 23 her telegram reads, but
what Brett really wants is someone to talk to about her affair with Romero. He had
wanted to marry her, she tells Jake, but she could not do that; at thirty-four, she will not
be one of these bitches that ruins children. 24 Jake says nothing to encourage these
revelations.
Excessive drinking is commonplace among the expatriates depicted in The Sun
Also Rises. The world of this novel, generally immersed in alcohol as well as promiscuity,
prostitution, and homosexuality, strikes many readers as one of self-indulgent immorality.
Yet Hemingway insisted that it was a very moral book. That Brett has certain standards,
for example, is reflected in her decision to send Romero away. She will not take money
from him, just as she will not accept Count Mippipopolous offer of ten thousand dollars
to accompany him to Biarritz. This financial scrupulousness, along with her observation
that she is paying for the hell she has put chaps through, fits into a morality of
compensation that runs through the novel and is explicitly articulated by Jake Barnes.

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Lying awake in Pamplona, he thinks that in having Brett for a friend, he had been getting
something for nothing25 and that sooner or later the bill will arrive.
In 22nd of October 1926, while Hemingway was divorcing Hadley, The Sun Also
Rises appears on the market, and in two months, over 7000 copies were sold. Two years
later, in a letter to Maxwell Perkins, Hemingway told him that he had written the novel
in six weeks, then he left it aside for three months and then, he had re-written it in
another three months.
The reviews attacked the characters calling them morally horrid and labeled
Hemingway as a component of the Lost Generation, called this way by Gertrude Stein 26.
The clients of the Coffee-Shops in Paris recognized themselves in almost all the
characters. Kitty Cannel was angry because of the harsh portrait of Harold Loeb; the
Lady pretended not to be affected by the character she inspired but in fact she was the
most affected. Later she confessed to the American painter Clinton King, who became
her husband, that it is possible her character had influenced the judges who granted the
custody of her boy, to her former husband.
In a letter to Fitzgerald , Hemingway reminded of a rumor from Paris which
was about the fact that Harold Loeb told everybody that he would shoot Hemingway
and that the author went to Switzerland to hide from the people who served as models
for his characters.27
Bertram D. Sarason collected fifteen confessions from the people who were
transformed into characters of the story, as well as interviews and articles on those
characters, which demonstrated some things. In a long introduction, Sarason examined
all the episodes of the novel confronting them with all the real facts which inspired the
book. This confrontation brings light upon the scandal between Harold Loeb and the
bullfighter, which in fact did not happen, upon Kitty Cannels portrait or about the
prostitutes name, Georgette Leblanc, which in fact, is the name of a very respectable
lady.
In another chapter of Sarasons book a hypothesis appears that Lady Brett
Ashley always recognized in Lady Duff Twysden, was in fact inspired by a very rich
lady Mrs. Nancy Cunard, the editor of Samuel Becketts first works.
There is no doubt in finding the model of Robert Cohn with Harold Loeb, whom
Hemingway caricaturized by putting into him all the resentments he had towards the
model of the character. In fact, Harold Loeb spent a night with Lady Duff. Loeb was the
most upset of Hemingways friends used as models; and the story with the revolver

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spread and a sarcastic definition appeared: six characters with the revolver in their
hand, in search of the author28.
The truth is that, the big number of discussions and the endless gossip inspired
the contemporaries to write a series of books, Harold Loeb wrote: The Way It Was,
James Charters (the bartender at the bar from Montparnasse where Lady Duff, Pat
Guthrie and Hemingway were going every night ), This Must Be the Place, Robert
McAlmon Being Geniuses Together, John Dos Passos Chosen Country, and many more.
From the research Sarason made it is clear that the real biography of Lady Duff is one
and Lady Brett Ashley is only a character inspired by her. Hemingway was right when
he said, I wrote a novel not a biography. Despite this situation, Jake Barnes was
recognized as being Hemingway, and this started the rumor that he was impotent. But he
explained that he had only a genital infection and during his treatment he met a young
boy who lost his genital organs and he was the model for Jake Barnes.
The friends who werent used in the story considered the book what it was, a key
masterpiece of the American Literature which had a big influence on the technique of
the novel worldwide.
Edmund Wilson said that it was the best novel of Hemingways generation.
Finally, Hollywood bought the book for a production of Darryl F. Zanuck with Tyrone
Power and Juliette Greco in the leading roles.29
The title of this 1929 book, A Farewell to Arms, which with The Sun
Also Rises constitutes Hemingway's finest work as a novelist, has a double meaning. It
tells the story of both the war, with which Frederic makes his separate peace, and of a
love affair between Frederic and Catherine Barkley, which ends tragically with
Catherines death. There are certain unmistakable parallels between Frederic Henrys
experience and that of his creator. Frederic Henry, like Ernest Hemingway, is severely
wounded during World War I, and he falls in love with a woman who helps nurse him
back to health. As a consequence many readers have assumed that Frederics experience
more or less mirrors Hemingways. Yet A Farewell to Arms is very much an invented
novel, and Hemingway goes to considerable lengths to distinguish his protagonist from
himself. For one thing, Frederic, who had been a student of architecture in Italy when
World War I broke out, is considerably older and more knowledgeable than Hemingway
was. He serves on the Austro-Italian front from 1915 to 1917, when Ernest Hemingway
was still in high school. Catherine Barkley dies in the spring of 1918, when Hemingway
was working as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star. Hemingway did not see any of

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the action he writes about in the novel, yet through books and maps and the power of
his imagination, he makes it seem, as he put it in a 1935 article that the things he
relates all really happened and that he is just reporting them.30
Hemingway further separates himself from his protagonist by making Frederic a
less than admirable character, at least at the beginning of the novel. When he and
Catherine meet, it is clear that she has been rendered emotionally vulnerable because of
the death of her fiancee. Nonetheless Frederic takes advantage of the situation, pretending to emotions he does not feel in order to win the same of courtship. Even after they
become lovers, he does not give much of himself to the relationship. When you love31,
the priest in the officers mess tells Frederic, you wish to do things for. You wish to
sacrifice for. You wish to serve. 32 Both Catherine and Frederic fail to live up to this
ideal, but for different reasons. Catherine goes too far: she lets Frederic become her
religion and she seeks to obliterate her own personality by merging with him. (In her
selfless devotion, she stands at the opposite extreme from the real-life nurse Agnes von
Kurowsky.) Frederic does not go far enough, at least until near the end. He is called
boy or baby by practically everyone who knows him, and it takes him a long time
to grow up.
That Frederic does finally learn to love gives the novel its poignancy.
As Catherine suffers through the agony of her labor, he wants to be of
service: he feels grateful when the doctor lets him administer the
anesthetic. He realizes at last what he stands to lose should the loving,
humorous, and intelligent Catherine die. In his confusion he thrashes
about for explanations: they had broken the rules by sinning against
conventional morality, or it was simply bad luck, or it was Just nature
giving her hell.33 In a desperate prayer he offers to do anything if
God will only please make her not die34.
Finally, as in Indian Camp, there is a cesarean, but this time both baby and
mother die, and there is nothing to be done about it.
Hemingway maintained that he wrote thirty-nine different versions of the ending
of A Farewell to Arms, and scholars who have followed the trail of his manuscripts
confirm that figure, or something close to it. The variant endings fall into a number of
different categories.
In the original ending for the Scribner's Magazine serial, for instance,
Frederic proceeds to relate what has happened to him and to his wartime companions

16

since the night in April 1918 when Catherine Barkley died. But all the versions are alike
in leaving behind the bitter aftertaste of negation.35
A Farewell to Arms is a novel about love irredeemably lost, and it is fitting that
it should close with an emphasis on the nada that confronts Frederic as it does the
bereft old man in Hemingways A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, which appeared in Winner
Take Nothing. After the hemorrhaging kills Catherine, the doctor tries to reassure
Frederic that they had done the right thing to operate, but he will not respond. There is
nothing to do, nothing to say, 36 he does not want to talk about it. It is not any
good trying to say good-bye to Catherine either. Nothing is left but to walk back to the
hotel in the rain.
A Farewell to Arms stimulated considerable controversy when it was first
published, offending patriotic Italian-Americans, disturbing the queasy for its graphic
and detailed portrayal of Catherines passing, angering the fastidious for its barracks
language, and earning banishment in Boston for its frank treatment of the extramarital
affair between Frederic and Catherine. Despite such objections, most readers then as
now were genuinely moved by the book. The beauty and power of its prose placed the
thirty-year-old Hemingway in the front rank of American writers. The consensus is that
Hemingway peaked early, and that after The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms he
never again produced a novel that measured up to his capabilities. This emphatically
does not mean that his subsequent work can or should be dismissed out of hand. Even
very great writers cannot produce an unbroken string of masterpieces. Whatever they
publish merits attention.37

17

3. LESS-ACCOMPLISHED FEMALE
CHARACTERS

The less-accomplished character undertakes several meanings that are to be


explained in the following lines. First of all, these characters are to be shaped in the
shadow of the others. Less-achieved, without any possibility of expansion (through no
means of no sort) into the narrative act. These characters are presented in few words,
revealing only a sketch of that character.
The feminist critic would definitely notice the lack of female character
development in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. By indicating that the only well
developed, speaking characters are men, the critic would prove the degree to which
patriarchy has infiltrated the text. Feminist critics examine the manner in which women
are represented by both male and female authors. These critics view women as a
longsuffering, oppressed, and repressed segment of society, and attempt to revalue
womens experiences. Feminist critics question accepted norms of language and society
relative to the portrayal of women. As students of psychoanalysis, they seek a greater
understanding of female/male identities, and they question whether gender differences
are strictly due to biology or whether they are socially constructed and imposed.
Another aspect of feminist criticism is the willingness to look at the authors
experiences for a better understanding of the text.38
We could examine the girl walking with the soldier, noting that her being out
late at night with a man and having nothing covering her head implies that she is
loose. This is a woman the soldier does not respect because she must hurry to keep up
with him; he does not slow his pace to match hers. This portrayal of women as Other,
something to be used and discarded by men, is not a favorable point awarded to
Hemingway.

18

The critic would challenge not only this portrayal, but also that of the wife
waiting in bed39 for the young waiter as well as that of the niece who is
essentially a servant to the old man. These portrayals imply that women
have no life or function without men.40
In his work, the expression of this dialectic begins in the story Indian Camp in
his In Our Time (1925). It is a small, simple story: Dr. Adams, on vacation with his
brother and his son, a very young Nick, is summoned to an Indian settlement in northern
Michigan. A woman has been in agonizing labor for three days, and she suffers so
loudly that the men had moved off up the road to sit in the dark and smoke out of range
of the noise she made. 41 She lies on the lower bunk, while her husband, his foot so
badly cut with an ax three days before that he cannot be moved, is pinned in place in the
bunk above her.
Nick learns, actually he starts to learn about birth and death. His father tries to
explain about labor and how the womans contractions are related to her screams. I
see, Nick says, lying. And then the woman cries her agony again, and Nick begs, Oh,
Daddy, cant you give her something to make her stop screaming? 42
This is a story in a book of stories in which women and, surely, pregnant women
are invasive. It is a book that is in part about eluding women. But it is also the book of
Nick Adamss education to more than men without women. So it is essential when Dr.
Adams replies, first, that he hasnt any anesthetic, and then: But her screams are not
important. I dont hear them because they are not important. 43
After the doctor performs a Caesarian with a jackknife and fishing leaders, and
the infant is delivered, he examines the husband.
While Dr. Adams does not hear the screams Because they are not important, 44
the husband must hear the screams. He cannot move away, he is pinioned by his
maimed foot; he is caught in his life. Of course, Dr. Adams does hear the screams; he is
physically closer to the woman than her husband is. He is telling Nick that he chooses
not to hear them. When he exults over the success of his surgery, he also celebrates his
ability to focus on his own psychic survival.
In Ernest Hemingways short stories Indian Camp and Soldier's Home, young
women are treated as objects whose purpose is either reproduction or pleasure. They do
not and cannot participate to a significant degree in the masculine sphere of experience,
and when they have served their purpose, they are set aside. They do not have a voice in
the narrative, and they represent complications in life that must be overcome in one way

19

or another. While this portrayal of young women is hardly unique to Hemingway, the
author uses it as a device to probe the male psyche more deeply.
Another less-accomplished character is the female character from The Snows of
Kilimanjaro, Helen.
Harry, the writer, and his wife Helen are the main characters in The Snows of
Kilimanjaro.
Two people are waiting near Kilimanjaro for the arrival of a plane to take them
to civilization. The main character, Harry, a dissipated writer, has gangrene in his leg
from a thorn scratch which he neglected. With him is Helen, his wife, whom he hates
but whom he married for money. The price he paid for the money was the sacrifice of
his talent as a writer.
Harry knows that he is dying and as he waits he recalls his war experiences
where there had been a background of snow. Later he remembers Constantinople and
the Bosphorus, Paris as it was in his writing days, women of all types, war and death,
his grandfather's house, the Black Forest. He had meant to write it all down but instead
he had married Helen and her money.
As he grows weaker, he senses the approach of death, which seems to be
symbolized by the passing of a hyena, bolder and bolder. Death comes closer until the
dying man can feel its weight on his chest.
Then it seems to him that the plane arrives and he is taken aboard. The plane
flies higher and higher until he realizes that it is taking him to the clean beauty of the
snows of Kilimanjaro.
The hyena wakes Helen, who looks at her husband and sees that he is dead.
Harry's dialogues with Helen, specially at the beginning of the story, reveals the
first Harry: a man who is extremely irritated. He knows the end is near and inevitable
feelings of loss and defeat make him suffer. To make up for all his sufferings, Harry puts
the blame on Helen. He becomes sarcastic, aggressive and even cruel as he attempts to
convince them both that the fault was Helens money. He says: you can take the leg off
and that might stop it, though I doubt it. Or you can shoot me. Youre a good shot now. I
taught you to shoot, didnt I?45
He sarcastically apologizes for his evil- smelling leg and then he says he has
always faked his love for her.
Dont you love me? Helen asks.
No. said the man. I dont think so. I never have. 46

20

He calls her a bitch all the time and even execrates the notion of love. Love is
dunghill, says Harry, And Im the cock that gets on it to crow.

47

Afterwards he

apologizes and says Ive never loved anyone else the way I love you. 48 Saying that he
loves her relaxes him from his guilt, in a certain way.
Little by little Harrys hostility is abandoned. He stoically resigns himself to the
fact that he must die. It is then, by means of interior monologue, that emerges another
Harry, perhaps the real one: ashamed, afraid, with a desperate need to understand
himself and justify or compensate for his present situation.49
He then realizes how wrong it was to make a escapegoat out of Helen.
Why should he blame this woman because she kept him well? He had
destroyed his talent ....50
He tries to evade reality, dreaming of the past. He dreams of moments of
courage and joy that could have been good ideas for his books. On the other hand, he
also dreams of moments of horror and tragedy in war time.
But suddenly comes his final dream. He reaches the summit of Kilimanjaro,
leaving his failures and personal ruin behind on the plains.
Helen, as seen by her husband, is presented mostly in a negative perspective.
She is a death symbol for him. Harry considers that his wifes wealth has deprived him
of life far more than gangrene will. Helen and her money are for him agents of
destruction, like the vultures and the hyena.
When Harry speaks to her, he calls her a silly fool, a bore, a bitch but he admits
that she remains physically interesting and desirable.
She was still a good- looking woman, she had a pleasant body ... she
was not pretty, but he liked her face ... and he says that she had a
great talent and appreciation for the bed.51
Helen is a flat character as she does not change throughout the story.
Psychologically she had been acutely frightened of being alone 52, but as she
marries Harry she had built herself a new life 53 while he had traded away what
remained of his old life54 in a reference that Helen is a symbol of his destruction and
the corruption of his talent.
Another image of Helen presented in the story contrasts with the one given by
Harry. Ironically, while she is for him a death symbol, she appears by her words and
actions to be a positive illustration of life. She is presented as a maternal figure: she

21

struggles to make him comfortable, she proposes reading to him, worries about his rest,
has broth made from meat she herself shoots.
Helen gives Harry moral encouragement. She says: You cant die if you dont
give up. She keeps on telling him that the rescue plane will soon arrive and remarks
that the vultures and the hyena are common nuisance at any African camp site and not
harbingers of his death.
However Helen blames Africa for what it has done to her husband. She says:
I wish wed never come here.
... we could have gone shooting in Hungary and been comfortable.
And she asks in dismay: What have we done to have that happen to us?
In contrast to the character of Harry, Helen is a person who dislikes looking for
the hidden dimensions of people and things and has little interest in dreaming of the past
or fearing the future. This deep contrast between Helen and Harry stresses their basic
inability to communicate with each other.

22

4. ACCOMPLISHED/CREDIBLE FEMALE
CHARACTERS

Much has been written regarding Hemingways portrayal of female characters.


With the advent of feminist criticism, readers have become more vocal about their
dissatisfaction with Hemingways depictions of women, which, according to critics such
as Leslie A. Fiedler, tend to fall into one of two categories: overly dominant shrews,
like Lady Brett in The Sun Also Rises, and overly submissive confections, like Catherine
Barkley in A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway, Fiedler maintains, was at his best dealing
with men without women; when he started to involve female characters in his writing,
he reverted to uncomplicated stereotypes. A Farewell to Arms certainly supports such a
reading: it is easy to see how Catherines blissful submission to domesticity, especially
at the novels end, might rankle contemporary readers for whom lines such as Im
having a child and that makes me contented not to do anything suggest a bygone era
in which a womans work centered around maintaining a home and filling it with
children.55
Still, even though Catherines excessive desire to live a lovely life may, at times,
make her more archetypal than real, it is unfair to deny her the nuances of her character.
Although Catherine alludes to her initial days with Henry as a period when she was
slightly crazy, she seems perfectly aware of the fact that she and Henry are, at first,
playing an elaborate game of seduction. Rather than being swept off her feet by Henrys
declarations of love, she capably draws the line, telling him when she has had enough
for the night or reminding him that their budding love is a lie. In fact, Catherines
resistance holds out much longer than Henrys: even after Henry states that he loves her
and that their lives together will be splendid, Catherine exhibits the occasional doubt,
telling him that she is sure that dreadful things wait for them and claiming that she fears
having a baby because she has never loved anyone. Taking into account only what
Catherine says, not what she thinks, we or the reader are left to explain these infrequent

23

lapses in her otherwise unaltered devotion. Her premonition of dreadful things, for
instance, may simply be a general alarm about the war-torn world or some kind of guilt
for loving a man other than the fianc whom she is mourning as the book opens. While
the degree to which Catherine is conflicted remains open to debate, her loyalty to Henry
does not. She is a loving, dedicated woman whose desire and capacity for a redemptive,
otherworldly love makes her the inevitable victim of tragedy.
In the last chapter in A Farewell to Arms, when the pregnant Catherine Barkley
is having painful contractions, Frederic Henry, the narrator and protagonist of the novel,
reminds his wife that she is a brave good girl. A day later, after undergoing a
caesarian section and giving birth to a stillborn baby boy, Catherine proves just how
brave she is; though she knows she is dying, she still has the dignity and strength to
accept such a fate. In fact, she finds herself in the (unfair) position of trying to comfort
her lover who is destroyed. With death approaching, Catherines candor is remarkable
since her final words to Frederic suggest she possesses some sense or understanding of
her own mortality and of what is soon to come: Im not a bit afraid. Its just a dirty
trick56. The it Catherine refers to is presumably death, but, in fact, the indefinite may
be referring to life, a process Catherine views as a rotten game, since so much about it
is left to chance and death is always the end.
Such an insight advanced by Catherine is not at all unusual, for, from the time
she and Frederic first fall into love and up until the time of her death, Catherine
repeatedly reveals her inherent heroic qualities, especially in the way she reflects the
Hemingway code hero criterion of grace under pressure.57 Yet critics have repeatedly
misunderstood Catherine since the time of the novels publication some seventy years
ago. Those engaging in distinctly feminist analyses over the past twenty-five years
have been particularly harsh on Hemingway's characterization of Catherine, viewing it
as patronizing and shallow. In her response to the phallocentric canon of American
literature and the corresponding way that women have been conditioned to read it,
Judith Fetterley, in The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction
(1977), accuses Catherine of suffering from compulsive apologizing, and faults her for
submissively taking upon herself the burdens of Frederics sins and for dying, for him.
Millicent Bell is no less biting in her article Pseudoautobiography and Personal
Metaphor (1984), where she calls Catherine a sort of inflated rubber woman available at
will to the onanistic dreamer. And Mimi Reisel Gladstein, in The Indestructible Woman
in Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck (1986), furthers the anti-Catherine argument by

24

insisting that Catherine is definitely other, object not subject. She is reduced to playing
the role of functionary in mans fulfillment 58. Moreover, in those few defenses of
Catherine there where critics who actually praise Hemingways insight and sensitivity in
his female characterization, but she still cannot completely escape tough critical scrutiny
and thus remains misunderstood.
Biographer Kenneth Lynn acknowledges Catherines beauty, yet he also
mentions that she possesses a jittery, neurotic manner. In A Farewell to Arms: The War
of the Words (1992), Robert W. Lewis, who credits Catherine for her insight and heroic
nature, nevertheless feels that she is, in a way, a one-dimensional pasteboard figure.
Nancy R. Comley and Robert Scholes round out the attack on Catherines character in
Hemingways Genders: Rereading the Hemingway Text (1994). Although their study is
aimed at assessing Hemingways female characters for their complexity and strength,
they still include the following statement: Catherine willingly abdicates from what
little self she has to give herself over to Frederic's desires 59. Catherine does sacrifice
on behalf of her husband; however, Comley and Scholess critique may cause
readers to misinterpret Catherine Barkley because it does not make a very important
distinction about Catherines character. Catherine does not have a little self because
she is shallow and weak, but because she is a selfless individual who recognizes that
others, like Frederic Henry, need more of her than she needs of herself. 60

But

Catherine should not be reduced to such simplifications, for she is indeed a complicated
character. She does have purpose in and of herself; she does have a strong sense of who
she is; she does have a presence as significant as her lovers; she does have a sensual
appreciation of life; and, most of all, she understands it, the code, the entire rotten
game. Sandra Whipple Spanier notes in Catherine Barkley and The Hemingway Code:
Ritual and Survival in A Farewell to Arms (1987), the code demands a lust for life and
a cheerful disregard of doom61. This is what Catherine exhibits and this is who she is.
Catherine seems to embody yet simultaneously defy Philip Youngs idea of the code
hero. According to Young, such a character is a man who is usually but not always
associated with Hemingway himself in some way; who is skilled; who does not think or
talk about it, regardless of what it might be; and who takes great pleasure in life, in
the forms of food, alcohol, and sex. For Young,
he who possesses the code knows, the controls of honor and courage
which in a life of tension and pain make a man a man and distinguish

25

him from the people who follow random impulses, let down their hair,
and are generally messy, perhaps cowardly, and without inviolable rules
for how to live holding tight62.
Why Young has limited his definition only to include women is puzzling.
Certainly, with her experience and maturity, Catherine is closer to being the code hero
than Frederic Henry is. He may be the apprentice, learning to deal with it, but he has
not yet graduated to this stage of gallantry. If anyone understands the code in A
Farewell to Arms, it is Catherine Barkley. We might wonder if the mystery surrounding
Catherine Barkley emanates from the fact that she was based on real people whom
Hemingway knew and loved. Hemingway never denied that Catherine was the fictional
counterpart of two distinct women whom he loved, namely Agnes von Kurowsky and
his first wife, Hadley Richardson. (Some critics contend that Catherine also resembles
Hemingways mother, Grace Hall. According to Mimi Reisel Gladstein, all of
Hemingways female characters are amalgamations of Grace, Agnes, and Hadley: they
are projections of his responses to the three main women in his life during the years
when his understanding of the female sex was being formed 63. In addition, we could
mention how Catherines caesarian delivery in the novel is analogous to Hemingways
second wifes (Pauline) with son Gregory in 1931; however, Hemingways son, unlike
Catherine and Frederics, did survive. Since she was a Red Cross nurse who worked in
an American hospital during World War I, von Kurowsky more closely corresponds to
Catherine, because she too holds the same position, than did Hemingways eventual
wife, though there is a noticeable evidence of Hadley in Catherines characterization
and experiences. (For example, Hadley and Ernest spent time in the same Swiss
locations that Catherine and Frederic do.) Like the fictional Lieutenant Henry,
Hemingway incurred profound wounds to the left and right thigh and left and right knee
and right foot while working on the Italian front, and von Kurowksy attended him at
Ospedale Crose Rossa Americana in Milan. There grew a gradual attraction between
them, and the two did become close, though they eventually separated, she volunteered
to work at a hospital in Florence while he remained in Milan. Later, after he had
returned to the States, she sent him a letter, and Hemingway was crushed; when her
boat docked in New York on her later return trip to America. Without a doubt,
Hemingway molded Catherine Barkley on Agnes von Kurowsky, though the fictional
scenario ended far better than his own affair did. Because A Farewell to Arms is what

26

reviewer Perry Hutchinson called in the September 29, 1929, issue of The New York
Times a war novel, complete with a narrator who serves as the commander of a group of
ambulance drivers on the Italian front, readers and reviewers have regularly interpreted
the novel to be Lieutenant Henrys story 64. Such a reading is understandable, since the
structure of the novel is retrospective, the narrative begins after Frederic has deserted
his wartime post, and after Catherine and their baby have died, so the story is Frederics,
since it is told from his subjective point of view. But, as he editorializes during the
telling of his experiences, he reveals how drastically his life has changed as a result of
meeting and falling in love with the lovely girl and, in turn, does not provide an
autobiography, but rather reports the story of Catherine Barkley, a committed nurse, a
loyal and loving wife, and a strong and confident woman.
James Nagel, in his article Catherine Barkley and Retrospective Narration
(1987), elaborates on Frederics instinctively eulogistic narrative: Catherine Barkley
exists in the novel only in the memory of Frederic Henry, only in the reflections of a
man who came to love her, who lost her, and who grieves and assesses his behavior a
decade after she has died.65
Catherine affects Frederic so deeply that his sense of self, his very identity, is
the product of her hand work. In fact, William P. Spofford, in his article Beyond the
Feminist Perspective: Love in A Farewell to Arms, a quasi-supporter of feminists and
their reactions to Hemingways fiction, argues that power and control are not issues in
Catherine and Frederics relationship, primarily because the two characters are equally
needy of one another; just as Catherines identity is totally dependent on Frederic,
Frederics identity is totally dependent on Catherine. 66 The mutual love of Frederic
and Catherine degrades neither; rather, it elevates both together. Spofford recognizes
how critical Catherine is to Frederic's development. Yet one could expand upon
Spoffords argument, noting, for instance, how Catherine, unlike Frederic, already
knows who she is. As she and Frederic immerse themselves in their newfound romance,
she declares to her lover: There isnt any me anymore. Just what you want. 67 Catherine
has loved before, so she knows when she is experiencing the same kind of emotion
again. Here she is not surrendering herself to Frederic but giving Frederic the
opportunity to explore and to feel their love, emotions and feelings with which she is
already familiar. Thus, it seems as though Hemingway has posted Catherine, not
Frederic as many critics have claimed over the years, in the role of code hero in this
novel; ultimately, Frederic proves to be the passive recipient of her knowledge and

27

experience, for when she dies, everything is gone inside of him 68. Occasionally some
critics have recognized the importance of Catherine to Frederic and to the novel, but
many remain skeptical because the motivations prompting Catherines behavior can be
difficult to decipher; her words and actions often seem extravagant. When Frederic and
Catherine first become involved, for instance, Catherine responds to Frederics attempt
to kiss her by slapping him, yet only moments later she tells him, You are a dear. Id be
glad to kiss you if you dont mind. At a superficial look we might assume that
Catherine is either being a tease, or that she is a little crazy, or possibly, that she is a
little of both. However, Hemingway justifies Catherines actions by including crucial
exposition, namely, concerning the detail of her fiancees recent death while away at
war, and by intimating that Catherine is somewhat reluctant to become romantically involved with another man. Nancy R. Comley and Robert Scholes suggest that Catherine
succumbs to Frederic's advances because she uses him as a substitute for the dead man.
This is debatable, for, if she is indeed using Frederic, is she conscious of being so
manipulative? Comley and Scholes never say. But, in their chapter, Mothers, Nurses,
Bitches, Girls, and Devils, they do suggest that too many episodes between the two
principal characters in the novel are misinterpreted, and consequently, Catherine, they
argue, appalls many (feminist) readers because she is seemingly so compliant towards
Frederic and their relationship. Catherine does not sacrifice or abdicate herself to her
lover, however, but acts the part she thinks will help to strengthen the bond they share:
readers might see Catherine not as erasing herself so much as assuming a role in a game
of sex and love that allows her to transfer her affections to a man other than her dead
fiancee. She assumes the role of whore as means of escaping profoundly restrictive
cultural codes and switching back to her role as nurse, she becomes the ministering
angel. Comley and Scholes are right to recognize Catherines role-playing, though
Catherine never seems fully accepting of her role as whore.69 In their hotel room,
Frederic tells Catherine she is not a whore, and her response to him is, I know it,
darling. But it isnt nice to feel like one: she wants to be more to her lover than a
sexual commodity in spite of the fact that she engages in sexual relations with Frederic
before they ever marry. We might see that there is something even more crucial about
Catherines behavior than her various impersonations; not only can she transform
herself at will, but her ability to do so suggests she, not Frederic, the man, possesses the
power in their relationship. Inexperienced in love and life, Frederic must follow
Catherines lead, for she knows when to be naughty or nice and directs Frederic

28

appropriately. Catherine reminds Frederic that they must be cautious during their nights
in the hospital: We have to be awfully careful. Youll have to be careful in front of
other people. Later in the novel, after Frederic has deserted his post but does not want
to think about the possibility that the Italian police could come after him, Catherine
reminds him, Darling, youre liable to be arrested here any time. I wont have it. And
in her final moments of love, Catherine tells Frederic not to touch her because she
knows she is dying, and she is trying, in her brave and true way, to distance herself so
Frederic might be spared some pain. Each time Catherine instructs Frederic, he heeds
her advice willingly. In one key scene, Frederic takes Catherines hand, puts his arm
under her arm, and then, in spite of her protests, tries to get even more intimate: he leans
forward in the dark to kiss her. She responds by slapping a sharp stinging flash
across his face, for she just couldnt stand the nurses-evening-off aspect of it, and she
does not want to be treated or viewed as perhaps another of his whores. Not only is she
concerned about her identity, but Catherine understands that there are consequences to
actions; just as Frederic should be prepared to be slapped by Catherine since he has
chosen to place his arm on hers against her wishes, Catherine should likewise expect to
have a strange life since she decides to be with Frederic. Thus Catherine shares this
sense of understanding with the priest, a man Frederic very much admires and
cryptically describes: He had always known what I did not know and what, when I
learned it, I was always able to forget. But I did not know that then, although I learned
it later. The priest, for instance, foresees the inevitabilities of Frederic Henry's life.
When he visits Frederic after Frederic has been wounded, the priest feels very low,
for the ravages of war are beginning to take their toll on his hopeful heart. The priest
asks Frederic if he loves God, and Frederic claims that he does not love much; still,
the priest reassures him that someday he will experience and understand love: You
will. I know you will. Then you will be happy 70. And indeed, his prediction proves
true, for Frederic falls so deeply in love with Catherine that at the end of the novel,
when she seriously hemorrhages, Frederic, knowing Catherine might die, thinks to
himself, Everything was gone inside of me. Both Catherine and the priest know
enough not to talk about this it, and thus they both possess code-heroic traits 71. Not
only do Catherine and the priest better understand the essence of life than Frederic, but
so does his close friend Rinaldi. A jovial man who enjoys a good drink, Rinaldi also
possesses great insight. When his conversation gets too philosophical for Frederic's

29

tastes, Rinaldi humors Frederic in telling him, You puncture me when I become a great
Italian thinker. But I know many things I cant say. I know more than you.
He continues to pontificate further, the exemplar to Frederic's apprentice: We
never get anything. We are born with all we have and we never learn. We never get
anything new. We all start complete. Rinaldi understands the it of life, that is to say,
the key to good living, and he, like the priest and Catherine, tries to share this
knowledge with Frederic, though Frederic's comprehension develops slowly, if at all.72
While Catherine knows all along that the power of choice determines what
people do and experience, Frederic's realization of such an important truth is belated.
Nevertheless, as Judith Fetterley has aptly noted in The Resisting Reader (1977), that
Catherine has always made the critics uneasy. Oftentimes, they have alleged that
Catherine is deliberately vacuous and flat so she can act as Frederics attendant, or if
they have defended her, typically it has been in limited ways. Even Frederic, who
surmises about the nature of war and its victims, is oblivious to how poignantly his
words apply to his own wifes exceptional sense of knowledge and courage: If people
bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them. The world breaks every
one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that it will not break
it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. The
fact that Catherine Barkley confuses and eludes many of her readers is a testimony to
the authors talent for creating a complicated and courageous female character; critical
uncertainty (in this case) translates into triumph for Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway is well known as a man's man. In his life and in his writing, he
occupied an extremely masculine world, a world of war, hunting, and bull fights.
Hemingway's macho characters are so strongly drawn that critics created a new prototype
to define them: the Hemingway hero. This hero has almost always been a man.
Many feminist literary critics find Hemingway hostile toward woman. Women,
they argue, are portrayed as a corrupt influence on men, somehow diluting their
masculine powers.
In Hemingway's short story, Hills Like White Elephants, we discover a female
character, Jig, who contradicts this conventional theory. In this essay we will argue that
Jig, a mere girl, and not the American man, conducts herself more truthfully to the
characteristics of the traditional Hemingway hero. We will define the supremely heroic,
distinctly Hemingway concept of grace under pressure as courage, honor, and the
ability to cope with pain and suffering in the most difficult situations.

30

No doubt, the man and the girl are in an extremely tense situation. She is
pregnant and he wants her to have an abortion. They are discussing a life and death
situation, literally for the unborn child, and figuratively for their relationship.
Hemingway has set a strong scene at a remote train station on a hot afternoon.
True heroes demonstrate courage in all aspects of their lives, not just on the
battlefield. In this story, Jig is the courageous one. She is willing to call the situation
what it is, to speak out, if sarcastically, about their shallow relationship. That's all we
do isn't it, look at things and try new drinks?
It seems that she is brave enough to go through with the pregnancy while he is
too selfish and afraid, But I don't want anybody but you. I don't want anyone else. He
cannot face up the change and challenge that life brings them. Ironically, he's the one
trying to build up her courage to have the operation.
To speak and act honorably is another important feature of the Hemingway hero.
The American man appears without honor. Throughout the story he is nagging the girl,
practically begging her to have the abortion because he doesn't want to deal with it. He
returns again and again to the subject despite her objections. Even after her famous line,
Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?, he persists.
He also tries to manipulate her with passive-aggressive rhetoric: Well, the man
said, if you don't want to you don't have to. I wouldn't have you do it if you didn't want
to. But I know it's perfectly simple.
Further, a man of honor would act honorably. He would accept and not try to
escape from his responsibilities to the girl and their child. He would live up to what he
has done and do the right thing. Instead, the American man is not only not honoring his
commitment to the relationship and the life he helped to create, but he is also placing
the burden of both the decision and the physical procedure on the girl's shoulders.
In the end, it is the girl, not the American man, who has to deal with the
repercussions their joint action. She will suffer the pain of the loss of her child, the
regret of what could have been. She will have to go through with a procedure that is
not as simple and risk-free as the man claims, especially if it is to be performed in
Catholic Spain, where abortions were illegal.73
When the girl realizes that they cant have everything, that their relationship,
her dreams, the world is slipping away, she resigns to the situation and copes with quiet
resolve. She knows that once the opportunity is taken away, you can never get it back.
74

Ironically, she is the one to speak the words every Hemingway hero was supposed to

31

be thinking, I dont feel any way, the girl said. I just know things. And in classic
Hemingway style, the girl does not complain or weep or beat her chest but says simply,
Theres nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.75
While Hemingway sets up what seems to be an unequal relationship from the
start, she is just a girl, while he is a man, the characters do not act according to the
traditional roles established by this designation. Instead the girl is more courageous,
more honorable and shows a greater ability to cope with suffering and pain without
complaint. The American man appears a coward, he finds his way out of an
uncomfortable situation because he simply cannot or will not deal with it. Through this
analysis, Hills Like White Elephants offers a unique and unconventional example of
Hemingway's code whereby the girl, not the man, is awarded the badge of courage.

32

5.WAS HEMINGWAY A MISOGYNIST?


OR NOT?

To better understand the word misogynist we consulted the dictionary.


According to Longmans Dictionary of Contemporary English we find the word
explained as: a man who hates women76 and according to Websters Desk Dictionary
misogyny is defined as hatred of or hostility toward women 77. We cannot say that
Hemingway fits perfectly in these two definitions, but we can see that he has an opinion
on women which is at least questionable. His women are small and always found
some steps behind the man.
Ernest Hemingway has often been accused of misogyny in his treatment of
female characters. His women too often seem to be projections of male needfulness 78.
Many of his stories are seen as prototypical bildungsroman stories, which usually are
about young men coming of age. There are few, if any, stories in the canon of women
coming of age, however, and Hemingway is not the first to suffer the wrath of feminist
critics. But is this wrath justified?
Some have placed Hemingway within the misogynist genre. The cliches abound
in his work, his stories were about men in search of their manhood and women are
merely forces who help men to accomplish something or who prevent the man from
doing something or being someone. Women are presented as an archetypal Eve and this
is somehow favorable.
According to Wilma Garcia Hemingways characterizations of women adhere
very closely to roles and functions traditionally prescribed by our society as models for
the female, particularly the woman as sexual partner. The distinction between and bad
women in Hemingways works is an ironic adaptation of the same distinction to be
found throughout our mythic literature.79

33

Catherine Barkley in A Farewell to Arms is a good woman caught up in a tragic


world that does not reward her virtue; Maria in For Whom the Bell Tools is a redeemed
woman whose goodness is reestablished by her lovers death; in The Short Happy Life
of Francis Macomber, Margot Macomber is bad, a woman whose selfish infidelity kills
her husband before the bullet from her rifle does; and Brett Ashley in The Sun Also
Rises is a woman who cannot be good, who cannot meet the needs of her man, because
both are maimed survivors of a world already dead.
Traditions that perceive women as dependent upon men and womens roles as
secondary to theirs have at the same time developed symbolic systems in which
femininity encompasses quite literally everything in creation. Perceptions of the
female as object, and objects as feminine, are a natural outgrowth that see the universe
as a macrocosm in which the Deity is a masculine creative force dominating and
containing feminine creation, reflected in the microcosm of a world where active male
dominates passive female.80
Women do figure importantly in many of Hemingways works (with the obvious
exception of the collection of short stories, entitled Men Without Women). In the major
novels, however, although the emphasis is still on a male hero and his story is very
definitely told from the traditional masculine perspective, female characters are an
important part of the heros efforts to complete his quest. Garcia sees these women as
companions in adversity rather than conventional Penelopes waiting by their looms to
be rescued at the heros return81. However, the characterizations of these women are
nonetheless stereotypical in that women in these works do represent several symbolic
values conventionally assigned to the female.82
As we examine the first of his major novels, The Sun Also Rises, which has two
heroes, one caught in linear time and the other unable to escape the endless circle, we
will see how the fluctuating union of time and space, male and female, acts to prevent
either the hero from claiming his prize.
Brett becomes the pseudo-masculine woman, substituting empty sexual flings
and an endless ritual of bathing for the meaningful and fruitful relationship she deludes
herself into wanting with Jake because it is unattainable 83. Brett, however, is also
Jakes female counterpart, and has lost the power to form emotional attachments, the
female element of the sexual union, as surely as Jake has become impotent. She is a
woman with a mans name and a boys haircut who refers to herself as a chap, but she

34

uses her female body in a series of promiscuous encounters that only emphasize her
maimed female sexuality.
Brett, like Jake, then, represents the mythos of sterility. It is a sterile
generation, a generation lost in the aftermath of an uncompleted quest.84
In A Farewell To Arms, we begin with an image of pregnancy but, ironically, it
now becomes a symbol of death instead of life, as the mens bellies bulge with
implements of destruction, not life, andthey will deliver death from under their
sodden capes85. Catherine Barkley can be seen as representative of the feminine
element of this inverted reenactment of the Christian myth. As such, she is an ironic
figure of the Virgin Mother, a Lady of Sorrows who herself suffers and dies in a vain
attempt to bring forth new life in a world where death prevails.
This virgin sterility is also evident in the character of Maria in For Whom The
Bell Tools, Robert Jordan is a hero who has already reclaimed this despoiled and
probably barren Virgin through the power of his love, and has transformed her into the
image of Maria Reparatrix. He has also created her in his own image. Maria, with her
shaved head and her reed-thin body is boyish, then, like Brett, almost a mirror image of
Robert Jordan himself.86
Hemingways short story, Indian Camp, is a story in a book of stories I which
women and, surely, pregnant women are invasive. It is a book that is in part about
eluding women. But it is also the book of Nick Adamss education to more than men
without women. Dr. Adams does not hear the screams of the woman giving birth, they
are not important. The Indian womans husband, on the other hand, cannot escape the
screams, pinioned by his maimed foot, and kills himself to escape.
But is it the woman's screams that Hemingway means in this story? Perhaps it is
the woman in Hemingway himself, screaming at his own pain. The man would
have killed himself to escape, but the woman must endure. This theme, the ruined
legs and, thus, the inescapable screams, are repeated in Hemingway's work. The young
(feminine) Romero faces death with the bulls in The Sun Also Rises; the man, Jake, is
impotent; he can only watch Romero with the bulls, he can only watch Romero with
Brett. In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Harry says to his wife, as he suffers with his
gangrenous leg, You can shoot me. You're a good shot now. I taught you to shoot,
didn't I? Harry does not have the strength to endure; neither does he have the strength
to kill himself. Hemingway's epigraph may well have been intended as Hemingway's
epitaph. The image of the leopard dead on Kilimanjaro is part of his trying to evade the

35

screams, perhaps, or part of his giving in to them. Surely, the image Hemingway's
conversation with himself about his art, the matter of life and death.
We see a lot of criticism as name-calling and not very useful. . . . We call
Hemingway emasculated or fretful about his masculinity, and then not have to read him
anymore. . . . We could indicate Hemingway's androgynous women or women turned
into daughter and discuss incest with strong mothers and sisters and clinging
daughters and women whose haircuts make them seem like boys, and then not have
to read him anymore. . . . Obviously, I am in favor of reading him to learn from his art
what he clearly was compelled to say again and again: that the refusal to hear the
screams and to give in to them was based on the need to perform dangerous duty.87
Because of the stereotypical views of Hemingway and his art, some readers fail
to see Hemingway's art apart from the expected response, primarily that his personal
and artistic world was one of machismo.
Some call the feminist criticisms of Hemingway misdirected, misguided, a
misreading.
Robert Penn Warren in An Introduction to Ernest Hemingway's A
Farewell to Arms, sees these works as love stories. But I fail to see who these men are
in love with the women and the men often do not seem gendered at all. The men are
impotent or emasculated; the women are masculine and emasculating, or, alternatively,
unidimensional and self-demeaning. I believe that Hemingway was not presenting
women at all--but I also don't believe that he was attempting to.88
So, is Hemingway a misogynist or an androgynous? Has he bought into the
stereotypical image of women, or has he seen through it and used it to show it up for
what it is destructive of both male and female? Was Hemingway's machismo simply a
mask for his insecurities about his own gendered self, or is there an inherent reaching
out for completeness in all these works, a recognition of equality of purpose and of
need?
Some critics suggest that Hemingways mother was a lesbian. I found on the
Internet an article about the subject. The first to suggest this was in a 1987 New York
Times Book Review of Kenneth S. Lynns biography

Hemingway. So often in the

Hemingway canon, writers state the apocryphal as if it were an established fact.


Lynn's was the first book, however, to draw popular attention to some of the
sexual themes that would preoccupy Hemingway studies in academia for the following
decade: androgyny, sexual role reversals, homosexuality, haircuts and sexual identity,

36

skin color and sexuality, and suggestions of incest in Hemingway's texts and life. The
spate of critics looking sexually slant at the master of machismo was spawned by the
posthumous publication of The Garden of Eden in 1984. Hemingway had reportedly
worked at this manuscript from 1946 until near his death in 1961 89. The 1,500 pages he
left behind were pared down to a marketable number by a relatively unknown editor,
leaving the story of a gender-bending menage a trois whose characters resembled
Hemingway and his first two wives.
The author of the article, Marie J. Kuda tells how she ended up writing that
article (*see the Appendix).
Maybe this story can help us decide if Hemingways mother was a lesbian and if
he was influenced in his work by this. Maybe thats why a part of his female characters
are the way they are
Lesbian ideologists in the academy intent on transmogrifying Hemingway into a chainsaw sexist (the phrase is Susan F. Beegel's in
American Literary Scholarship (1990), may bitch that Hemingway was a
macho fake and a sexist pig whose simplistic stories of sex and safaris
degrade women. But as new facts about Hemingway's life and his
relationships have emerged, fact by fact, the image of a complex, deeper,
and more difficult writer has come into focus, a writer who simply
cannot be tied down in any gender-obsessed strait jacket.90
Kenneth Lynn finds the novelist's mother to be the key to his art. We have long
known that Hemingway regarded his mother as being as dangerous dead as most
women are alive. (Hemingway once said: I know I'd never go to her funeral without
being afraid that she was boobytrapped. 91). What could she have done to him?
Dominant, overbearing, and emasculating, Grace Hemingway dressed and treated the
boy Ernest like a girl, while praising his little manliness, with the effect that the boy
suffered a sexual wound, developed an androgynous sensibility, and experienced
lifelong male insecurity and sexual anxiety. If the writer blamed her for this, the fiction
he wrote is, a proof of conflicted sexual feelings that are manifest in transsexual
fantasies, motifs of twinning, and overtones of incest. We can see several novels and
stories as expressive, more or less, of a recurrent and irresistible longing in some part of
Hemingway's psyche to experience and recount life as it is experienced by a woman.

37

Certainly there are indeed some remarkable stories which center on the experience of
women characters Up in Michigan, for example, and Cat in the Rain.
One would think that Lynn's sympathetic analysis of the deep feminine
component of Hemingway's psyche, and the literary transformations of it in the fiction,
would have assuaged the misplaced anger of radical feminists, who ought now to have a
ground for seeing Hemingway in a more sympathetic light, as a wounded figure
struggling to give expression to the gune within. But somehow Hemingway is still
widely regarded, by some of the membership of the Modern Language Association, as
anti-feminist through and through and worthy only of denunciation. Only a male critic,
Mark Spilka, in Hemingway's Quarrel with Androgyny (1989), has taken up the critical
challenge posed by Lynn's reconfiguration of the psychic life of the novelist. (Setting
Grace aside for the moment, Spilka finds that elements of androgyny, or at least the
confusion of gender roles, in fact permeated the Victorian literature that Hemingway
read and so naturally found its way into the prose as a Zeitgeist element.).92
If we turn away from outraged literary criticism by women to biographies of
Hemingway (or of his wives) by women, we note a curious fact: there is more sympathy
for the writer than one might have supposed. For Hemingway's women biographers, it is
of course the writer's relationship with women that is the key to the life. Many of
Hemingway's sisters, lovers, wives, and ex-wives Marcelline and Carol Hemingway,
Agnes von Kurowsky, Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn, and Mary
Welsh, among others, wrote about or talked about him in the heterosexual context and
often at length; and it
is surprising to note that, whatever their personal stresses and strains, with
the exception Martha Gellhorn they all remained on fairly good terms with Hemingway
while he was alive; and sometimes as Bernice Kert notes in The Hemingway Women:
Those Who Loved Him- The Wives and Others (1983), these women afterward became
friends of one another.93
But didn't Hemingway really hate women? Wasn't he sadistic to them? The
question recurs in feminist criticism.
I read that a friend of Hemingway's, Pete Lanham, concluded after a visit to the
Finca, that Ernest hated all women except the one who was currently a good sex partner.
But in James Tuttletons essay Hemingway Unbound, Miss Kert observes otherwise:
The reverse may be closer to the truth, that Ernest liked and admired many women, but

38

could not make the necessary adjustments in close relationships. Well, if he couldn't
make the necessary adjustments, weren't these women's lives pretty much hell?
Mary Welsh Hemingway, the novelist's fourth wife, was so often pitied by
feminists who supposed her life with Hemingway must have been awful that she
concludes How It Was (1976) with a bit of invented dialogue in which she answers the
questions that were so often put to her. One of these involved her submission to her
husband: Did you feel yourself slaving for Ernest in Cuba? And she responds: I
slaved at the Finca as that lovely man, Artur Rubinstein, slaves at the piano. Most
blessed are they who enjoy their work, I think. Another similar question was put to her:
Do you concur that men are chauvinist pigs?, to which she responded:
No more than that women are chauvinist sows. I'm thankful for almost every
man I've known and the mother who produced him. I've been remarkably lucky with
men friends, it seems to me. Through all these years only one fellow quote took
advantage unquote of me, as I recall, and I don't include Noel's (a former husband's)
heisting our joint bank account. Otherwise those sweet, various alliances ended, for
whatever reasons, with our continuing to be cheerful friends.94
Clearly, for Mary and many of the other women in Hemingway's life, Ernest was
no anti-feminine monster. But the various wives and lovers of Hemingway provide, in
fact, only one key to understanding the man and his work.
Tuttleton comments on another essay Hemingway: A Life without Consequences;
he tells us that James R. Mellow finds a new pattern in the carpet, though it is woven out
of some of the same sexual threads that have absorbed Hemingway's other biographers. It
comes down to male bonding. Mellow distinguishes his work from that of his
predecessors by highlighting Hemingway's lifetime dedication to male camaraderie, the
male idylls of fishing and hunting expeditions that were always a necessary part of his life
and well-being. In some ways, he was more demanding, more discerning in his fiction, as
well about men than about women. A pattern was established: he needed to be the central
figure in gregarious collections of male friends. 95
Mellow tells about Hemingway that he had the capacity for attracting male
friends like a magnet in the midst of stray nails. 96 Tuttleton says that Mellows book is
festooned with photographs of Hemingway with groups of boys and then of men who
formed one or another masculine circle. Some of them, like Morley Callaghan in That
Summer in Paris (1963), Denis Brian in The True Gen (1988), and A. E. Hotchner in
Papa Hemingway (1966) wrote about what it was like to hang out with Hem97.

39

But there was also a large group of shadowy men friends, many of them not
writers, who for shorter or longer periods knew Hemingway closely and who enjoyed
with him non-literary pursuits: the bar-hopping, the fishing expeditions, the skiing and
hunting trips, the swapping of war stories over brandy and cigars. Tuttleton observes
that Mellow adds to the worlds knowledge of Hemingway by identifying and making
plain to us what Hemingway found in the companionship of Jim Gamble, Bill Smith,
Charlie Hopkins, Carl Edgar, Bill Horne, Howell Jenkins, Chink Dorman-Smith, and so
many others.
In his effort to create the special feeling associated with male camaraderie,
Hemingway, Mellow argues, chose his men friends very carefully. Most of them were a
few years older than he (as, by the way, were a number of Hemingway's wives and
lovers). These men were generally less self-assured than he, and sometimes there was
some weakness in their character or some lack of self-worth. Even if older, they
had to be ignorant of, or at least willing to take instruction in hunting, fly-fishing, the
caginess of bull elephants and wounded lions, or the finer points of taurine behavior. It
was also necessary for Hemingway to appear to be the expert on what women want and
on the sexual techniques that will satisfy them. Generally, the circle of Hemingway's
male friends regarded him as a charismatic presence, a genuine hero, a brilliant talker,
a great drinker, and a world-class sportsman. He flourished in such company. But he
frequently dealt with his friends ironically and acerbically, or with condescension,
perhaps because they allowed him to dominate them.98
Robert McAlmon and Zelda Fitzgerald, declared enemies spread a rumor that
Hemingway's masculinity was a doubtful proposition at best. And certainly a number of
homosexual men were drawn to Hemingway. As Agnes von Kurowsky offhandedly
remarked to Mary Welsh Hemingway, You know how he was. Men loved him. You
know what I mean. Hemingway had genuine affection it is not too much to call it love,
for a number of his male friends. But he was frankly repelled by homosexuals, rejected
their advances, and shut off conversation about masculine friendship. In The Sun Also
Rises there is this scene in which Bill Gorton says to Jake:
Listen. You're a hell of a good guy, and I'm fonder of you than anybody
on earth. I couldn't tell you that in New York. It'd mean I was a faggot.
That was what the Civil War was about. Abraham Lincoln was a faggot.
He was in love with General Grant. So was Jefferson Davis. Lincoln just
freed the slaves on a bet. The Dred Scott was framed by the Anti-Saloon

40

League. Sex explains it all. The Colonel's Lady and Judy O'Grady are
Lesbians under their skin.
He stopped.
Want to hear some more?
Shoot, I said.
I don't know any more. Tell you some more at lunch.
Old Bill, I said.
You bum!
The problem of Hemingway's male characters is how to indicate friendship for
each other without its being misconstrued as homosexual affection; and open verbal
disgust is the way out of an edgy situation where affection is sensed but the expression
of it must be repressed. Mellow observes that the great threat to these male rites (the
fishing trips, the safaris, the drinking bouts) and male bonding, now a very trendy
subject, was suspicion of homosexuality, about which Hemingway, from beginning to
end, was rabidly outspoken. Homosexuality is invariably a profound evil in his fiction,
though I have never understood whether Hemingway's view had a moral basis. Did
Papa think of it as sterile or as subversive to rightly directed sexuality, which is
procreative and life-affirming? In A Moveable Feast, Mellow reminds us, Hemingway
records an episode in which Gertrude Stein appears to speak his mind in remarking that
the act committed by male homosexuals was ugly and repugnant, and afterward the
men were disgusted with themselves, took to drugs, and made frequent changes of
sexual partners. Therefore, they were never happy with themselves.99
Whether Stein really thought this, or whether Hemingway put into her mouth a
few illuminating prejudices of his own, we cannot say. But it is clear that Hemingway
regarded with contempt the male homosexuals who crossed his path.
Some critics say that Hemingway was entirely comfortable with and intrigued
by the lesbian relationships among his women friends, including Stein and Toklas, Janet
Flanner, the pianist Renata Borgatti, etc. Hemingway's fascination with Gertrude Stein
and other lesbians involved what they might be like with him as a sexual partner. In
Stein's case, Hemingway was drawn to the older writer's beautiful eyes and strong
German-Jewish face, her lovely, thick, alive immigrant hair, and those big breasts that,
he told Hadley must have weighed ten pounds apiece. If, grotesquely, Hemingway
wanted to sleep with Gertrude Stein, and he said he did, the desire came out of literary
competitiveness or the commonplace heterosexual belief that one can turn the

41

homosexual toward normal sexuality. Hemingway seems to have been, in any case,
incapable of looking at Stein in any other way.
Tuttleton remarks that Bernice Abbott once complained, Hemingway looked at
women only sexually, not as people.100
Hemingway often broke off his male friendships, sometimes by performing an
act so rude that it provoked the friend to call it off for him. It appears to be the case that
Hemingway let very few men get close to him, at least for very long. Maybe because of
some kind of fear of being thought to be a homosexual?
Aside from an ordinary natural desire for masculine company,
especially in rough and risky outdoor activities, Hemingway's male
friendships seem rooted in another desire that Mellow sketches in very
delicately. These male friendships seem intended to re-create the Edenic
world of sensuous pleasures such as Hemingway had known up in
Michigan during his boyhood.101
But if men most often served Hemingway in the re-creation of those early
experiences of Edenic outdoor adventure, the problem is that there can be no Eden
without an Eve. The nurse Agnes von Kurowsky dumped Hemingway before he could
draw her into the outdoor life. (This rejection may have been the blow that soured
Hemingway on the adequacy of all relationships.) His first wife, Hadley, was game, but
she was pretty quickly preoccupied by maternal responsibilities with Bumby. (In CrossCountry Snow, Nick Adams gets rather upset when his wife becomes pregnant. Maybe
we'll never go skiing again, Nick, says his friend George. We've got to, Nick says. It
isn't worth while if you can't.) Skiing, hiking, hunting, fishing, shooting, life isn't
worthwhile if you can't do them when you want to. And what is a friend for, what is a
wife or lover for, if not to provide company on the trail, or hip-deep in the water with
the rod and reel. Good sex with a woman is a Hemingway ideal, since the moment of
ecstasy eclipses, however momentarily, one's consciousness of the nada at the heart of
existence. But sex attracts the man, as well as the woman, in the biological trap. There
are always complications, circumscribing consequences, in human relationships: Nick's
wife is going to have a baby.
Hemingway wanted his art to take part in that which survives the inevitable
collapse of human relations.

42

Tuttleton lets us know that Hemingway in his want to write well and truly about
what really happened, required him, like the matador Romero, to risk his life in holding
the purity of his line through the maximum of exposure, despite the horns of death
bearing down upon him. Most of the time Hemingway failed.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro, with its embittered writer Harry to be an
allegory of Hemingway's sense of lost possibility and failed effort: only
another writer, perhaps, would appreciate how close to the truth
Hemingway had come to that sense of failed ambition and the terrible,
fixed preoccupation, the irreducible selfishness of the writer's life; how
the dogged practice of the craft takes hold the time spent, the time
wasted with few things, other than war or marriage or a love affair,
nearly as real or compelling or of more consequence than what was on
the page in front of him102

43

APPENDIX
WAS HEMINGWAYS MOTHER A LESBIAN?
From Outlines, vol.13, no. 14 Sept. 8, 1999 pages 20 and 32

When my partner and I moved to Hemingway's birthplace in the summer of


1996, we inherited a subscription to the local weekly newspaper. The pages were
continually filled with a heated debate on a proposed domestic partnership ordinance,
and the election battle of an openly lesbian candidate for Village Trustee. [Oak Park,
originally created as a bedroom community for the families of affluent Chicago
commercial scions escaping the dirt of the city with its stockyards and factories was,
and still is, a conservative bastion. Oak Park had advertised itself as the place where the
saloons ended and churches began, there are no bars in the Village even today. In the
wake of a shifting economic base in the 1960's the Village suffered a sea change and
made a cottage industry of its two best known adulterers, architect Frank Lloyd Wright
and Ernest Miller Hemingway.] As a relief from the ugly, stereotype based, anti-gay
paranoia in print, I turned to a weekly feature on Oak Park history culled from old
newspaper files. In items from the turn of the century on, references to Grace Hall
Hemingway continually appeared. She was noted as giving local concerts, returning
with the family from summers in Michigan, holding recitals for her music students at
the studio of her Kenilworth Avenue home, having exhibits of her paintings at local
venues, coming or going to or from vacations on the east or west coast, alone. In the
days before her son Ernie made a name for himself, Momma Hemingway seemed to be
quite a big fish in the little Village pond.
Grace Hall Hemingway caught my fancy, and I was curious as to why Ernie had
turned his back on home and hearth. I knew his father was a suicide, as was Ernie and
two or three of his siblings, and fairly recently it was assumed in print that his
granddaughter, Margaux Hemingway, had also taken her own life with a drug overdose.
Ernie, who was born in his maternal grandfather's Oak Park house in 1899, was the
second of six children and Grace's first son. He left home at her urging when he was
twenty-one, married a woman seven years older with a trust fund, went to Paris, became

44

a twentieth century icon as a novelist and Nobel Prize winner, married three more times,
and never really came home again.
But Grace had stayed on, moving to neighboring River Forest some years later.
Ernie's hometown library has a plethora of books by and about him. In each I'd find a
line or two about Grace that left the impression Hemingway hated her. He called her
my bitch mother, a dominating shrew, held her responsible for his father's suicide,
told folks her spendthrift ways had cost him the chance to go to college. Some writers
made much of the fact that Ernie had refused to let his son, Patrick, visit Grace, giving
as a reason that she was "androgynous".
The family biographies by his brother and two of his sisters painted a more
restrained picture of their mother. Grace had wanted to be an opera singer, was
classically trained in New York and debuted at Madison Square Garden, took private
music students and ran a church choir. She married Dr. Clarence Hemingway whose
family lived across the street from hers; they shared similar Christian values. Grace was
earning $1,000 to the Doctor's $50 when they married. They lived in her father's house
until Ernie, was six years old; then, with money inherited from her father she designed
and had built a fifteen room home with an adjoining music studio for teaching and
student recitals. Others wrote that she had been something of a tomboy; she had
smoked, ridden a bicycle and travelled more than once to Europe before her marriage. A
contralto (she saw herself in the vein of Ernestine Schumann-Heink), Grace Hall
Hemingway gave concerts in the Chicago area, in Los Angeles and out east when she
travelled on her annual vacation away from the family. She was a staunch supporter of
women's suffrage (early in her marriage she hyphenated her surnames). In addition to
her music and lectures, she was a composer with published song sheets, and a better
than amateur painter in oils. She had studied at the Art Institute and newspaper records
indicate she had several one-woman shows. Grace taught her children to play
instruments and coached their voices for choir. Son Leicester observed that his mother
"lacked domestic talents". Her daughter Marcelline wrote that her mother had hired
household help from her earnings to keep her freedom to pursue her muses.
The Doctor did the shopping, the canning, some of the cooking and hired the
help (sometimes as many as six lived-in with the family), along with taking care of
patients from his home medical office. He taught the children (and Grace) to shoot and
appreciate the outdoors. James Nagel in his introduction to *Ernest Hemingway: The
Oak Park Legacy* notes that Grandfather Anson Hemingway had founded the Chicago

45

YMCA and Clarence founded the Oak Park Agassiz Club: "an organization dedicated to
the moral instruction of young boys." Several writers recount Hemingway on his
father's lecture to the boys on masturbation.
In 1907 when Grace was 36, Ruth Arnold, a 13-year old music student from a
troubled home became part of the family as "mother's helper". Madeline's biography
*Ernie: Hemingway's Sister "Sunny" Remembers* has a photograph of Ruth and the
Hemingway children at Walloon Lake in the overly modest bathing costumes of the day.
The published memoirs by the three siblings barely mention Ruth in passing as "our
nursemaid", "our housekeeper". Though they do record the family nickname for her:
"Bobs", "Bobby" or "Bobsy". Like so many Chicago area families that could afford it,
the Hemingways fled the heat of summer across the lake for three months in their
Michigan cottage named Windemere where Clarence and Grace had separate bedrooms.
Often the Doctor's work would delay his arrival by days or weeks, or call him back to
the city. Ruth Arnold went along to help care for the younger children.
When Grace was 48 (Ruth, 24) after several years of caring, cooking and cleaning
up after six kids and guests all summer, she told her family she needed to get away from
them if she was to survive. Over the objections of her husband (again using money from her
inheritance), Grace designed and had built for herself a summer escape across Walloon
Lake, on a 40 acre farm she had earlier purchased from a tax sale. One biographer states,
Ernie told his first wife-to-be, Hadley Richardson, that Grace had wasted two or three
thousand dollars on the cottage, which could have sent him to Princeton.
Grace took classes in furniture making and constructed several pieces for her
cottage. She and Ruth braided the rugs for the cottage floors. Here Grace would
compose her music; in later years daughter Marcelline would write that she remembered
the sound of her mother's piano wafting the mile across Lake Walloon. Ruth and the
younger children would stay with her, as would the doctor when he could get away from
the Village. Grace would sound a bell if she wanted one of the older children to take the
boat across and bring her to Windemere.
The suggestion that Grace and Ruth Arnold had a lesbian relationship rests
rather wobbly on three legs. One, the effusive letters that passed between them and that
are now at the University of Texas, Austin. Ruth and Grace wrote each other frequently
when not together, as did Clarence and Grace. Ruth addressed her letters "Dear Muv".
Critics of the suggestion that the letters have lesbian content [as in the case of Eleanor
Roosevelt and Rachel Carson], defuse the argument by referring to Carol Smith

46

Rosenberg's seminal article "The Female World of Love and Ritual", which claimed
women of the period wrote in a style often misconstrued today.
Two, the report of a neighbor at Oak Park and the Lake, a Mrs.Loomis, that it
was common knowledge that Ruth was the cause of the trouble between Grace and the
Doctor. This could possibly be dismissed as gossip.
The third leg is a little more problematic. It rests on the actions of the Doctor in
exiling Ruth Arnold from the family's Kenilworth Avenue house and Grace's response to
two (missing) letters from Clarence relating to his decision to do so.
When Ruth tried to come "home" after a stint at the Lake and was told she
would not be allowed to return, she was obviously distressed and bewildered. She wrote
Grace who was still at the lake cottage of Clarence's decision to bar her from the house.
In a letter preserved at University of Texas Grace wrote Clarence "no one in the world
can take my husband's place unless he abdicates it to play at petty jealousy with his
wife's loyal girl friend". Obviously, at this juncture, Ruth was no longer merely
"mother's helper".
That Grace again prevailed and continued her contact with Ruth until Clarence's
suicide is evidenced in preserved letters, in one Ruth wrote to "Muv" offering to delay
her arrival if the Doctor was going to be at the cottage. After Clarence took his life in
1928 there are references to Ruth in various biographies as companion to Grace in Oak
Park, and later in River Forest. In 1949, a little over a year before her death, Ernie wrote
twice to his mother and asked her to pass on his "love" to Ruth Arnold. In 1950,
someone on staff had upset Grace's wheelchair while she was hospitalized. The resultant
brain damage rendered her totally unable to contribute to her own care. Grace went to
live with her daughter "Sunny" in Memphis until her death in 1951 at age 79. Ernest did
not attend his mother's funeral. There is a final glimpse of Ruth Arnold in an exchange
of letters with Ernie after Grace's death, which leads one to believe Ruth continued to
live in the River Forest home she had shared with Grace. Ruth had found a biographical
sketch Grace wrote about the Hall family and asked Hem's desire for its disposition.
What we do know is that from the time she was 13 until she was 68, the major
part of Ruth Arnold's life seems to have been given over to the "service' of a woman we
have evidence she deeply loved. In the 1920's when the Hemingway children were
testing their independence an exasperated Grace may well have been in menopause and
Ruth's unquestioning devotion was an anodyne. The Doctor is now believed to have
been quite ill, in financial trouble over some Florida land dealings, and by today's

47

standards severely depressed and somewhat paranoid. From all that has been written, it
wouldn't have been in Grace's nature on a good day to play nurse. Indeed she may well
have taken refuge in Ruth's adoration.
Not to be fey, but whether or not you consider the relationship between Ruth and
Grace to be "lesbian" depends on your definition of the word. Since Rita Mae Brown and
Martha Shelley attempted to revise Webster's narrow definition in the "Radicalesbian"
early 1970's, other feminist academics have had their say. Lillian Faderman author of
*Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers* says that lesbian "describes a relationship in which two
women's strongest emotions and affections are directed toward each other. Sexual contact
may be a part of the relationship to a greater or lesser degree, or it maybe entirely absent".
Lois Gould writing in the *New York Times Magazine* said "We agree that the term
'lesbian' is no longer just a sexual definition. Many feminists now consider it a highly
charged political word". Blanche Weisen Cook, author of two huge volumes on Eleanor
Roosevelt, once wrote about Jane Addams and her "companion" of forty years, Marie
Rozet Smith: "Even if we were to assume that Addams and Smith never touched each
other, we can still argue that they were lesbians because they chose each other. Women
who love women, who choose women to nurture and support and to create a living
environment in which to work creatively and independently are lesbians. It may seem
elementary to state here that lesbians cannot be defined simply as women who practice
certain physical rites together." And feminist theorist Charlotte Bunch wrote in
*Lesbianism and the Women's Movement*: "Lesbianism is a threat to the ideological,
political, personal and economic basis of male supremacy." Elsewhere she is quoted as
saying :"in the sense that if your life is not bound up with men, then in men's eyes you
might as well be a lesbian."
Like Eleanor Roosevelt, after many years of marriage and mothering six children,
Grace Hall Hemingway sought the nuturing and support of another, a woman who loved
her and appreciated her talents. Unlike ER, Grace already had a strong sense of self and
her creative abilities. She could not, and would not, conform to the gender roles of her day
if her work (and patriarchal inheritance) gave her the financial freedom to do otherwise.
One can understand why Ernie saw her as a "selfish bitch" in her refusal to conform to
Victorian standards and make Ernie and his father the center of her world.
In fiction and reality there have been women who devoted themselves to their
beloveds, being content to serve them even when they heterosexually married or took
one or more women lovers. (Mrs. Danvers in du Maurier's *Rebecca* in fiction, and

48

Monique Serrure in real life, come readily to mind). Perhaps this is all Ruth was, an
adoring satellite in a universe with Grace at the center. The intensity of the relationship
is yet to be explored by scholars with access to both parties' thin paper trail. Perhaps
they will answer questions like: Is there more information on Ruth/Grace in the
unpublished portions of the siblings memoirs? Why did Grace move to River Forest
after three generations of Halls and Hemingways called Oak Park home? Was it to
escape those wagging tongues alluded to by Mrs. Loomis? Why did Ernie's second wife
Pauline, whose sister was a lesbian, get her rich uncle to set up a trust fund for Grace's
support knowing her husband hated his mother? Why did Hemingway threaten to pull
that support from his mother if Grace granted an interview to a *McCall's* writer that
was pursuing her about life at the Hemingway's in the Oak Park days? What did Ernie
mean when he told son Patrick that Grace was androgynous? Why was that grounds to
deny him visits to his grandmother?
Writer's frequently allude to the Hemingway tale repeated in *A Moveable
Feast* (and inferred from some of his letters), that he broke off relations with Gertrude
Stein after learning her relationship with Alice B. Toklas was as lesbians. He was only
in his twenties, but he was not that provincial! There has always been speculation over
what he actually heard that day at the Rue de fleurus. In recording only part of what he
overheard, I suggest he is telling us precisely what was important to him. He was made
suddenly aware of a power imbalance in a relationship he probably pictured to be like
that of his mother and Ruth. What no doubt shocked him was that the intelligent, strong,
stocky, independent Gertrude with hair piled up on her head much like his mother's
might be so desperately dependent on her so-called helper that she would beg anything
rather than face the threat of her leaving. I'm certain he must have wondered then about
the bond between his mother and Ruth.
I suggest, by the standards of most lesbian-feminists, the relationship between
Grace Hall Hemingway and Ruth Arnold can be defined as lesbian. However, other
lesbian theorists such as Pat Califia (and most straights) hold that the sexual element is
necessary to the definition. And that element, in this case, (or so many others like it
from before the "tell-all 1970s"), cannot be proven absent confirmation from either of
the principals. But we could probably make a good case for Ernie thinking his mother
was a dyke if we half-tried.

49

CONCLUSIONS

Why did Hemingway chose to name a female character Brett?


As it is known, critics have remarked that it is quite impossible for one to create
art detached of ones destiny or life-experience. Nevertheless, Hemingway maybe even
more than others, seems to have forgotten, willingly or unwillingly, his roots in his
faraway-subconscious-childhood past. Is this a vendetta with his own destiny???
The very center of his childhood universe, his mother, dressed him in girls
clothes. This was, without doubt, an experience that marked his life.
Why does a serious and recognized author writes a series of stories entitled
Men Without Women???
The series Men Without Women were explained by the author as a book
conceived without the feminine influence which sweetens everything (my own
translation). 103
Is it so bad to sweeten the world? He says it as it were a bad thing. This title
presents an utopian world; he wants this world but he desires for an illusion. Why?
Because the world was not created only for men or only for women. Thats why a world
without women is an utopian island, that could not have been conceived. The
existence of humans came from men and women, as well.
Why are not the screams of a woman giving birth to a child important???
The fact that, for a man, the screams of a woman giving birth are not important
says a lot about that man. Hemingway makes his character deny the most important
moment in ones life: the birth. Maybe by this he is sorry that he exists. But if this is
true, who is to blame? Maybe his mother and his whole childhood experience
mentioned above.
And the questions can go on. I think that Hemingway was a misogynist but I
think this was unwillingly. His subconscious was acting without his will.

50

NOTES

51

Sean M. Donnell, Hemingways short fiction and the Crisis of Middle-class Masculinity, available on
the Internet at www.elcamino.edu
2
Idem
3
Hertha Perez, Ipostaze ale personajului n roman, page 192
4
Idem
5
Idem
6
Ibidem,page 193
7
Richard Gill, Mastering English Language, page 90
8
Ibidem, page 94
9
Melvin C. Miles, An Introductory Overview, page 2, Internet www.elcamino.edu
10
Edward Wagenknecht, Cavalcade of theAmerican novel, page 372
11
Earnest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, page 247
12
Idem
13
Ibidem, page 10
14
Charles Frost, Treating Ernest Hemingway, page 9, available on the internet at www.studystack.com
15
Ernst Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, page 121
16
Ernst Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, page 121
17
Idem
18
Scott Doaldson, Louise G.T. Cooley, American Writers Retrospective Supplement, page 9, available
on the internet at www.bookfinder4u.com
19
Idem
20
Idem
21
Ernst Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, page 72
22
Scott Doaldson, Louise G.T. Cooley, American Writers Retrospective Supplement, page 9, available
on the internet at www.bookfinder4u.com
Idem
23
Ernst Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, page 239
24
Ibidem, page243
25
Idem
26
Fernanda Pivano, Hemingway, page 106
27
Idem
28
Ibidem, page 108
29
Ibidem, page 111
30
Scott Donaldson, Louise G.T. Cooley, American Writers Retrospective Supplement, page 10,
internet at www.bookfinder4u.com
31
Ernst Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, page 46
32
Idem
33
Idem
34
Idem
35
Idem
36
Idem
37
Idem
1

Maureen Griffin, Five Ways To Read Hemingway, internet www.bbs.edu


Ernst Hemingway, Best Ten Short Stories, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, page 26
40
Idem
41
Ernst Hemingway, Best Ten Short Stories, Indian Camp, page 63
42
Idem
43
Ibidem, page 64
44
Idem
45
Earnest Hemingway, Best Ten Short Stories, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, page 135
46
Ibidem, page 138
47
Ibidem, page 140
48
Idem
49
Maureen Griffin, Five Ways To Read Hemingway, internet www.bbs.edu
50
Ernst Hemingway, Best Ten Short Stories, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, page 142
51
Ibidem, page 143
52
Ibidem, page 144
53
Idem
54
Idem
55
www.sparknotes.com
56
Ernst Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, page245
57
Amy Lerman, Beyond the Sex Kitten Stigma: Catherine Barkley as Code Hero, page 1, internet
www.eiu.edu
58
Idem
59
Idem
60
Idem
61
Idem
62
Ibidem, page 2
63
Idem
64
Idem
65
Idem
66
Idem
67
Idem
68
Idem
69
Idem
70
Ernst Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, page45
71
Idem
72
Amy Lerman, Beyond The Sex Kitten Stigma, Catherine Barkley as Code Hero, page 5, internet
www.eiu.edu
73
D. Bray, The Hemingway Heroine, internet www.allhemingway.com
74
Ernst Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, page 67
75
Idem
76
Dictionary of Contemporary English, Ed. Longman,2001
77
Websters Desk Dictionary, Ed, Gramercy Books, New York, 1993
38
39

Janice R. Walker, The Forgotten Female, page 1, available on the Internet at


www.hemingwaysociety.org
79
Ibidem, page 2
80
Idem
81
Idem
82
Idem
83
Idem
84
Idem
85
Idem
86
Idem
87
Janice R. Walker, The Forgotten Female, page 5 www.hemingwaysociety.org
88
88 Idem
89
Idem
90
James Tuttleton, Hemingway Unbound, page 1, available on the Internet at www.newcriterion.com
91
Ibidem, page 3
92
Idem
93
Idem
94
Idem
95
James Tuttleton, Hemingway Unbound, page 4 available on the Internet at www.newcriterion.com
96
Idem
97
Idem
98
Idem
99
Idem
100
Idem
101
Idem
102
Idem
103
Dan Grigorescu, Dicionar cronologic - Literatura american, Ed. tiinific i Enciclopedic,
Bucureti, 1977, pag. 368.
78

89
90
91

92

93

REFERENCES

1. Aldridge, John,
2. Gill, Richard,
3. Hemingway, Ernst,
4. Hemingway, Ernst,
5. Hemingway, Ernst,
6. Hemingway, Ernst,
7. Lupan, Radu,
8. Perez, Hertha,
9. Pivano, Fernanda
10. Popovici, Vasile,
11. Read, Herbert,
12. Selden, Raman,

94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103

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Mastering English Literature, Ed. Macmillan Master Guides, 1995.
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The Best Ten Short Stories, Ed. All, Bucureti, 1998
Pentru cine bat clopotele, Ed. Minerva, Bucureti, 1971.
A Farewell to Arms, Ed. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1969.
Hemingway, scriitorul, Ed. pentru Literatura Universal, Bucureti,
1966.
Ipostaze ale personajului n roman, Editura Univers,1978.
Hemingway, Ed. Univers, 1988.
Eu, personajul, Ed. Cartea Romneasc, 1988.
English Prose Style, Ed. Beacon Press, Boston, 1955.
A Readers Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory, Ed. Harvester
Wheatsheaf, New York, 1989.