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bentley
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Hemingway and Women

The following was from the Ernest Hemingway site and written by Caroline Hulse. I found it interesting and it seems to sum up a lot of the underlining themes in Hemingway's short stories. I thought possibly this thread could discuss Hemingway's relationship with women and how women were depicted in the short stories we are reading. Any comments or insights would be welcome. In "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" it was apparent that Wilson had a very poor opinion of women and American women in particular. Hemingway had a number of marriages to Agnes, Elizabeth, Pauline, Martha and Mary and numerous other less than permanent relationships. I thought that maybe we could talk about Hemingway's portrayal of women in his writings and how they were portrayed and possibly why.

Here is the quote from the url:

http://www.ernest.hemingway.com/conclusion.htm

"He was, it was said, having a number of affairs during his marriage to Hadley but it was only when she found out about his affair with Pauline Pfeiffer that Hadley wanted to divorce him.

Why did he find it necessary to have affairs, why did he need everyone to 'love' him? The pattern of marriages and affairs stayed with him all his life and yet when he finally married a woman he considered his equal - Martha Gelhorn, he threw that away too, discovering he could not cope with a woman who had a career of her own.

Hemingway did not know what he wanted. He wanted everything and nothing.

His writing was his way of coping with life - to exorcise his ghosts, to achieve fame and glory and yet he also had a natural talent. What came first, his writing or his adventures? What was most important to him? To fulfill his mother's wishes or his father's?

Maybe he felt unfulfilled at his attempts of being an adventurous, outdoor man? He certainly had more than his fair share of illness. Anthrax, digestive problems, pneumonia. Each illness seemed to occur after a long period of activity. Fishing, hunting, shooting. Maybe he was frustrated at his poor health, his proneness to sickness everytime he made some exertion on his body.

He eventually fell into a period of mental illness, overwhelmed by the demands put on him by others and himself.

His father had committed suicide, did he feel then it was perfectly ok for him to do the same?

But his medical treatment to overcome his mental problems did not work and he found his memory had gone and he could not even write to appease himself.

His physical state was also too poor for him to carry on with his pursuits of fishing, shooting and hunting. There was no other choice than to end his life."
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Re: Hemingway and Women

Good idea.

We might start with one of the originally mentioned trilogy: "Up in Michigan". Another possibility would be "The End of Something". And if we really want to extend this, how about "The Sea Change"?
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Re: Hemingway and Women

Sounds good.
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Re: Hemingway and Women

Hi Bentley! I'm so glad you started this thread. Let me recommend without reservation "The Short Happy Life of Francis. . ." Women are gun-toting adulteresses who like an animal sniff the slightest scent of the man's weakness. There's an open combat to that story that is quite unnerving. I also read his own account of that infidelity in Moveable Feast, and the pain he causes his wife is evident to him. But he feels the pain to his own cozy little first love much more. And Hemingway did like to nurse his wounds; he considered that activity part of the thought process of a thinking, self-conscious artist.
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Re: Hemingway and Women


fanuzzir wrote:
Hi Bentley! I'm so glad you started this thread. Let me recommend without reservation "The Short Happy Life of Francis. . ." Women are gun-toting adulteresses who like an animal sniff the slightest scent of the man's weakness. There's an open combat to that story that is quite unnerving. I also read his own account of that infidelity in Moveable Feast, and the pain he causes his wife is evident to him. But he feels the pain to his own cozy little first love much more. And Hemingway did like to nurse his wounds; he considered that activity part of the thought process of a thinking, self-conscious artist.




NP..I think Mr. H was very self-absorbed and overdoing his attempts to prove his masculinity with manly deeds and sports. His inadequacies with women are becoming more obvious to me as I am reading each story. It seems he dumps them and moves on to someone else without missing a beat. The first three of his wives were all born in St. Louis (not sure where Mary was born)...so all of them including his mother were American women. To me he loved to be with women but didn't like them very much. Possibly Hemingway was more personally vulnerable than he cared to be and maybe by leaving women before they left him...maybe he felt more in control of the situation before the tables could be turned. He seemed to have some issues with his mother which may have transcended itself to his problems with women in general. I will reread The Short Happy Life of Francis....and look for the references you have mentioned. I appreciate your comments very much. I was wondering also about his relationship with Fitzgerald and some of the comments that he made about him and F. Scott's looks which reminded me in a way of the description that Wilson was making of Francis. Of course, I am in learning mode and am just expressing things that I have noticed.
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Re: Hemingway and Women

[ Edited ]

bentley wrote: It seems he dumps them and moves on to someone else without missing a beat.




The relating wasn't easy for him (so it seems) and it isn't for many men today either.

From what I read he usually felt guilty after a failed relationship.

What gender are you bentley?
Who'd be a satisfying male role model for you teh way you see it from your position?

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-15-200701:44 PM

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Re: Hemingway and Women



ziki wrote:

bentley wrote: It seems he dumps them and moves on to someone else without missing a beat.




The relating wasn't easy for him (so it seems) and it isn't for many men today either.

From what I read he usually felt guilty after a failed relationship.

What gender are you bentley?
Who'd be a satisfying male role model for you teh way you see it from your position?

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-15-200701:44 PM






Well, that is hard to say Ziki..I am not saying that I do not have any (I certainly do - my father and grandfather come immediately to mind because "satisfying" role models do not have to be writers or famous); and I am not saying that Hemingway was not one of the greatest writers in American Literature which he was/is. Hard to answer but my father and grandfather were satisfying models as were my mother and grandmothers.

The guilt you are referring to obviously did not last too long (JMO). Gregory Hemingway wrote "that Hemingway's relationships were like pitchers in a baseball game"..(and I am not quoting directly here) but "while one was on the mound there was always one in the bullpen warming up".

Bentley tries not to give away details...lol..but ziki..since you asked..Bentley is the name of my GSP.
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Re: Hemingway and Women (Up In Michigan)

[ Edited ]
If you haven't read Up In Michigan, then read no further until you do because I do not want to spoil it for you.




ELee wrote:
Good idea.

We might start with one of the originally mentioned trilogy: "Up in Michigan". Another possibility would be "The End of Something". And if we really want to extend this, how about "The Sea Change"?




OK..I will take a stab at Up in Michigan (in terms of the Hemingway and Women theme).

First, the characters in this short story are Jim Gilmore, Old Man Horton, Liz Coates, Mrs. Smith, D.J Smith, and Charlie Wyman (if I missed anybody let me know).

Liz was depicted by Hemingway to be the "neatest girl she'd ever seen. Liz had good legs and always wore clean gingham aprons and Jim noticed that her hair was always neat behind. He liked her face because it was so jolly but he never thought about her." To me this quote shows the indifferent man that Hemingway portrayed in the relationship to women. Liz on the other hand seemed to notice every last detail about Jim and thought about him constantly. Hemingway also stated that, "All the time now Liz was thinking about Jim Gilmore. He didn't notice her much."

Liz was afraid to even make Jim something because Mrs. Smith would know and she was afraid. Liz watched the barges outside and when she was watching them...they did not seem to move but as soon as she went inside to dry some dishes..when she came out again they were gone. It was as if life was passing her by while she was working for Mrs. Smith. She missed Jim terribly while he went deer hunting and couldn't sleep.

When they all had dinner she wanted to wait for Jim to come out so she could remember the way he looked and take that image to bed with her. When Jim is a little tipsy and makes advances, Liz doesn't seem to know what to do,,,,she thinks with the wits Hemingway has given her that Jim is finally coming to her and she is frightened. She goes for a walk with him and then again maybe she shouldn't have because she could not control the outcome. She said no but didn't seem to mean it. And in the end he had hurt her in many ways. She walked over to the edge of the dock and cried. She was cold, miserable and everything was gone. She still covered him with her coat and then went to bed alone in the coldness.

To me, Liz was portrayed as the simple lovesick character who down deep feels that life is passing her by. She has latched on to Jim as the man of her dreams (and that is what he was - only in her dreams). She was obsessed with him and wanted him to notice her and to love her. What she got in return is someone who took advantage of her and did not share any of the same feelings she had for him. She mistakenly thought of his advances as love which they were not and what she envisioned as a potential married life with Jim was basically a one night stand (not even a whole night). She knew that she had been used and she cried for her personal loss and how stupid she felt. She had lost a lot that night. I think Hemingway portrays the male hero as the taker who has no regard for the feelings of the women characters...they are simply wrapped up in their own needs at the time and dwell on what they want, do and feel. The women are not always portrayed as being very bright or similarly self serving..they are in the story to make the male look or feel better. However, I think Margot in the Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber was very smart in her own way and seemed to be an aggressive female who went after what she wanted (no matter who got hurt or what the consequences were).

Elee, I thought I would start off with one of your suggestions. What is your take on this story and the female characters. I simply focused on Liz and not Mrs. Smith.

Message Edited by bentley on 02-15-200711:49 AM

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Re: Hemingway and Women

bentley, let me be straight with you: I do not care about your screen name... my question was simple. To keep the discussion focused especially when we discuss things male and female I asked you if you were a woman or not. We were used to more open and honest discussions on BNU but so be it. Keep your details. NP with me.

ziki
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Re: Hemingway and Women


ziki wrote:
bentley, let me be straight with you: I do not care about your screen name... my question was simple. To keep the discussion focused especially when we discuss things male and female I asked you if you were a woman or not. We were used to more open and honest discussions on BNU but so be it. Keep your details. NP with me.

ziki




OK then..I was discussing the themes and the short stories..I think that folks should be comfortable with disclosing what they want to in a public forum and how much.

Sorry Ziki that you feel that way or differently..and I am not familiar with BNU (you seem to miss it)..what was there about BNU you liked...possibly you can open another thread with that info.

I also do not think that knowing a person's gender has that much to do with their opinions or staying focused on the discussion. And again I respect your feelings and your rights to say what you would like. I am simply responding to you and from my end feel and hope the matter is closed.
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Re: Hemingway and Women (The End of Something)


ELee wrote:
Good idea.

We might start with one of the originally mentioned trilogy: "Up in Michigan". Another possibility would be "The End of Something". And if we really want to extend this, how about "The Sea Change"?




Elee...I tried to put down my feelings on Hemingway's women for Up in Michigan and I have just finished reading The End of Something and would be interested in your take on any of the three (3) stories you recommended.

If anyone has not finished The End of Something..they may not want to read any further until they do.

First, I am curious about the Chapter Notes: On page 77 prior to the start of the story is a Chapter heading which is marked Chapter III and there was a war time incident described. Could someone explain for me the significance of this entry in the volume and does it connect to something in the following story which is The End of Something or to something entirely different? I am not sure why these are there.

This seems to be one of the Nick Adams stories and the characters are Nick and Marjorie and Bill at the very end. Were these characters reflective of folks in Hemingway's own life? I wasn't sure. It seems like Nick is Hemingway speaking but I am not certain about that either. Does anybody have any inking of the relationship of Nick to Hemingway?

It seems to take place in Horton's Bay. And Nick basically is breaking up with Marjorie by first telling her it isn't fun anymore and that he feels as though everything has gone to hell inside of him. So without a scene she gets into the boat and goes off leaving him by himself. I am not sure what the end of something means except to say that it is certainly the end of the relationship that he had with Marjorie but it could also mean that Nick feels empty and senses something is wrong with himself and can't verbalize what it is (the end of the way he used to feel and be). Touch is mentioned a couple of times in the story like nothing is getting to Nick and they sat together not touching and then when Bill happened to come along...Nick noted that Bill wasn't touching him either...he ends by sending Bill away but just for awhile.

Back to Marjorie:

Marjorie seems like many of the Hemingway women...always eager to please her man and really loves being with him when in fact that feeling is not reciprocated.

I was wondering whether Nick and Marjorie were childhood sweethearts and now 10 years later they are rowing along and seeing the ruins of the mill which is foreshadowing the ruins of their relationship and love. Marjorie keeps chatting away trying to hold up both ends of the conversation and Nick pretty much doesn't answer or repeats that the fish aren't striking. She seems to stare at the rod rather than at Nick when she spoke probably because she senses something is very wrong. She loved to fish and she loved to fish with Nick. Nick seems to continually tell her the right way to do things and she takes everything in stride and tries to please him and do things his way...but it just isn't working for him. He doesn't care. She even has made a supper for both of them and she has to beg him to eat. And then she gets lambasted because she agrees with him about the moon coming up. She was so happy for a moment and then that happiness is dashed to bits. Nick claims that she knows everything and then goes even further over the edge and says that he taught her everything like she did not have a brain in her head. Marjorie just doesn't know what to do so she tells him to shut up. She doesn't know how to reach Nick so she is sitting not touching him and with her back to him. When Nick gets through, the only semblance of self respect that Marjorie can muster is to get into the boat and leave him to walk back around the point by himself. Instead of all of the wonderful plans she had for a nice evening...she ends up alone rowing herself back with the moonlight on the boat.

This seems similar to Up in Michigan and Marjorie seems to be very similar to the characterization of Liz Coates..(an empty feeling at the end) knowing you cannot make a dream into a reality alone. She was another woman trying way too hard.

That is my take but I am not sure what everyone else might have seen in the story.
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The End of Something

"This seems to be one of the Nick Adams stories and the characters are Nick and Marjorie and Bill at the very end. Were these characters reflective of folks in Hemingway's own life? I wasn't sure. It seems like Nick is Hemingway speaking but I am not certain about that either. Does anybody have any inking of the relationship of Nick to Hemingway?"

Nick Adams was a persona closely based on Hemingway. I think he used him to try to express how he felt about some of his own experiences. Marjorie was based on a real Marjorie - I found this little bit in Cliff Notes.

"The story is closely autobiographical. In the summer of 1919, 20 year-old Hemingway was dating 17 year-old Marjorie Bump, a waitress in a resort town. Marjorie often fixed picnic meals for them that they would eat beside evening campfires. When Marjorie’s summer job ended after Labor Day, Hemingway began dating someone else. The fictional “Bill” in the story is no doubt based on Bill Smith, a good friend of Hemingway’s who spent time with Hemingway that summer."

"The Three-Day Blow" is a follow-up to "The End of Something".
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Re: The End of Something

Thanks Elee...maybe I should get a copy of Cliff notes..so mainly most of these stories have autobiographical details in them. That was very helpful. What did you think of Marjorie as a female character and of the story itself. Curious.

I will continue to plow through the stories. Which one do you think I should read next after this one: The Sea of Change or the other one you mentioned.
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Re: The End of Something

"Which one do you think I should read next after this one: The Sea of Change or the other one you mentioned."

I would read The Three-Day Blow, only because it is somewhat of a continuation, but its really up to you. (The Sea Change is not a "Nick" story.)
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Re: The End of Something

[ Edited ]
thx - have you read all of these stories as yet..any autobiographical details that you can provide for these other two stories which would help with the interpretations. What is your take on the female characters in them?

Message Edited by bentley on 02-15-200704:34 PM

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Re: Hemingway and Women (Up In Michigan)

[ Edited ]
bentley wrote:
"To me this quote shows the indifferent man that Hemingway portrayed in the relationship to women. Liz on the other hand seemed to notice every last detail about Jim and thought about him constantly."

I think this conflict in the basic "wants and needs" of men and women was of major interest to Hemingway. He often focused on the lack of communication and understanding between the sexes, probably because he had some trouble in that area himself. Women seem to fill two roles for EH: as either a family member or a potential sexual partner/wife. Friendship was gender-specific; women had female friends and men had male friends.

Message Edited by ELee on 02-15-200708:22 PM

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Re: Hemingway and Women (Up In Michigan)

bentley wrote:
"Liz was portrayed as the simple lovesick character who down deep feels that life is passing her by. She has latched on to Jim as the man of her dreams (and that is what he was - only in her dreams). She was obsessed with him and wanted him to notice her and to love her. What she got in return is someone who took advantage of her and did not share any of the same feelings she had for him."

I think you are spot-on with your analysis. I find it noteworthy that Hemingway chose to approached this story from a woman's viewpoint. He has successfully captured the physical and emotional beginnings of sexual awakening in a young girl/woman. We feel sorry for her. But here again the "lack of communication" becomes a factor. She has not made her attraction to Jim or relationship expectations known to anyone in any concrete (verbal?) way. Undoubtedly, her naivete (youth?) and inexperience account for this. Jim is being "manly" in his pursuit of sexual satisfaction and has no reason to consider her feelings. Should we fault him for being what he is? Should he "know better"? Not in Hemingway's world - I think that kind of sensitivity and restraint would be considered "sissy". And yet, Hemingway had the sensitivity to perceive and reproduce this situation in his writing...interesting, isn't it?!
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Hemingway and Women (Re: The Three Day Blow)

[ Edited ]
Again if you have not read the story as yet, please do not read further because I would not want to spoil it for you.

Finally I have found interpretations for all of the war vignettes (chapters). It has been fairly helpful and I posted the url on one of the other Hemingway threads. It has helped me.

Characters: Bill (Nick's friend), Nick

Although there are no women characters in this short story there are major discussions on relationships and marriage and the Marjorie relationship from the End of Something short story as well as books and baseball.

Some of Hemingway's views on these subjects are quite striking and are reflected in his other stories.

It was sort of interesting that Bill calls Nick Wemedge which I read was Hemingway's nickname for himself. I am not sure if anybody else has any idea of the significance of that nickname. It sounds like an Indian name.

The title deals with the wind blowing down the lake and Bill indicating that it will blow that way for three days sort of figuratively blowing all of the Marge business out of Nick's head. And he was happier for a moment or two thinking that maybe what he had done was not irrevocable and anyways the wind blew everything away and things were not that tragic anymore.

Nick says there is always more to it than we know about...and I doubt that he was talking simply about baseball. Bill also talks about drinking: He says that his dad only wants him to drink what is open. His dad said that opening bottles is what makes drunkards. Nick had not thought of it that way..he had thought that solitary drinking was responsible for that. Nick mentioned that his father never took a drink in his life and Bill indicated that was because he was a doctor (I think another autobiographical detail from Hemingway's life).

Nick went by a mirror in the dining room and thought he looked strange and made faces in the mirror. He said that this was not his face but it didn't make any difference. When Bill started talking about Marjorie Nick said nothing. "The liquor had died out of him and left him alone." All he knew at that moment was that he had once had Marjorie and that he had lost her. She was gone and he had sent her away.

About Marjorie:

There were no women characters in the story but the story dealt with relationship issues and ideas concerning marriage.

Bill said: "Once a man's married he's absolutely bitched. He hasn't got anything more. Nothing. Not a damn thing. He's done for. You've seen the guys that get married. You can tell them. They get this sort of fat married look. They're done for. Fall for them but don't let them ruin you. If you had married her, you would have had to marry the whole family. " Nick just looked sad, "All of a sudden everything was over. I don't know why it was. I couldn't help it. Just like when the three day blows come now and rip all of the leaves off the trees." He was sorry as hell but what could he do. He went on to say that there is always a way out.

From my perspective, this is not a great commentary on marriage but it most likely is the way Hemingway felt. And what seemed to scare Nick the most was not the loss of Marjorie but a permanent loss.

"Nick has trouble dealing with the loss of his relationship when he sees it as gone forever, but the possibility of its renewal allows him to deal with it much better." (quote from gradesaver.com)

I liked this story...there seemed to be a lot revealed in the conversations between Bill and Nick about their views on life.

Message Edited by bentley on 02-15-200709:46 PM

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Re: Hemingway and Women (Up In Michigan)



ELee wrote:
bentley wrote:
"To me this quote shows the indifferent man that Hemingway portrayed in the relationship to women. Liz on the other hand seemed to notice every last detail about Jim and thought about him constantly."

I think this conflict in the basic "wants and needs" of men and women was of major interest to Hemingway. He often focused on the lack of communication and understanding between the sexes, probably because he had some trouble in that area himself. Women seem to fill two roles for EH: as either a family member or a potential sexual partner/wife. Friendship was gender-specific; women had female friends and men had male friends.

Message Edited by ELee on 02-15-200708:22 PM






That is very interesting elee...
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Re: Hemingway and Women (Up In Michigan)



ELee wrote:
bentley wrote:
"Liz was portrayed as the simple lovesick character who down deep feels that life is passing her by. She has latched on to Jim as the man of her dreams (and that is what he was - only in her dreams). She was obsessed with him and wanted him to notice her and to love her. What she got in return is someone who took advantage of her and did not share any of the same feelings she had for him."

I think you are spot-on with your analysis. I find it noteworthy that Hemingway chose to approached this story from a woman's viewpoint. He has successfully captured the physical and emotional beginnings of sexual awakening in a young girl/woman. We feel sorry for her. But here again the "lack of communication" becomes a factor. She has not made her attraction to Jim or relationship expectations known to anyone in any concrete (verbal?) way. Undoubtedly, her naivete (youth?) and inexperience account for this. Jim is being "manly" in his pursuit of sexual satisfaction and has no reason to consider her feelings. Should we fault him for being what he is? Should he "know better"? Not in Hemingway's world - I think that kind of sensitivity and restraint would be considered "sissy". And yet, Hemingway had the sensitivity to perceive and reproduce this situation in his writing...interesting, isn't it?!




It really is interesting that Hemingway could wear either gender hat. And I agree with you on your interpretation (excellent by the way)...you have to feel sorry for Liz because she had an awakening of sorts as well to reality and she knew that she had spoiled all of her dreams and illusions with her naivete. Sort of like the apple in the Garden of Eden.
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